On The Road Canada: Day 8 – 9 – Thoughts, Montreal, Quebec, Sunday Morning


A unique site at the Canada Agriculture Museum.

I guess I must tell you up front that this trip was taken in 2011. That was a time in the infancy of GPS map apps so that explains all the problems when we used Google Maps for guidance. Things have changed drastically since those early years.


Day 8 – Canada Agricultural Museum & On The Road To Montreal

Here I am sitting in our hotel room on a Sunday morning blogging again. Somewhere along my long life path I became a morning person; I do my best thinking then. It would be nice to read a paper, I mean the actual paper kind, that just seems to be more soothing for Sundays but since I could only discover the French version that isn’t happening. I’m looking out the window at a twelve lane road that goes Montreal, and it is hard to believe that it really is Sunday morning. Wait a minute I had better check on the date; yeah it is Sunday 😉

But first some morning thoughts about the only French Province in the western hemisphere. But, first I think we need a little geography lesson. As shown on the map above Ottawa is on the very tiny sliver of the Ontario Province. Up to now we have been almost a week in Ontario and things will change pretty drastically when we move just a few miles north this morning.

For one thing the French insist on French language signs everywhere in Canada but go into their Province and you will find few English signs there. They are kinda like the Republicans in the US. They want everything their way but don’t expect anything in return. Maybe I shouldn’t get political with my on-the-road reports, but the thought just hit me and I had to put it down.

Anyway I had better get moving now and get the beard shaved and shower taken so we can hit the road.  Oh just one more difference we have discovered in Canada, they don’t offer free breakfasts here or anything else free for that matter.


Yesterday decided to go into Montreal today and do a dash-in, dash-out approach.  But before we do that we want to see the Canada Agricultural Museum. We don’t want to spend our entire vacations in the big cities. The purpose of this trip was to travel along the St. Lawrence seaway and visit Nova Scotia; that is country stuff not city stuff.

They had the mandatory cows, pigs and chicken on display but what made the time so special was the creativity and uniqueness of the place. The first thing to greet us was a windmill like no other I have ever seen. Being an old farm boy I can’t say that the museum was very educational, but it was a nice place to visit and unwind from our more hectic experiences of the last few days.

Here is a small photo collection:


Jumping across into the Quebec Province

After leaving the museum I anticipated that since it was Sunday our quick trip through Montreal would be a leisurely one. I was so WRONG!!   We did get to the two Montreal sites on our agenda today, but it took almost four hours, instead of the expected two hours driving to accomplish that!  At first, I decided to try to navigate using  just the atlas. I found Mont Royal on the map and after a few misdirected turns and about 45 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic we were at that location. The trouble was that it was not “Parc du” Mont Royal. So, after admitting I couldn’t get us there (it takes a lot of gumption for us guys to admit to something like that) we turned the task over to Google Maps.  It ends up we only missed our destination by about eight miles.

We were then directed by Google maps through several streets and told to turn left which would have been the wrong way on a one-way street several times. After re-routing and taking about a half hour to go the required 8 miles we finally arrived. The view of the city was everything we thought it would be. There is a picture of it here. It was about a half mile walk from the parking lot to the site on this sunny 90 degree day. Yeah, I guess it gets up to 90 degrees F in Canada too.

After the Parc du Mont Royal we decided to try to see the Olympic complex here.  That was the one for the 1976 Olympics, I think.  My manhood was too fragile to take another serious hit, so we let OnStar take us there. As usual there were several misdirected turns and about an hour of driving, but we did get there. We turned into the visitor parking area and were told the parking would be $13. That seemed pretty high but since we had suffered all the near collisions with the crazy french drivers we paid the price.  As usual there were no elevators there for us senior citizens, so it was up a few steep stairs and finally to the big pylon that hung over the complex. It was pretty neat, but it does show its 40 years of age.  We planned to go up to the top but for that, they charged another $20 apiece, so we skipped that.  We did get into the sports area without paying any extra. It was smaller than it looked on the outside.

Anyway after four hours of fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic we decided we had seen enough of Montreal and headed north. We are now in Trois -Rivieres just south of Quebec. If we can get some of our unsettled nerves calmed down we will try a short hop in to Quebec tomorrow and then it is on to the St. Lawrence seaway up to Nova Scotia.  I don’t anticipate that there will be much of a traffic problem  up there but since I was so wrong about Montreal who knows.

Day 9 – Quebec – Parlez vous français?

Here it is at the end of day nine, and we are now fully immersed into the providence of Quebec.  It seems that everywhere we went in Ontario there was always an English sign followed by one in French.  Now that we are in Quebec the English signs have all but disappeared?  When we checked into the hotel for the night close to Montreal we did have English-speaking front desk person. That was a relief since we spent almost 4 hours going the 100 or so miles we drove today. Half of that time was trying to find a hotel for the night. 🙂

There are immediately several different things we have come across in the French speaking area. One is that the highway interchanges are much farther apart than we have yet encountered. If you want to get off at a major road you must plan well ahead or end up back tracking several miles as you accidentally pass it by.  The other obvious difference is that Google Maps, which I use through my smartphone, is just not very accurate in this area.  I found a Holiday Inn near Quebec City on the phone at the next interchange. When we got off, we followed the directions given on the active map and ended up by a concrete making establishment. No hotel in sight.

When we did finally get to where we are now staying we got off the highway and saw the hotel but couldn’t find a way to get there. Every road we tried ended up going someplace else! After four attempts we finally found the correct path and got checked in.  Now on to the final obvious difference for today. When we got to the room it was fairly well equipped suite with a TV in two rooms. But both of the TVs had the closed captioning buttons diverted to go to the hotel information. The people there seemed oblivious to know what closed captioning was or what it was for.  Since it was supposed to be a day for us to relax today we didn’t feel like doing that battle so I will settle down tonight with cruising the internet, blogging, and reading my Kindle books.  It is probably better that way anyway.

With all the experiences of today we are thinking of just skipping Quebec City entirely and heading for the St. Lawrence seaway instead. Needless to say I am not too impressed with the only French speaking area of North America. But maybe that will change. I’ll let you know how that turns out tomorrow.


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 Canada: Day 1-3: Sudbury, Would You Like Gravy With That?



But First, A Little Introduction

This is the first of many on-the-road reports to come to RJsTravels about my visit to all 50 States, Mexico and Canada with camera in hand and history in mind. I believe that these personal stories are more interesting than just giving you the same facts and figures that most travelogues provide. My version of travelogue tells you in a “John Steinbeck – Travels With Charlie” account of our adventures. I hope you find these stories interesting. I hope you find them enjoyable.


Day 1 -2 Travel

Day 1 – Upper Michigan To Sault St Marie

(photo from the tourist bureau website)

Since we started out near Green Bay Wisconsin and most our first day was spent in the wilds of the upper peninsula (UP) of Michigan. The UP is about the least populated area of the country except for maybe Alaska. After leaving the Lake Michigan coastline there is very little there except for forests. It was a six-hour drive to Ste St. Marie where we stopped for the night. I have been to this beautiful city on several occasions and as usual we enjoyed a peaceful stroll down the riverfront boardwalk and a nice meal afterwards. Looking back, I wished we had spent another day touring the city, but we were just too anxious to officially get into Canada across the St. Mary’s River.

Day 2 – Sudbury, Ontario – Would you like gravy with that?

Since we were only planning a four-hour drive this day we spent the morning at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre learning about one of the major means of transportation in northern Canada and then hit the road.

One of the first things you almost immediately about Canada is that there are almost no franchises here. So, at the end of this day’s drive what should have been a routine thing turned out to be quite an adventure. We stopped at a small motel just short of Sudbury and asked to see one of the rooms. What we found could have been directly dropped from the 1920s. It had a very hard bed, velvet bedspread and one-hundred year-old very used furniture and lots of wallpaper on the walls. It even had that old hotel smell, you know what I mean. It is mainly found in motels that have been used way beyond their useful life. We were tempted to stay there but just didn’t think we would get much sleep on the rock they call a bed. We politely said that we decided to drive some more before stopping.

We did eventually find a place closer to Sudbury that was clean and cheap but with no Internet connection and had a TV out of the 1950s with only one usable channel. 🥴 The bed was well worn but without any protruding springs, so it proved a restful night after two days on the road.

French Fries with Gravy??

After we got settled in the room we went out for dinner to a place called Hardrock 42 Gastropub. No, it is not one of those Hardrock places with the loud blaring music as found in the US . It ends up that Hardrock is what they called the miners in the area years ago. I guess this place was kind of like where they used to eat. It was similar to a New Jersey diner in that they had a lot on the menu including what I chose which was a pulled pork sandwich with Jack Daniel’s sauce and french fries. So, here I am in Canada having sauce made from Tennessee whiskey I hardly knew I was out of the U.S.

The waitress who took our orders  was a very nice young girl. After I told her what I wanted she asked me if I wanted gravy with that? I wondered why they would put gravy on a pork sandwich with sauce already on it. She saw my confusion and said the gravy was for the french fries. I decided to go with the flow and try it. After I said yes, she commented that you guys must be from the U.S.? She just didn’t understand why we didn’t put gravy on our french fries in our country. After trying it I can say that gravy on french fries is really pretty good; maybe I will ask for it at McDonald’s when I get home.🥴

Tomorrow we keep going on toward Ottawa which is the capital of Canada. We will spend at least a couple of days there before heading towards the St. Lawrence River.

Day 3 – Travel

Day 3 – Sudbury To Ottawa

We made the last trek through the seemingly endless pine trees this morning and afternoon and finally got into the city of Ottawa. Since the first two days of this trip were travel days I considered this day 3 the official start of our adventure. I, like a giddy school kid can’t wait.

Upon entering the city my first impression of Ottawa is that there is a lot of traffic for 9:30 on a Wednesday morning.  After that soaked in I started noticing quite a few older building in the downtown area. Since this is the capital of Canada I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. We found a nice hotel in the downtown area and pretty much vegged out there for the rest of the day, even eating in the hotel dining room.😎 Tomorrow we will be visiting all the capital sites, and then who knows where…