Bike Ride - Summer 2002:
Bas St. Laurent & St. Johns River
Day Seven


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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Montreal to St. John, New Brunswick
Day Seven: Edmunston to Grand Falls
Sunday, August 4, 2002


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~08:15)
Ritz Motel

Starting Out

I got up at 06:00 and packed up my bike while Sheryl slept in. We were both finally out at 07:00 and went over to the motel restaurant for the second day in a row. We were served by 'Julie', a very talkative girl, instead of the black-haired girl of the day before. We had a table by the window and looked out on the valley as we ate our bacon and eggs from 07:00 to 08:00


 

Sheryl sent me on my way at 08:15. I rode back up over the highway and once more down into the little hamlet of St. Jacques. I decided there that I would follow the old road into town instead of taking the bike trail. Not only was it a more more direct route, but I had already ridden in along the bike trail. Soon the old road crossed over to the other side of the new highway and climbed up onto the high ground, becoming 'Canada Road' and overlooking the valley.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~08:30)
Edumunston: St. Jacques & Madawaska River Edumunston: Canada Road in the early morning fog

 

I passed once more by the display of nostalgia owned by M. Levesque. It seemed very interesting, so where I stopped to grab a picture.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~08:30)
Edumunston: Ostentatious Display on Canada Rd.

 

Edmundston: One More Time

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~09:00)
Edumunston: Church at centre of town

As I rode on into town, I had passed by the pulp and paper mill and finally came into the built-up area of Edmundston. High up on the hill, with the factory spread out below , was a stone monument to Fraser & Matheson, with information plaques describing the founding of Edmundston. I stopped a few minutes to read them and to take photos.

Read these Historical Plaques

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~09:30)
Edumunston: College on Hill

 


 

I did not have to ride on much further before I cam upon the now familiar downtown area. I rode down the hill of the main street and turned left on the rode along the St. John’s River. When I came upon the mouth of the Madawaska River, where it emptied into the St. John, I paused to get some photos. Below the reconstructed blockhouse was an information plaque:

Vignette: Blockhouse Historical Plaque
On the knoll facing the Madawaska River, Fort Petit Sault was built in 1841 during the Boundary Conflict between the Province of New Brunswick and the State of Maine, about the Territory of Madawaska. The fort was occupied by military companies until 1842. On August 9 of that year, the Ashburton-Webster treaty fixed the boundary and ended the dispute without any military action. The fort was destroyed by fire in the 1860s. (Erected by the Société historique du Madawaska)

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~09:30)
Edumunston: The Madawaska meets the St. John Edumunston: Main line Trestle over the Madawaska

 

Heading on Out along Hwy 144

With all my stops and explorations, it was 09:25 before I finally left the town of Edmundston proper, riding out along the river road, which had been the main highway before the freeway high up on the hill had been completed.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~09:45)
Hwy 144: Creek at Iroquois

 

There was a brief touch of countryside as I rode through the Indian reservation. I passed by the Iroquois Campground, where I had made the unused reservations (I did cancel them.). When I left the reservation, I came out at the new, modern shopping plaza called Madawaska Centre. At this point, the old highway and the freeway came close together again. It was already 09:47 and the stores would open at 10:00, so I decided it would be prudent to drop into Zeller's and buy some more film (I bought 15 rolls for $50). While I waited for the store to open, I put on my suntan lotion, for it was promising to be a hot, sunny day; and I sprinkled some 3-in-1 Oil on my bicycle chain. For me to take a trip into a big store like Zeller's was not an undertaking to take lightly. It entailed the unpacking of all my gear, front and rear paniers, as they could not be locked up. I had to pile everything into a shopping basket and bring it in with me.

I resumed my ride at 10:15. The old highway was separated from the river by the width of the farmer's fields, and often shielded from view by a line of trees. Across the river, the U.S. shoreline could be seen rising up on the far side of the valley. To my left, atop the ridge and frequently visible, was the new freeway.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~09:45)
Hwy 144: Looking across at town in Maine

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~10:30)
Ville de St. Basile

Saint-Basile

I came into the next town of St. Basile at 10:25. It was a small French-Canadian village which sported a huge seminary. The parking lot around the church at the centre of town was packed, but all was quiet outside. After reading the information plaques, about St. Basile being the cradle of the Madawaska region, I decided to take some time off to have a look at the 'Acadia Museum', down near the river's edge, below the cemetery facing the church. The museum was, of course, closed, but was interesting enough to see from the outside. It was housed in an old wooden cottage dating from 1785. The cottage had been built by the Cyr family, who were among the original settlers to the region.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~10:30)
Saint-Basile: Approaching Seminary Saint-Basile: Historic Seminary

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~10:30)
St. Basile: Historic Plaque
Hommage to the Pioneers: Saint-Basile Parish: 1792-1992
Cradle of the Madawaska
Hommage in 1996 to the Malecite First Nations
From the Grand Chief François-Xavier, chief of La Bourgade, and
from the Sachem Grand-Pierre Hantrwarik, his lieutenant
. The welcome that they knew how to give to the first colonists from
New France of Canada, in 1785, to their territory (Kaps-ku-sis-ug),
the small falls fo the "Madoues-kak", land of the 'Porcs-Épics', was the most cordial.
The name Madawaska is our pride.

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~10:30)
St. Basile: Historic Cyr House

Vignette: The Alexis Cry House
Built at the beginning of the 19th century by Alexis Cry, at 2.4km up the St-John River, facing a cross erected on the south shore where the Acadian pioneers of Madawaska landed in 1785.
Inherited by successive Cry generations down to Isidore Cyr.
1981 - Donated by the Cyr family to La Société Historique du Madawaska. Moved to this site by La Société Historique
1893 - Restored by La Société Historique with grants provided by the following: La Caisse Populaire de Saint-Basile Ltee., Fraser Inc., NB Tel., NB Ministry of Historical and Cultural Resources, Employment and Immigration Canada/ June 1984


 

It was 10:45 before I was once again on my way down the road. As I continued along the river valley, the St. John's River itself was only occasionally visible. On the far side, the companion U.S. road was almost always visible, and at about the same height above the river as I was. Beyond the Maine road climbed a series of green fields, up to the tree-lined crest of the valley. I imagine our side looked much the same. Occasionally, I would pass a small village or some other landmark, such as a church on the far side.

Parallel to the road on which I was cycling, down closer to the river, was a railroad track. As I rode along, a long freight train passed by. Alas, I was too slow with my camera to get a shot. I believe this CN line to be the main freight line from the Maritimes rest of Canada. It passes through Edmundston on its way to the upper reaches of the St. John's River and then over into Quebec.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~11:00)
Hwy 144: Main Rail Line & Looking across at town in Maine

 

Rivière Verte

The next town down the road was Rivière Verte, which I reached at 11:10. I decided to take a detour off the main road, which by-passed the town, so as to ride through the village proper. The detour only took me ten minutes and then I was back on the main road once again.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~11:00)
Hwy 144: Approaching Rivière Verte Ville de Rivière Verte

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~11:30)
Hwy 144: Trestle & old Bridge Support Hwy 144: Tracks & Church on U.S. Side

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~11:30)
Hwy 144: Church on U.S. Side

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~11:30)
Hwy 144: Road Along the Rails Hwy 144: CN Train Along the Rails

 

Madawaska

At 12:00, I was at the entrance to the town of Ste. Anne de Madawaska. I stopped for my regular check in with Sheryl, who was still back at the motel. (I would discover later, that most of my cell phone calls along this stretch would be picked up by American carriers, leading to a major hassle at billing time.)

I passed through Ste. Anne de Madawaska between 12:00 and 12:25.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~12:00)
Ste. Anne de Madawaska: Turnoff Ville de Ste. Anne de Madawaska

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~12:00)
Ste. Anne de Madawaska: Church Ste. Anne de Madawaska: Flower-Pot Man

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~12:00)
Back at Route 144

 

Siegas

I was at the Siegas town line at 12:35, ten minutes later. There I saw yet another long freight train pass. I crossed the 'new' road bridge, built in 1964, and saw next to it the 'old' road, also crossing in a bridge whose year of construction was not marked. (All along this section, I kept seeing traces of the 'older' road. It was ironic since the 'new' road upon I was riding one was now, itself, the 'old' road, having been superseded by the new freeway, whose presence just to my left could always be felt.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~12:30)
Hwy 144: Bridge of Old Highway - At Siegas Hwy 144: The Old Highway at Siegas

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~12:30)
Hwy 144: Roadside Flowers & 'Trails'

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~12:45)
Hwy 144: The 'New' Road and the Old Hwy 144: The 'New' Road and the Newer Road

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~13:15)
Ville de St. Léonard

Saint Léonard

At 13:15, as I came to the town of St. Leonard, I could see an old abandoned railway trestle crossing the river and so decided to take a short detour along the 'New Brunwick Trail’ to get a better look at it. This supposed bike trail has a long way to go. It was little more than a cow track running down towards the river through the cow pastures. The surface had been completely torn up by ATV's. Nevertheless, I did manage to use it to get almost to the river's edge. Only the high embankment of the railway main line blocked my way. I stopped and left my bike, to climb up the embankment and get some photos.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~13:15)
St. Léonard: Tracks Leading to Old Trestle

 


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~13:30)
St. Léonard: The Old Trestle across St. John River

 

The whole detour had lasted only fifteen minutes. I was back up on the main road by 13:30 and was riding on into town. I stopped into a small depanneur to buy some drinks to go along with my lunch: A coke and some cold 'Starbucks' coffee in a bottle. I also bought some fresh ice for my tiny cooler.

I asked the young girl in attendance where there was a good place in town for a picnic. Her response was precious: Tournez <<drette>> aux quatre coins, descends aux <<tracks>>, près des douanes.

14:00 found me down by the riverside at St. Leonard’s Marina Park sitting under the sun roofed of a picnic table and enjoying the view. I was just downriver from the international bridge, with its customs houses on both sides. Besides my coke and cold coffee in a bottle, my lunch consisted of hummus and the rest of the bread I had bought in Rivière du loup. Alas, I had to throw it half of the remaining bread as it had gone mouldy.

On a whim, I decided to ride out onto the bridge for a better photo both up and down river. At first I had only intended to ride to the centre, but once there I figured I might as well ride on across and take a short gander on the U.S. side. What a mistake this would turn out to be!

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~15:00)
St. Léonard: Bridge & Canada Customs

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~14:30)
St. Léonard: Crossing the St. John River
Looking Upstream

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~14:45)
Town of Van Buren - Maine

Van Buren, Maine

I pulled up to the window on my bike and explained that I was riding down the St. John's River along the Canadian side, but figured I would come over to the U.S. side for a quick look of a few minutes. The agent asked for my ID, so I tendered by passport. He examined it, punched some numbers into his computer, and then read the whole passport attentively. Finally he asked me to park the bike and to step inside. My blood pressure began to rise. The agent handed my passport over to another old gentleman, who was currently busy charging some Europeans whatever new fees there now are for entering the U.S. I was left to stand there, ignored, for a number of minutes. Another gentleman was there and I thought he was ahead of me. He was in uniform, with a sidearm. I finally realized he was a soldier on guard.

At last, the agent behind the counter was ready for me. He asked me the same questions I had been asked before. He still had my passport in hand as he walked away and sat down in front of his computer. He spent the longest time punching in numbers and examining computer screens, all the while with a very worried face. Finally, after what seemed like forever, but was really only 15 minutes (14:30-14:45) he came back and handed me my passport and said, "Okay". "Okay what?" I asked. “What was the problem?” “Oh, there's no problem” was his retort.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~14:45)
Van Buren - Maine: Main Street Van Buren - Maine: Church

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~13:45)
Church Seen from Across the River

 

I was quite shaken up by the experience, so my visit to Van Buren, Maine was pretty short. By 15:00 I was done and on my way back across the bridge to my own country. I had no hassle from the agents on the Canadian side. I called Sheryl once I was back across, but did not tell her yet about my adventures, for fear of worrying her unduly.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~15:00/15:15)
Looking Downriver from Van Buren - Maine St. Léonard: Church at South End of Town
Note the church in the distance. 

 

Along the Main Highway

Just south of St. Leonard the old main road joined up with the new one, which ceased at that point to be a controlled-access freeway. It remained, nevertheless, a busy four-laned highway, but thankfully, there was a wide, paved shoulder upon which I could escape the heavy traffic whizzing by at 100+ kph

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~15:20)
Along Hwy 2: The Main Highway

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~15:20)
Route 2: St. John's River and CN Main Line

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~15:35)
Route 2: Bridge on the Old Highway

 

Not too much further down the road was the B&B where we had our reservations for the day. I passed it at 15:35, but since I had arranged with Sheryl during out 15:00 call to meet her there only at 17:00, I had an hour and a half to kill! The hour and a half remaining was really not long to ride all the way on into the nearby town of Grand Falls and still get back again (45 minutes each way), but I thought I would give it a try.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~15:35)
Route 2: Mont Assomption B&B

 


 

On Towards Grand Falls

I rode in on along Hwy 2 as far as exit 175, the first Grand Falls exit, at which point the freeway turned south and crossed over the river. It was 16:00 by that time. It had taken me 25 minutes to get that far from the B&B. I realized that I had no time to ride on into Grand Falls and yet be back at the B&B by 17:00, so reluctantly, within sight of the city, I turned around.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~16:00)
The New Trans-Canada: Bridge at Grand Falls

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~08:45)
The New Trans-Canada: Bridge at Grand Falls

 


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~16:00)
View of Grand Falls - NB

 

The Return Ride

As I rode back along the shoreline, I tried to spy on the opposite shore the exact spot where the U.S. border took its southerly turn. I had learned that the Trans-Canada Highway ran less than a mile east of the border, at the point where it turned southward. Still, I had no luck in seeing any visible landmark of the border on the far side.

On the way back, since I was on the inland side of the four-laned highway, I was able to see the part of the old Hwy 2, which ran alongside the freeway from the railway trestle to as far as the B & B. I took this quieter path most of the way back. Once at the B & B, I would learn that the 'new' four-laned section was about to be superseded by the freeway, yet under construction further up the hill. Then the 'old-old Hwy 2' would run next to the 'old Hwy 2'.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~08:45)
Grand Falls: Main Line Rail Trestle over Valley

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 4: Day 7: ~16:30)
Grand Falls: Main Line Rail over Trestle Grand Falls: 'Train' along Main Line

 

I got to the B&B at 16:45, checked in, and stowed the bike in the basement, next to the breakfast room. Our room was upstairs on the second floor, next to the common bathrooms and showers, along a long hallway of guest rooms. At either end of the hallway were common rooms, with couches and TVs. We had stayed in this very same B&B four years earlier, on our way to the Magdalene Islands.

Sheryl arrived right on schedule at 17:00

Sheryl’s Day: Edmundston to Grand Falls: 59 miles on the odometer (630-571)

After I left, Sheryl spent the morning up in the fields up behind the motel picking clover. She then chatted with the motel staff and learned their whole family history. She was still at the motel when I phoned in at 12:00. There was some dispute over whether I had paid for the second night. Once I insisted that I had paid “Julie” each time, they managed to find the charge receipt.

Sheryl drove on into Edmundston proper, where she had lunch at MacDonald’s and did some shopping. She then set out along the old road that I was following: Route 144. She stopped at the same Zellers at Madawaska Centre where I had been earlier in the day, for some soft drinks: She got gas in Ste. Anne de Madawaska and stopped into the Dollarama in Saint Basile. Finally, she rolled on to the Mt. Assomption B & B to meet me at 17:00.

Evening in Grand Falls

Once we got settled and I showed Sheryl around, we left the B & B to drive on into town. First we took a short driveabout, up the main street and out the back to the top of the town by the freeway. Then we returned and parked along the main street, where we went into the very same restaurant we had frequented back in 1998: La Bouffe Margarit. I had pork chops and Sheryl had fried clams.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~09:15)
Grand Falls: Main Street - La Bouffe

 

While waiting in the restaurant, I studied the map and compared it with the Lodging Guide, to determine how far I might go the next day. I settled on the town of Florenceville, where there was a motel (Which turned out not to be in Florenceville at all!), and called ahead for reservations.

We ended off our evening with coffee at the local Tim Horton's and then returned to our room at the B & B for 21:30.

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Prepared by Roger Kenner
October 2002; October 2004