QUEBEC - ONTARIO
This report was written some years ago by my brother Nicola when
he lived in the United States.
August 18 1996
It's midday and finally after having moved the last things in the new one (and ugly) apartment. I move toward north, along the coast and through New Hampshire and then in the Maine. In the Maine (vacation land like it says the motto on the plates) I left the highway and I took the provincial road to direct me toward Canada. The green dominates the Maine and I foretaste the small trip to the Acadia National Park I'll make to September. There are signs that say to do attention the mooses but accursed I succeed in seeing one. The pines start to appear and on the top of the slope (it is made for saying slope) the border with the change of linguistic watch: the French-Canadian is funny, a kind of English accent but a lot of French. After the hill of the frontier the landscape changes. The first smell was that of wood and in fact after a few hundreds of meters appeared everywhere sawmills on sawmills with artificial hills sorts of shavings and aces. The houses are ... colored!! I had not realized the colorless of the American houses until when I have not arrived in Quebec: red roofs with the white or celestial edge and green walls, blue, clear and alive and spontaneous ax in short. There were much more variety in the forms of the houses, a touch of personality. But the most showy things are the cloths stretched to the sun to dry... I didn't believe that in north-America someone still had the notion of the behavior to dry the cloths to the open air, there are then a lot of mechanics with the classical cars rusted a little bit in the back. Well mechanics, rusted cars and cloths stretched to the sun gave a note of disorder to American monotony.
I arrived to Quebec City at 8 pm to systematize me in one of the usual peripheral motels. For dinner pizza in the old center of the city, the oldest of Canada.
To the awakening I felt a strange noise and leaning out I saw ... rain. Desolate I had breakfast and for fortune, as Mark Twain tells "if you don't like the weather... wait a minute", in fact immediately after the sky from grey it is changed in blue shining. I devote the morning to the city visit that was decidedly interesting. It's built on a rock to peak on St Lawrence (it's the river that to south is thrown in the lake Ontario and then form the falls of the Niagara) that it seems big like the sea to judge from the immense ships berthed to the harbour. It's the only city in the north-America (or so it says the guide) to preserve intact the boundaries of fortification with which French are defended up to 6 and definitive English attack. The roads of the "vieux Quebec" were narrow, steep and once more messy: the AAA guide discourages the ordinary American tourist from looking for the typical road order of all the American cities. Then the roads have a name and not the sterile number like 1-2-3 avenues etc. I Stroll around the city accompanying me with a good chocolate croissant; at 1 pm a salmon sandwich and then I left the city. The original plan was to direct me immediately to south toward Montreal but, after a glance to the map I preferred to go to north passing through the "Laurintades Provincial Reserve" two hundred km of forest that is trying to revive after the heavy human intervention. The pines are still small and some singed ones. The road in remuneration was a follow each other of little ponds with the inevitable small boat on which about ten fishermen tried to fish.
To the evening I begin the series of the Canadian chambre d'hote in a small village on the lac St. jean. To the restaurant the tartiere du lac St Jean (that with other names was a constant of the zone) and that was a full salty cake of ground meat.
I abandon Roberval after a fat breakfast and I coast along first the lake and then the Saguenay to reach St. Lawrence again. The landscape starts to make green and richer. To union of the Saguenay with St. Lawrence it is Tadussac from where the boats depart for whale whatching. The landscape is notable with the road that coasts along a little river. After Tadussac I divert to south along the coast of the St. Lawrence to move me to Montreal crossing again next to Quebec City. The first one drawn from Tadussac to Quebec is a follow each other of small villages that could be said of sea even if in reality they are leaned out on the river. Hungry I stop in a cafe with the promise of crepes that they are revealed worse that has ever tasted.
I arrive to Montreal to the morning but without big enthusiasm. It's only a big city. The only thing that I remember is the Olympic village with the immense athletic stage and the tower to form of parenthesis folded up to 45 degrees (bad architectural description!!).
Ottawa the capital city. Somehow remembers Quebec City for the "old" city center but it rains so I make a stroll by car and when it stops to a not long walk in the district of the restaurants, the open market and shops. In the Parliament plaza there is every day the change of the guard with the English beefeaters (the queen of England is still the formal head of Canada) and a crowd of tourists.
I depart from the city to direct me to north toward the Val of Or through the Verendrye Provincial Reserve. Here is Canada, with green the flashing green of the coniferous ones and lakes and rivers and water that are followed without interruption behind every curve. It seems a blue sea with islands of green or a green sea with islands of blue (pathetic description but this is what I thought). Every few km there are deviations toward zones to camp. I take one of it and I find a sign that says that is possible to drink the water of the river after having boiled it (!!!). Along the road there are then stations of observations for the salmon that go up again the rivers for the joining and in one of these I see some quietly abandoned on the fund of it. Do you know by the way when is the season of the joining? I think is however September. The evening I stay Rouyn-Rouanda in the better chambre d'hote of the series (or cafe and couette as the owner calls it). Small house in blue and white (you remember the colors of the beginning I travel) with big bed room and private bath.
The morning after then the better breakfast to base of prepared crepes to the moment with "bluettes" fresh typical cultivation of the zone; the master is very hospitable, with talks (in French) during the breakfast. Fully satisfied I leave again for directing me toward the superior lake through a nonstop series of parks (we are now in Ontario) from the names like Kattle Lakes Park, Ivanhoe Park, Shoal Park, Poholes Pk. The last line is directly on the oriental edge of the superior lake in the Lake superior Park and in the Pancake Park (!!). The superior lake and part of the immense series of lakes of the north America among them (Ontario, Erie, Michigan, Huron and Superior for the note) that more that lakes seem me great like the sea considering that from many points is difficult to see the opposite coast. I arrive to Salt St Marie waiting for a warm reception but I had a cold reception from the daughter of the mistress that delivers a letter of welcome to me with the instructions for the use (sigh): this is the room, that is the bath, you'll find the breakfasts tomorrow from 7 to 9 am out of the room, the cost is.. The village, sold for beautiful, is irremediably ruined instead by the endless colored neons signs that characterize all the outskirtses of the American towns. In reality I would have liked to go west toward Thunder Bay and the Isle Royale National Park (where cars don't exist) but the journey was too long.
Long trip back toward Toronto. Landscape similar to the precedent and interesting nighttime standstill to Lindsay note for the festival of the theater. I assist to Murder Party a spy story on the Agatha Christie model..
Toronto is interesting and "live". I stay only the morning strolling about for the principal roads (Yonge St and University Av). I would like to come back. I leave the city in the first afternoon to direct me to ... Stradford on Avon where, easy to image, there is a Shakespeare Festival. I go to see King Lear understanding a good 30% of what they say. Amusing the accent of the American actors that they try to imitate that English. Not badly but not beautiful like Richard III of the true Shakesperian Company that I have seen in Milan. The country is built around its three principal theaters and is very nice with the little pond in the green, coasted along from walked and romantic docks and the center full of pub the all to give the impression of old England. Curiously English influence in this part of the Canada is also seen in the toponomy with all the countries that trace in the name, and partly also in the position, the relative countries of England. There are therefore Stradford on Avon, London, Westmister and Widsor.
I leave again for Detroit on which I don't spend words and then, the day afterwards for Cincinnati.
I leave again for Philadelphia for the not exceptional art-exhibition of Cezanne of which I remember only immense crowd with the tails to see the pictures, the stratospheric cost of the stay (I had to accept to be in a hotel of superior category to have the tickets) and only 3-4 pictures: The Arlequin to which I believe is also inspired Picasso, the smoker of Pipe, a self-portrait of old Cezanne (that it seems he loved to say in public how much dowdy pits declaring to not be able to tighten because the hands was washed them the last time 5 days before), and finally one immense of the famous series of the Bathers.
Copyright © 1999 Giuseppe Ruperto. All rights reserved.