On The Road Canada – Day 11 -13: St. Lawrence River, New Brunswick

Day 11

I watched the sun come up this morning over the St. Lawrence River. It was 5:00am here when that event occurred.  It turns out that the bed in our little motel room just proved to be too hard for my bursitis, so I spent most of the night in a chair waiting for the aforementioned event. It was worth it. The only other person arousing at that hour was a lonely fisherman. I watched him for about ten minutes. He didn’t catch any fish, but I don’t suspect that was the true reason he was out there. I think he, like me, just wanted to savor his surroundings.

Given all this time to think I have pretty much decided to forsake the two to three day trip around the peninsula and just head over to Nova Scotia instead.  That is if I can convince my wife. She seems to have veto power over almost everything I do now days.  But, since she seems to be sleeping pretty soundly right now I will have to wait to pose that alternative route.  I think I would rather spend a few days in a row at one place in the maritime providences than another day in French Quebec.

My wife says I am fixated on it, but I just can’t seem to get over the seeming arrogance of the French-speaking Canadians. As I said before, everywhere we went in Ontario, and I expect everywhere we will go in New Brunswick we will see dual English/French signs, menus and about everything else. But in French Canada there is almost nothing in English here.   While it would be nice to go to some local museums we have come across I’m pretty sure there would be nothing in English for us there so what would be the point. It just seems hospitable if you are surrounded by people speaking another language you would provide basic things in their language as well as your own.

Day 12

It seems every day in our visit to Canada is not without its challenges. But, then again that is what makes life interesting, I guess.  It is kind of like in 1987 during our first vacation as a married couple I lost my wife in a Walmart store in Bozeman Montana. I don’t remember too many other details about that vacation, but I do remember searching for my new bride for over an hour before I found her. But that is a story, so I will get back on track.

We are now in a small motel room in Riviere-Tois-Pistoles. It is a very small town about 200 km north from Quebec (don’t ask how many miles that is as I have yet to figure that out). It is a pretty crude but clean room. The sign above the small sink says don’t drink the water. The motel is off the main road going into town and about a 1/2 mile down a gravel road. There is no a/c or TV, but that is ok. What makes this room so special is its location; it is about 50 ft from the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River. And believe it or not it has wireless internet access, at least up close to the office. The picture here is of a young fellow dipping his feet in the St. Lawrence, which I also plan on doing before we leave in the morning.

Riviere-Tois-Pistoles doesn’t have a restaurant, but it does have a small store that is pretty well-stocked with cheese and such, so that is where we went to get our supplies for supper tonight. I think eating in the view from the picnic table where we will dine will be much more pleasurable than the food and that is how it should be.  It was in the upper 80s when we left Quebec but right now it is in the upper 60s with the wind blowing off the River which is probably a mile wide here. I guess I will have to haul out a warmer jacket from the luggage to keep warm.

But now on to the challenges for the day. We are taking Quebec Highway 132, which is a two lane road that goes all the way to the mouth of the river. It will take about two more days to get around before we come back down into Nova Scotia. During our first 200 km of travel we have only come across two small pull-offs where you could stop and take in the St. Lawrence view. One of the difficulties is that for the most part all the land that adjoins the St. Lawrence seems to be in private hands. But we did find the secret to alleviating that problem and that is to seek out the Catholic Church in each town; they are usually against the river, so their parking lots make excellent viewing stands.  But there are no restrooms there, so we have to stop again later for my wife’s frequent necessity stops.

The last challenge for the day was when we stopped for a late lunch. We went to a chicken place called Saint Ambien, I think (by the way almost everything in Quebec Canada is named Saint something.) We ordered from the counter and then went to a table to wait for our food. A few minutes later they said our food was ready, but we couldn’t eat it at the tables we were sitting at as we ordered our food from the “Rapide” counter. We tried to explain that we had no idea there was any difference about where we ordered but they at least feigned understanding of English. Except for one, all the tables in the room were empty, but they insisted that we could not eat our food there.  The apparent manager of the place came out and told us again that we ordered from the take-out counter, so we had to eat our food outside in the parking lot!  As usual my wife took this much more calmly than I did even though she deemed her chicken uneatable because it wasn’t cooked enough for her.

Anyway here we are with our nerves settling down and getting ready for the challenges of tomorrow.  I want to include one final picture in this unusually long post (sorry about that). I will undoubtedly be taking many more as the sun sets over the river.

Day 13

Here we are at the end of day 12 of our Canadian adventure, and we are now in New Brunswick Canada. As I had hoped my wife agreed to skip the rest of the peninsula route and to move on to another English-speaking province.  Coping with french only was becoming tiring to me and apparently to her also.  We drove about 350 km today to get to Campbellton New  Brunswick which is the gateway to the rest of our trip. I’m sure the New Brunswick folk don’t consider themselves a gateway but many vacationers probably do.

Tomorrow we will see an historical site that has been restored around the Acadian history. From the literature it looks like a Williamsburg type event.  I am looking forward to it with great anticipation. Since we were on the road for the most part of the day no unexpected events happened.  We even managed to find a pretty good restaurant that allowed us to eat our lunch at a table inside. But, of course, it was located in English-speaking New Brunswick. 🙂

On-The-Road Canada: Day 4-7 Ottawa


Day 4

We went to the Canada Science and Technology Museum before trying to check into our hotel. They had a lot of neat exhibits there and a wall of fame that had about thirty pictures and related bios there. I recognized a few, but not many, names on that wall. Of course one thing they did invent here was the snowmobile. Here is a picture of one of the first ones. They claim Alexander Graham Bell as their own; I think he was born in Canada but spent most of his life in the U.S.   Anyway the museum proudly presented the accomplishments Canadians have had in science.

After the museum we were off to our hotel.  I got a really good rate at a premium hotel on-line, but it proved to be a pretty old hotel with pretty a poor Internet connection. We will be moving to another place tomorrow.

Since we are downtown among all the historic stuff we will be doing most of our touring on foot tomorrow. We will be staying here for a couple of days before heading north. We haven’t decided whether we will go to either Montreal or Quebec, or maybe both, from here. I guess that will be decided tomorrow.


Some Initial Observations…

I know I have only been in Canada for four days now, but I am ready to come to at least one conclusion. That conclusion is that Canada is not famous for food.  Maybe they just take the “eat to live” mentality pretty seriously here. We went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner last night and that, along with most of my previous meals here, was the basis for this observation. When we sat down we were given the usual salsa and chips, but the salsa was really nothing more that diced tomatoes. There was no cilantro, jalapeño, onion, or anything else included. It was just chopped up tomatoes. When I told the waiter, I would like something with a little kick in the salsa he managed to find a bottle of hot sauce.

I ordered my usual Chimichanga and when it came it was composed of a tortilla wrapped around pinto beans and a small amount of pot roast that was baked in an oven until the bottom of the tortilla was pretty much black. Again, there were no spices, no red or green sauce, no cheeses of any type. Just a dried out baked tortilla!  Beside that was another pile of pinto beans and some white rice. I guess I should have known better than eat at a Mexican restaurant in Canada. I don’t expect many Mexican to make it past the U.S. to get into Canada.

But in looking back at the meals of the previous days I can see a trend here. All the meals have been pretty much bland with little or no seasoning involved. I am coming to love the Canadians that we meet here, but God bless them they just can’t cook. 🙂  I am hoping to be proven wrong when we move closer to the maritime provinces in the next week or so. Surely, they will know how to cook at least seafood.

Before our dinner last night we did take a one and a half mile, or maybe I should say a 3 km walk around Ottawa. This is going to be a very interesting day for us. There is much to see here, so we are already extending our stay through till Saturday morning.


Day 5

Parliament Building

As expected today was an exciting time. We spent most of the day around the Parliament complex. Here are some pictures of that. We also toured much of the area around the complex and went to the Museum of Currency. It was also a very beautiful day here in Ottawa, sunny and in the 70s. I forgot to take a hat along with me so now I have a sun burned bald head! Gotta remember the hat for tomorrow or I can expect some peeling scalp later in the week.

One of the many cathedrals in the city

The brochure provided at the places we visited gave us a somewhat abbreviated history of the country. Of course it parallels that of the U.S. in some regards but is different in others. Where the U.S. had a north/south struggle over the issues of slavery the Canadians had one over language/culture. It was quite some time before they finally resolved that and unified into one Canada. There were a good number of heroes statues around the building and a brief history of each in the brochures.

Museum of Currency. Quite a place

I think I most admired Lester B. Pearson who was prime minister from 1963 through 1968. He gave Canada a peaceful and compassionate face by his work in helping form the U.N. and bringing universal healthcare and pensions to the nation. I wish we had someone like that to guide us in the U.S. into a more compassionate track. I had hoped that our current president would fit that mold but that doesn’t look to be the case.  Of course another thing about Canada is that even though they are not completely separate from England they still have a great love for the mother country.

I will finish here with a final picture. Of course, it is a mandatory one of an RCMP. What trip to Canada would be complete with a picture of an RCMP on his (in this case her) trusty steed. Tomorrow we will be going to the national gallery, the mint, and to the By ward market. More on that later.

Oh, by the way, we did have a very good and properly seasoned dinner tonight, so maybe I will have to rescind the previous post 🙂

Day 6

We spent a good bit of today at the National Art Museum here in Canada’s capital Ottawa.  In some ways the building was more impressive than the art it contained. I would say about one-third of the exhibits were for modern art which is really not so much my taste.  I picked out my favorite one in that area and I called it “Big Black”.  It was about a 12-foot square mural of solid black; nothing else!  They seem to have pictures just like that in about every modern art exhibit I have been to.

But they did have a pretty fair amount of wall space dedicated to photography and that was nice. My collection of 20,000 and growing daily now of photos contains some that deserve to be on those walls too.  

Reflection of old on new is quite unique to Ottawa

One of the neat things I haven’t mentioned yet is the combination of old buildings and modern glass buildings found throughout the city. They are pretty much interspersed, so it is neat to take pictures of the old ones being reflected off the newer ones. Kind of artsy stuff. We have many such pictures now that I will eventually share on this blog in the future.

After leaving the museum we stopped by the Notre Dame Cathedral and then  took a long leisurely lunch to rest our legs before strolling over to the Byward market. This is a very large outdoor/indoor market of vegetables, flowers and crafts. We picked up some berries for snacking; I am eating some of them now.  This market reminded me of  the one I have been to several times in Guadalajara Mexico. We happened upon the U.S. Embassy while we were in the area; that reminded me that we are in a foreign country even if it doesn’t seem like it at times.

Instead of hiking back to the hotel like we have for the last two days we got lazy and took a taxi back. Tomorrow we will go to the national experimental farm and then begin heading for the next adventure and that will be Montreal.  We were talking with the waiter in the restaurant last night about trying to decide whether to go to Montreal or Quebec, we decided we only want to do one more big city before heading north-east for the coast.  The waiter said without hesitation that we should see Montreal. He gives us several good tips on what to see there.

To our new Canadian friends

On our last night in what is now one of my favorite cities we came across this group of young people celebrating a birthday. Oh, to be young again.


We will likely spend at least one day in the hinterland between here and Montreal for a little R&R before starting walking tours again.  More on that later. I wanted to throw out at least one more picture here and that is of the big spider outside the national gallery that was about to eat my wife. I, being the superhero that I am, saved her just in time. 🙂

On-The-Road Reports

RJsTravels has been on the web for more than a dozen years now. It has had a number of names including InSearchOfAmerica. In that version, which ran from 2012 to 2019 I had several posts where I reported daily while I was on the road. Those posts were very popular but time-consuming.

This blog is inspired by John Steinbeck’s novel entitled Travels with Charley – In search of America. That was one of Steinbeck’s last novels that was written a year or so after he had a custom truck cap fabricated to take him on a multi-month trip around America. I feel in love with the book as an early teenager and daydreamed that one day I would do the same. It took me over half a century but I too have made a custom micro-RV (µRV) and have been traveling America for the last five years although only on brief trips.

With this post I will be doing more on-the-road style reports in the future and since RJsTravels is meant to be a travel guide I will be updating older posts to put some of them in the on-the-road format.

Thanks for browsing RJsTravels, and if you have time drop a comment to let me know how I am doing.