Post and Photos a combined effort of Cynthia, Bobby, Frances & George
We ventured to Quebec City on a Monday, anxiously awaiting the visit of my Mom and Stepdad the following afternoon. They arrived after a long day, so we took them for a little walk around the Plains of Abraham as it was too early to check into their hotel.
We then did a quick jaunt into the upper part of Old Quebec for a dinner and got our first glimpse into this lovely town.
The following morning, Cynthia, Frances and George visited a botanical garden that had the largest collection of peonys that we could imagine.
It was lovely as there were flowers we’d never seen.
Are these even real?
My mother even took a picture of me and managed not to cut off the top of my head!
We then went to lower Old Quebec to the Musée de la Civilisation and learned just a little of the unique and interesting history of Quebec. We saw several outstanding exhibits, including one regarding the First Nations in Quebec. We topped off the lovely day with a French dinner.
Here’s a short history lesson. While established as a French settlement, England and France fought over Quebec City, and essentially the region, many times. The English eventually won a battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759, during the Seven Years War (or as the US call it, the French and Indian War), that led to the French evacuating the city and ultimately ceding almost all their North American territory to the English.
For those of you unaware (as we were), France still has some remnants of its former empire in North America. Two small islands off the coast of Newfoundland are French territories – St. Pierre and Miquelon.
Another important battle in Quebec occurred during the early part of the American Revolutionary War. Fearing the English having a launching area from the region, Colonel Benedict Arnold, pre-traitor days, led an expedition north. He attempted a siege of Quebec City; after that failed he led an attack on the city. It was in November, his men were tired and starving, and it was a colossal failure — one of the first major defeats to the Continental army, leading to heavy losses and the wounding of Arnold.
The next morning we all visited the Citadelle of Quebec. Positioned on the highest ground of the city, the area has been used defensively since the beginning of the settlement. However, the current fort was built starting in the 1820s to defend against the United States after tensions between the United States and Great Britain had only escalated during the War of 1812.
The Citadel is the oldest military building in Canada and is part of the fortifications, or walls, of Quebec City. Quebec City is one of only two fortified North American cities (the other being in Mexico).
The Citadel is an active military installation and is also the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, a role that performs the ceremonial and constitutional duties of the British Monarch as Canada remains part of the UK’s Commonwealth. The current Governor General is Julie Payette, a impressive woman who is a former astronaut, businesswoman and speaks 6 languages.
Also, the mascot of this regiment is a ROYAL Goat. I’m not sure I understood everything the guide said about the goat, but he is special and there is even a Goat Major assigned to him. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of him during his training exercises.
We had missed the official changing of the guards at 10 am, but did manage to catch a practice or special proceeding going on.
From the Citadel you get a good view of the Chateau Frontenac, one of the most memorable buildings of Quebec. Chateau Frontenac is one of a series of grand hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Bobby took a ferry to the other side of the river and got some lovely views.
There is both an upper and lower part of the city, connected by a bunch of stairs or a funicular. Bobby did the stairs one day, but the rest of us stayed in either upper or lower at a time.
In our wanderings in the lower part, we captured this picture of the lovely Notre-Dame-des-Victoires – not to be confused with the Notre Dame Cathedral just above it in the upper part.
We loved the feel of wandering among the ancient buildings, stopping in little cafes and just exploring.
We even stopped for gelato at a cafe and struck up a conversation with the couple next to us. Turns out they were Canadian diplomats stationed in Vienna, Austria, back home for a visit. George got to practice his German and we had a lovely chat with them.
One of my favorite views was this street shielded from the rain.
Their visit occurred during St. Jean Baptiste Day, held annually on June 24, and is a big holiday in Quebec. Things close, hotels were busy, there were fireworks and concerts. We were venturing back to Old Quebec that day but were nervous it would be super crowded. On the way downtown we stopped at a Costco. It not only was open, it was the busiest madhouse we had ever seen – and Costcos are usually pretty busy. There were 20 registers open – all had lines – but we made it through quite swiftly and it turned out the city wasn’t crowded after all. I guess they were all at Costco.
There is more to come about our Quebec City journey, but we will leave you with this thought for the moment. Poutine is not really our thing.