Spud Radio

Confederation BridgeOkay you’ve got the curb appeal down pat PEI

For the smallest province in Canada the approach to it is awesome. The Confederation Bridge spans almost 13 kilometres of the Northumberland Strait connecting PEI to the mainland, an impressive start to our visit to the land of my favourite food group, the lowly potato.

PEI potatoesI couldn’t have said it better myself

The Dude scoffs at my potato fixation. He dreams of silky bowls of seafood chowder, a staple on the Island, along with breathtaking views, verdant hills and farmland with crops so lush and healthy and perfectly groomed it looks like a movie set for “The Stepford Farm”.

Red house and potato fieldWho knew potato farming could be so pretty

We set our sights on Charlottetown, the birthplace of Canadian Confederation. Oh yah, people, this is where it all began, that meeting that begat what Canada is today; a hockey-loving, Tim Horton’s coffee guzzling, touque-wearing bunch of folks who say ‘Eh’ a lot, who are for the most part polite (with some exceptions, I’m talking about the snotty clerk from Quebec City) and envy some aspects of the USA but are secretly glad we aren’t them.

street scene charlottetownCharlottetown short summer, long winters equal getting as much patio time as possible

Charlottetown has a happening downtown with busy restaurants, theatres and touristy shops vying for tourist business, which is apparently booming based on the packed dining terraces we pass.

Two things drive the tourism business here, a fictional red-headed heroine and the love of ice cream. Anne of Green Gables trinket shops abound. Apparently the ginger-headed pixie’s legacy includes candy pusher. Her chocolate emporiums can be found everywhere, chocolate-covered potato chips anyone? If you are strolling around PEI and suddenly find a giant bovine in front of you, a Cows franchise won’t be far away. Pumping out pricey cones with cutesy names like Mooey Gooey, Don Cherry (yummy), Fluff n’ Udder (might wanna’ rethink the optics of that name) Cowberry (again people, visuals!) the ice cream empire is moo..ving right along (a cow pun, how unexpected).

cows storeYou should see the line at the Anne of Green Gables chocolate shop

PEI is the ultimate road-trip province. Highways, little more than country roads, criss-cross the province. The GPS, always looking for the shortest route, constantly chirps instructions to turn left on an unpaved road. These usually end in heart-break with the Grey Ghost, so we’ve learned to ignore her and wait for the “recalculating” to kick in.

Lady & cowBessie and Martha from Florida throw it down at the COWS ice cream factory

Despite the tourist trappings that are an economic necessity here, PEI feels homey. It’s so damned pretty and peaceful and has such beautiful vistas that we start having The Talk. You know the one– you’re on vacation, you end up at a great spot that feels warm and welcoming, the food is good, people are great… so you start imagining what it would be like to live here, not full-time mind you, but part of the year, real estate is cheap. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I remind The Dude about his boredom threshold and what is involved with potato farming or running a Cow’s outlet.

Prim lighthouseLighthouses, you gotta love ’em

Befitting an ocean-locked province, lighthouses oversee every other cape. The Dude feels about lighthouses much like he does about churches, after about the fifth viewing, fatigue takes over. He manages two, persuaded by the promise of a seafood lunch for good behavior.

Blackboard of goodnessThe blackboard of goodness at the Chowder House

We are cautiously optimistic after the New Brunswick Wonderbread fiasco. We enter the Chowder House to discover good sign #1, a table of weathered locals. If every table is filled with sunburned tourists and the menu has fun names for food items, run, immediately. Good sign #2, the menu is on a blackboard listing items with clever descriptions designed to change your mind at least three times before you order. So descriptive in fact, that I order the curried crab corn chowder. The promise of the homemade buns served with it, definitely influenced the decision. I take the seafood plunge at last. The Dude, bent but not bowed by his last lobster roll encounter, orders one again, he is nothing if not optimistic. Optimism is rewarded, maybe this seafood thing isn’t so bad after all.

farm & oceeanOcean meets farm, so pretty it makes my eyes hurt

Rolling through the small towns that dot PEI feels like being transported back to the 1950’s. There’s something really homey about the province, despite the tourist trappings. They gotta pay the bills after all. Ice-cream, seafood and of course potatoes, so beloved they named their radio station SPUD FM.

How can you not love this place.

What’s with the Wonderbread?

Marois island

New Brunswick has some pretty spectacular parks to Meander through

First of all, bless their little hearts, everyone is bilingual here. New Brunswick advertises itself as the only officially bilingual province. I sense a little self-promotion, but so far so good in our dealings with the Acadians.

Base of operations is Camping Colibri. Fronted by an enormous waterslide, it’s an enormously popular stay-all-summer spot for Acadians. Campgrounds, by and large, are divided into two sections: those who view them as places to stay for a few days and those who park their units, build decks and populate garden areas with gnomes who live amongst an assortment of shiny, fluttery ornaments in a ten-square-foot yard for the entire summer. I imagine their home bases as permanent garage sales, which is unkind because, as previously noted, Acadian homes are meticulously maintained and warmly evocative of pride and culture. But the proximity to next door means you better love thy neighbour.

Acadians are easily spotted, their campsites are festooned with red, white and blue lights, ribbons and other paraphernalia. They are loud and enthusiastic. To my ears the rapid-fire French leaves absolutely no opportunity to eavesdrop by pick out a few words to interpret the conversation. I simply nod and throw out a couple bonjours and bon nuits to fit in. I am tempted to buy a jaunty Acadian baseball cap to solidify my street cred.

Acadian signage

The ‘Ole Red White and Blue, Acadian-style

We’ve all been to them. Those historical villages with staff dressed in period-appropriate garb, with the fake gunfights or spontaneous dance-offs with the town-folks. Invariably there will be opportunities to feed your face with ice cream or buy a t-shirt logo’d with a snappy slogan related to the venue.

Horse & buggy

It looks like the transmission has seized up

We’ve settled for a week at Bertrand a tiny village outside of Caraquet, the heart of Acadian country. One of the main attractions is the Acadian Historic Village which is like experiencing a master’s class in how to showcase historical content in an entertaining way.

Lady on the loom

Martha whips up another blanket for the church bingo

The site is enormous, surrounded by old growth oaks and pines, the pathways are dirt roads in keeping with the authenticity of the place. No made-in-China costumes and fake old school furniture here. Employees who work here toil for their wages churning butter, baking bread, making shoes, forging horseshoes, tending crops and farm animals, even milling their own wood, all while providing little anecdotes about the history of the Acadians who settled here beginning in 1770.

A shoemaker explains that each pair of the leather moccasins he makes by hand take about eight hours to complete. The price of $35 seems a bargain in relation to the work involved.

Miss Bessy

Maloney, get the hell out of my face!

Our inner child comes out as we moo at cows, make faces at sheep grazing near the fences and throw out a few cock-a-doodle-doos at the Roosters strutting through the hen house. The animals, used to the asinine antics of humans, largely ignore us.
Even the restaurant remains true to the time period. It serves only food that would have been consumed in the 19th century with ingredients on hand at that time. I am picturing whole pigs roasted on an open fire with a side helping of ‘head cheese.’ (Truly the most disgusting food on earth and a horrific childhood memory, but I digress.)

Sepia scene

Finally, I get to use my “Old Western Town” camera option

The menu turns out to be much simpler: beef stew or vegetable soup with freshly baked bread served by a waitress in traditional dress on the wooden deck surrounding the building. We have a clear view of the community church where a group of men in period costume appear to be hosting a town hall debate. We hurry past the crowd gathered around the men as I fear The Dude will jump into the discussion with a few Rene Levecques to stir up the crowd.

Old gas station

Ahh, the good old days when buying gas didn’t empty your bank account

Day-tripping around Caraquet and surrounding area we search for an authentic seafood restaurant without cutesy lobster bibs or names like Lobster Mania or The Crab Crawl. You know the type, tourist traps with a McDonalds line-up of tried and true food that non-locals think are authentic East Coast dishes.

Donkey by fence

Eeyore retires to New Brunswick, Pooh and Tigger, lacking Canadian passports reside in the Florida Keys

We head towards Miscou Island, a lobster and fishing mecca and the historic Miscou lighthouse built in 1856, one of the oldest in the region. The island is home to around 650 residents and we counted four churches during the drive. The Island, once a hotbed of hallelujahs, is now strangely mute about organized religion. Despite their pristine appearance, many churches appear barely used, their congregations dwindling and with them the ability to maintain them. We suspect many of them function mainly as tourist stops. Some may be turned into condos as we’ve seen in other towns.

Marois church pic

One of four churches on Miscou Island

As we drive back, we spot it, perched on the bay, surrounded by working boats, decks piled with lobster traps and fish nets. Terrasse a’ Steve, a veritable shack, surrounded by aged lobster traps, the terrace essentially a sand pile with picnic tables under a thatched roof. It looks so authentic we expect a peg-legged pirate to emerge from the kitchen.

Steve's place

Lobster traps surround Steve’s, a good sign we hope

The Dude is excited, the Dame cautiously optimistic about fish and chips or a non-shelled food item. A childhood where fish dinners were pre-packaged stick-like items has not prepared her for actual seafood. It starts well, a big platter of steamed mussels that The Dude slurps down with enjoyment. With trepidation the Dame opts for mackerel, served with potatoes, reasoning that anything that comes with potatoes can’t be bad. A lobster roll for The Dude, which in these parts is the New Brunswick equivalent of a P&J sandwich.

Steve's terrace

Funky outdoor eating area, sand floor, weathered beams, what could possibly go wrong!

Steve, you of the cool terrace and funky lobster cage décor, maybe your reviews have gone to your head, maybe undercooked microwaved potatoes, dry fishy tasting mackerel and, horror of horrors, a lobster roll served on what appears to be Wonderbread folded around a mound of mayonnaise and lobster, are what passes for authentic seafood. I gotta hope it gets better than this. Really enjoyed the view though.

coloured ships

Crayon coloured ships near Miscou Island

Next..the land of the Spud

Love Acadian Style

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Umm, how do we get to New Brunswick….anybody?

I gotta confess, I’m glad to leave Quebec and head into New Brunswick. Don’t get me wrong, Quebec is a beautiful, culturally rich province with great historical significance. Okay, that’s the good stuff; the bad stuff is that it’s also in many cases really, really ethnocentric.

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New Brunswick, making it easy to buy booze in either of the official languages

Trois Rivieres, is a prime example. All historical sites, of which there are many, have lengthy placards with descriptions of the historical significance. We would have loved to know what the significance was, but there was none of that namby-pamby French/English translation stuff.

It feels like a big middle finger to any non-francophones who might visit. Where’s the love Quebec?

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One bridge, two solitudes

Even our exit from Quebec over the bridge to Campbellton N.B. feels like we’re leaving another country. The Quebec side, Pointe-à-la-Croix, has duty free stores selling 60 packs of beer for a relatively cheap price and a “cheap smokes” hut fronts the entrance to the bridge.

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Wysote where the saying is who needs a six-pack when you can have a 60 pack

Okay, on to New Brunswick. Truth be told, I know little about the province, other than it is in the east, New Brunswickers I’ve met are lovely folks, and its coastline encompasses one side of the world famous Bay of Fundy, which operates like the ocean’s washing machine, twice a day.

Mick and Acadian bldg

Wow somebody likes primary colours

Northeast New Brunswick, is Acadian country. A soccer team you say? Perhaps a secret society devoted to the preservation of wooden accordions?

No, they are in fact French speakers descended from the original French settlers in Canada, many of whom have French and Metis blood. If you go down to Louisiana you will find more Acadians, called Cajuns, with their strange mix of pigeon French.
Acadians aren’t like Quebecers in that they have their own flag, culture and a much better sense of humour. They are fiercely patriotic to their Acadian heritage. As we head down the Atlantic coastline we notice the flags, blue and white with a yellow and red star in the top left corner. The image abounds. The flags are often complemented by red, white and blue coloured barrels, garden planters, chairs. The Americans flag-fliers have nothing on these guys.

flag house

Pierre hung his Acadian bath sheets on the deck in anticipation of the festivities

We are aiming for Bathurst for no reason other than we’ve heard the name before and believe it will have a movie theatre. We’ve got a hankering for a night in a darkened room with sticky floors and a tub of over-priced greasy popcorn. It gives The Dude an opportunity to vent about the lack of quality films, price of said popcorn and the virtues of Robert DeNiro, an acting god in The Dudes’ opinion. Given her opening, the Dame explains the concept of escapism, profit margins and why DeNiro hasn’t done anything worthwhile in years. All-in-all, an exhilarating and air-clearing night out.

Sometimes your intended destination doesn’t cut it, sometimes the open road feels more appealing than the stop. We move on past Bathhurst, heading south and end up in Beresford, N.B., a one-stop fantasy fun-land RV Park with a massive waterslide and a kabillion munchkins running amuck. In other words hell on earth.

The dog on the pier

You know a nice walk on a wooden pier is just what The Dog needed after a long day in the truck

But, hey, it’s a happening place. The bingo game is in full swing when we arrive. We resist the temptation to grab a dauber and dive in and instead settle for a plate of Poutine pour moi (Oh, yah baby!) and the traditional hamburger/French fry combo for The Dude. These last-minute, one-night stops play havoc with the good intentions of eating right. Damn you, plate of deep fried potato, gravy and cheese goodness.

With the bingo and fried food stop over, the road takes us down the Acadian trail, and winds along the Atlantic coastline past clapboard houses with multiple additions tacked on to the original two-story structure. They’re like Lego houses, here’s an empty wall, let’s add a room for Grandma.

White acadian home

A standard home in this part of New Brunswick, car lot flags optional of course

Some are so adorable with their tidy gardens, yard adornments and well-kept lawns it makes the viewer yearn for simpler times. A brisk business in miniature windmills, lighthouses and wagon wheels is being done in New Brunswick, I sense a franchise opportunity.

Next…wonder bread and the Full Acadian

Dude’s addendum

What’s the difference between a tree house and a twee house?

Answer: Elmer Fudd.

twee house

Okay, wishing well, check. Sailboat, check. Miniature lighthouse, check. Acadian flags, check.

But seriously folks, a tree house is made of wood and built for children to have fun in. A twee house is made of wood and built for adult viewing pleasure

A tree house is most often basic, little more than a rectangle in a tree. A twee house is never basic. It has gingerbread and curlicue trim below the eaves, colourful shutters and window treatments, bright paint in primary colours with a contrasting roof and door and immaculate front verandas with chairs places just so.

A tree house is in the backyard. A twee house may have a treehouse in the backyard, along with the aforementioned miniature windmills, lighthouses and wishing wells.

Twee house

Meet the winner of the life-size gingerbread house, East Coast edition

A treehouse relies on natural leaves and branches for its charm while a twee house is dependent on its riding lawn mower to keep the grass clipped to the standard of a Home and Garden cover.

Let’s hear it for the Acadians, Canada’s original twee huggers.


A twee sign made out of twees

Three Pistols and a Pearl


Things really are different in the east

I think about Willie Nelson whenever we leave a long-stay campsite. “On The Road Again” in his signature twangy nasal voice plays in my head and I am secretly glad to get going again. With Grey Ghost hitched up, The Dog perched on his pile of dog beds in the cab of the truck, The Dude chugs an energy drink and I fiddle with the GPS for our next stop.

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Having parked on the wrong side of the pier, John watches forlornly as Popeye’s boat sails away

Au Revoir Quebec City, it’s been a wild ride but we’ve got other roads to travel, like Jacques Cartier who discovered the St. Lawrence, we will meander along the river, minus the boats, scurvy, starvation and armed conflict parts of the journey.


Residents of town have shortened the name and are officially known as the “Po” people of Quebec

We embark on a side-trip to pick up a parcel from home. Our destination, the bustling metropolis of Pahenagamook, population 2,700, which loosely translated means “all the good town names were taken”.

A storm rolls in

Yet another thunderstorm follows the Meanderers, a sacrifice to the Gods may be in order

A torrential thunderstorm the night before flooded the main street of town and the road was clogged by trucks and workers. I don’t know if this is the norm or the “new norm” for weather, but we have experienced more wild thunderstorms in our brief stay in eastern Canada than my entire 20 plus years in B.C. I await the locusts which are apparently the next sign.

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A brief stop while cycling through Trois Pistoles to the St. Lawrence

Trois Pistoles–you know this town gotta’ have some serious gun-slinging history to it. A French settler, a buxom farmers’ daughter and the stable hand who loved her, type of story. Typical of our Canada and our gun laws, it was actually named for a goblet that cost three “pistoles” an old French coin. I prefer my version.

Our campsite is huge, there are bike trails nearby, the St. Lawrence lies below, a perfect place to spend a number of days, except, there is no room at the inn. Apparently Three Pistols is a Quebec hotspot. We see the attraction as we bike through town down the hill toward the ferry landing, where travelers can voyage across to the northern side of Quebec. The river is magnificent, so large that a tide twice a day uncovers the murky brown bottom where people forage for oysters and mussels. Or phlegm in a shell, as I like to refer to them.

We notice something strange as we venture east, a distinct lack of representation by other provinces. We are in a sea of La Belle Province Blue and White. Stops at gas stations and restaurants reveal that we are the only Anglophones. English speakers are non-existent. Where are our fellow adventurers, the hordes of sunburned, map-waving tourists snapping photos of each other?

The Dame & Pearl

Pearl a former high school wrestling champ, attempts to get The Dame in a headlock for taking so long to arrive

Just as we feel our tiny stock of French phrases is exhausted, we arrive at Metis Sur Mer and meet Pearl and Bob, finally and rather late it appears, as Pearl’s first words are “It took you long enough.”

Pearl is the feisty, gracious unofficial historian of all that is Metis Sur Mer and the surrounding area. She is mother to one of my dearest friends and has been awaiting our visit since our stop in Ottawa, which by my reckoning is one flat tire, a hospital stay, and five stops behind us.

I blame traffic.

After a cup of tea and some unbelievably good coconut lemon cupcakes (fresh from the church bazaar and made by one of her cousins, we are told) we are whisked out to Pearl and Bob’s car for a tour of the area.

Big Wind

There are dozens of these wind machines in the area, they are over 300 feet tall including the blades

Bob, Pearl’s 95-year-old partner, still golfs, drives like an Indy pro and has the energy and observation powers of a man thirty years younger.

Metis Sur Mer is a tiny historical town of 600 souls founded by Scottish settlers in the early 1800’s. It also had the distinction of having the only Anglophone school in this part of Quebec. Which seems weird given that we are in what appears to be the cottage country of Quebec. Maybe they smuggle in the students.

Old bridge

The Dude, Bob & Pearl contemplate the Pont Belanger covered bridge in use since 1925

Pearl, a walking, talking encyclopedia of fun facts, is apparently related to half the population of the area. She points out homes owned by The Birks and The Molsons. If you don’t know those names you have never owned jewellery or bought beer.
The area is a mix of craftsy cottages and richy-rich mansions surrounded by a rainbow of flowers and impossibly green foliage. It’s gardening on steroids out here.

Metis gardens & St. Lawrence

Just enjoy the view

Metis Gardens, the main tourist draw, is one of those stops The Dude fears. Hordes of tourists, kitschy displays, tacky presentations. He couldn’t have been more wrong. The garden is peaceful, verdant and divided into sections that allow for meandering aimlessly, at which we excel. The piece de resistance is the art garden, a wild puzzle of interactive displays that are reflective of the artist’s vision of nature. I’m certain in some cases, psychedelic drugs or shots of tequila were involved.

Mick in the garden

The Dude traumatized by a monkey-bars incident in his youth, refuses to come down from the Garden’s spiral display

Thanks Pearl and Bob, and can you get me that recipe for those cupcakes.

Next, Au Revoir and Bonjour?

The Dark Side of Quebec City

b&w shot

Ahh festival time in Quebec City, the Rolling Stones are here, or as I call them “the musical crypt keepers”

Later, if asked about memories of Quebec City, I’ll probably say, “It was great except for…..”

Except for the drive to Quebec City from Sherbrooke, where 50 kilometers from our destination the driver of a semi waved frantically to indicate something was wrong with the Grey Ghost–a flat tire. CAA to the rescue. Between sign language, pointing, muttered French and English, it all worked and we were on the road again in an hour.

Entering Quebec City in the rain

Preparing for the weather is like playing roulette, you gotta go with the flow

Except for the weather, which ranged from scorching one day to full-on rain the next. The trailer awning, left out after a day of sun, filled with rain that night as a torrential downpour soaked the campsite. As The Dude poked with our floor mop attempting to drain off the water, a cracking sound occurred as the right arm broke under the weight of the water.

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Former banker Monsieur Morin explains to the Dude that duct tape and wire are the rookie RV’ers best friend

Monsieur Morin to the rescue. The ex-banker turned RV repairman spent the afternoon pulling and prying, whistling and occasionally shouting–“Yes.”–as he worked through the problem of reattaching the awning arm so it wouldn’t come loose during our travels, taking out the station wagon next to us.

Except for The Dude’s brief stay in L’Hospital, as blogged previously, which left The Dame with nothing to do but shop at the Laurier Mall across the street, a hardship she somehow endured.

Quebec city street

Canada’s own little piece of Europe

Now for the great part of Quebec City, and it is a great city. The campground had a shuttle service taking camera-wielding tourists into the city and dispersing them to other tour buses in town. Having experienced the freeway system surrounding Montreal, let’s just say that Quebec City’s is worse. It involves two bridges one apparently pre-war with such narrow lanes that you were constantly playing chicken with the car beside you.

Once you get to old Quebec, all is forgiven. Sure, there are plenty of tourist honey traps full of Fleur-de-lis t-shirts and moose bric-a-brac to take home with you. But the impressive part is the respect given to the heritage of the place. It is a living museum within the walls that surround it.

Quebec City tour 169

The shopping district, no big box stores here

This is as close to Europe as you can get in Canada, minus the security pat-down and lack of leg room. Tiny epicuries line the narrow streets, alongside cafes with tables outside under over-sized awnings and musicians playing violins hustling for tourist coins. Massive bronze statues of French heroes we’ve never heard of abound, tourists with selfie-sticks race from one spot to another, confirming with their IPhones that the moment existed.

Carriage in front on Frontenac

Going old school in Quebec

We explore the city the first time on a double-decker tour bus, sweltering in the muggy heat. The second time is by foot, hoods pulled up over our heads against the sporadic rainfall. Walking through the old town over the uneven sidewalks, we have a hankering for crepes. Food cravings are weird, and constant in the Maloney household. When you are on a craving mission nothing but the object of your desire will do.

Object of our desire

The object of our desire is found

We crisscross the city looking for the elusive object of our desire. Plenty of restaurants offer Poisson, charcuterie, baguettes, crème glacee (I’ll let y’all google up those words) but after an hour of wandering and constant stops to admire a building or peer into a shop we find the Creperie at L’Hotel Chateau Frontenac.


The Chateau Frontenac or as we call it “the temple of all things we cannot afford”

The Chateau Frontenac is one of those hotels that make me wish I was wearing Chanel and carrying a little dog in my purse. Doormen guard the entrance and it has marble flooring and exotic wood paneling and an art gallery and a beautiful old bar where rich people casually toss off a glass of forty dollar brandy and discuss the problems of getting good help. The Dude and I, wearing scuffed Skechers and baseball caps, stand out like Paris Hilton at a church social.

Monty Falls

Montmorency Falls the lesser known but taller cousin of Niagara Falls

Another great thing is Montmorency Falls which, fun fact here, are the highest falls in North America at 275 feet. Aha you say, ‘wrong grasshopper’, Niagara has the highest. Non, monsieur, Quebec’s are higher but Ontario’s are bigger and thus more well known. See, size does matter.

The trip up to Monty

Riding up to the Falls, hoping Quebec’s tram record is better than their bridge record

Next… three guns and a reminder of home

Hmmm did somebody say Plan B

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A view of the Three er, Two Rivers that surround Trois Riviere

Using Shawinigan as our base camp (sort of like Everest climbers but without the mountain and fear) we set out to visit Trois Rivieres, our original destination where we were unceremoniously sent packing along with our request for a pull-through site. Even banishment sounds better in French.

Trois Rivieres is a perky city perched on the side of the St. Lawrence. It doesn’t actually have three rivers running through it, in fact the name has nothing to do with three rivers, I guess Trois sounded better than Deux, n’est pas?

apartment building in Trois Riviere

These type of apartments abound in Quebec, old school fire escapes

The city is through and through Francophone. Beautiful heritage buildings including monasteries, stone churches and government buildings are scattered through the historic downtown area and include inscribed plaques detailing the history of said building without a single word of English. It became a game of picking out the few French words we know to piece together what it was we were looking at.

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Our bilingual guide kindly points to the non-bucket washrooms during the Prison tour

Number one tourist attraction in Trois Rivieres is the jail. Not just any jail mind you but a jail dating back to 1822. In operation until 1986, it’s a fully-operational crowbar hotel with NO BATHROOMS. I kid you not, each cell had a slop bucket, or in the case of numerous inmates, a couple of slop buckets to do your business in. I don’t know about you but given those circumstances my colon wouldn’t work for a year.

The Dude in the Big House

The Dude is sentenced to the Big House for tourist infraction #3, wearing sunglasses indoors at all times

We booked the English-speaking tour for four o’clock, which it turns out was the only English-speaking tour. The museum has a tour holding room where we sat along with about ten other jail junkies waiting to visit the Big House. It became clear why there are no English translations anywhere. It turns out we were the Anglos on tour.
The cells and other areas are kept in their original state and reinforces the “I am never going to jail, ever” mantra I’ve subscribed to all my life (thanks Mom).

solitary cell

Yikes, this is definitely a step down from a room at the Four Seasons, note the lack of bucket. Ahem, wear shoes on this tour

Creepiest moment of the tour was the jail cellar and the solitary confinement cell, a room with a dirt floor and no lights, where inmates who misbehaved were kept, sometimes for days at a time. The guide shut off his flashlight and let us absorb the absolute quiet and darkness that the inmates were subjected to. No slop buckets here, the inmates had to do their business in a corner. I would have been crying for my mama after five minutes, The Dude in about three.

quaint historic house

Beautiful Heritage buildings are the norm in Trois Riviere, this one is slowly being devoured by the local foliage

Our plans to visit Quebec City next were delayed, our chosen campsite was full until after the weekend. This was our first experience with “no room at the Inn”. The siren call of summer brings with it the exodus of suburban familys leaving their comfortable homes and bathrooms for a visit to a campground, where they will eat tubular meat products, sit huddled around a roaring fire and shower in a public washroom where young children wander about peeing on the floor.

Plan B, assuming we had a Plan A, needed to be put into action. Bring out map, point finger at map — Sherbrooke here we come.

scary bridge

This campsite bridge is one cracked 2’x4′ away from a lawsuit

Sherbrooke has that feeling of an old favourite toy. A little tattered around the edges, operates fine but it’s seen better days. The campground was massive, situated on a little island that had a bridge that resembled something your Uncle Henry slapped together on the weekend. It has the look of something that will be in the news sometime in the future “disaster at Quebec campsite as bridge collapses”.

2 creepy stilt walkers

Tall or short, clown-like performers will always be creepy to me

Summer is festival season; people love to get their groove on in the few warm months here. Driving through town, we notice barricades being set up and what looks like a stage and a number of establishments offering sustenance to weary travelers. Thanks goodness the menu has pictures of both liquid and food products and beer appears to be a universally understood word. Down the lane from our chosen establishment a large stage is being set up, along with a beer table.

It turns out we’ve arrived for one of the free Concerts de la Cite that occur throughout the summer with live music and elements of cirque du soleil thrown in. Above the street lithe acrobats frolic and hang from a wire crisscrossing the road. The wire appears to be attached to an apartment building window. Court jesters on stilts walk by. This must be what being on acid feels like.

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The bass player wards off an attack by an irate fan

We sit in an outdoor patio enjoying the live street show, watching crowds of Sherbrooke citizens, young, old, Gen X, Gen Y, hippy, yuppy, you name it, every clichéd generational group was represented, including a contingent of the Man-bun crowd with a respectable showing by the side-part guys. A duo sets up inside the patio and plays great renditions of classic 70’s rock and blues.

I think I’m liking this Plan B business.

acrobat at rest

Best view in the house