I took a one-week trip to Quebec by train to visit some places. It was in early September in 2009. I changed trains in Montreal. The train to Quebec City from Montreal was peaceful and comfortable and I felt like I was in France. I made some sketches on the train to Quebec City.
I arrived in Quebec City. First, I went to buy a bus ticket to Tadoussac, which I was planning to visit later on the trip. Then I took a taxi to Île d’Orléans, which was my first place to spend time in Quebec. Île d’Orléans is a long oval-shaped island located just south of Quebec City.
The taxi went over a long bridge crossing a large river. When I turned back, I saw small waterfalls in the distance. It was a beautiful day.
I arrived at the B&B I had booked. The taxi driver said she would come to pick me up when I was leaving so I arranged with her for that day. This was the first time I had booked accommodation prior to a trip. I did so because it was a holiday season. But, it seemed to me that that was not necessary as there were many similar B&Bs or hotels around.
After that, I went to see the host. They were in the yard next to the B&B talking to some people. There were many roosters and they were saying cock-a-doodle-doo. It was a couple running the B&B.
I asked the husband if there was any transportation on the island. He said there wasn’t but he could drive me around. And he also mentioned a young couple staying at the B&B who were going somewhere on the island the next day. He suggested getting a ride with them in the morning. And then my host told me to call him when I want to come back and he would come to pick me up.
After that, I went out to look around the island. The B&B was at the end of the island so there was a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River that I could see from the street. And the sun was setting.
As I walked into the town, a couple who looked like they were in their late 40s were coming from the other way and said to me ” Bonjour” as we were passing. When I walked a little, I found a nice art store. I went inside. It was run by a couple and the woman was an artist. This relatively small space was filled with many artworks and crafts. I talked with them for a while. There was a private garden behind the store. I asked them if I could walk in their garden. They said I could. It was a large beautiful garden facing the St. Lawrence River.
After coming out of the art store, I didn’t have a clear sense of which way I had come from. I was not sure which street to take to go back to my B&B. It was getting darker. I was getting lost.
The streets got much darker and there were no street lights. I kept walking to find the right direction for my B&B. After a while, I reached a small street which seemed like a residential area. There were many houses nicely lit inside. I knocked on the door of one of these houses and asked for directions.
The person I asked told me that there was only one traffic light on the island, which was located at the intersection with the road from Quebec City. I was surprised. Following the direction I was told, I came close to that large bridge to Quebec City. And I bought some things to eat at a grocery store.
After that, I decided to walk to a little further east from the grocery store to see what there was, which was the opposite direction from the way back to my B&B. All I saw was another store that sold fresh fruits and vegetables. And they seemed to have just closed. It was dark and there were still no street lights.
Then, I was lost again and was not sure which way was east and which was west. I walked the road back and forth for a little while. And I finally figured out which way I needed to go in. It was the road that the taxi driver had taken when I was heading for my B&B.
It was very confusing on this island at night because there weren’t any signs or particular buildings that I could remember. It was really dark. No one was walking on the street. Just a few cars passed by. It was 10:30 when I arrived at my B&B. Everybody staying there was asleep.
A Long Hike on Île d’Orléans
The next day, the young couple gave me a ride to the halfway point on the island so I could start walking around from there. They were from a small town in Quebec and very nice people. My B&B was at the west end of the island. I walked towards the west from where I got off. I walked through a quiet residential area. I made some sketches there and by the St. Lawrence River. The sun was shining beautifully and reflecting off the river.
In the meantime, I walked into some art galleries and craft shops. I talked to staff members in the gallery and they showed me around the gallery. When I told them I was an artist, they gave me their card to contact them.
Also, there were many street stands that were selling fresh vegetables and fruit. I wished I could buy them and bring them to Toronto, but I had more cities to go to so I couldn’t. It was a mainly residential area on the east side of the island.
Making Sketches of Beautiful Vineyards
I continued walking and I came across a hilly road that was surrounded by large farmlands. On the one side were extensive vineyards. I saw people with straw hats crawling on the ground in the vineyards. It looked like they were weeding. I noticed there was a person staring at me from the field but I realized that it was a scarecrow. I decided to make sketches of the vineyards.
The dazzling summer-like sun was reflecting onto the leaves in the vineyards. I spent a long time sketching them under the glorious sun. After I made the sketches, I continued walking the hilly roads and I made more sketches occasionally. I was also able to see a nice view of the St. Lawrence River from the road.
I was getting tired and thought of calling my host to pick me up. But, as I was enjoying the hike very much, I felt tempted to walk all the way to the end and to see what there was. So I kept walking.
There was a small shop that sold local produce at a small intersection. After I passed it, there was more farmland. There was a large field with gorgeously blooming scarlet flowers on a slope. I made sketches of those farms with red flowers. It was late afternoon. The warm orange sunlight was gleaming onto the farmland while I was sketching.
My feet were hurting a little, but when I saw the streets that I recognized near my B&B, I felt the satisfaction of completing my long sketching hike. It was a beautiful glorious summer day.
A Visit to Tadoussac
The next day, I checked out from the B&B and I went back to Quebec City and got on a bus to Tadoussac. The bus driver spoke French. The bus stopped at the halfway point at a restaurant for a rest and then continued on. The bus was crowded and I got car sick.
After driving some more, the bus stopped. And it stayed for quite a while. I started wondering if we had arrived in Tadoussac. Some people were leaving the bus. I asked other passengers what we were doing there but they didn’t speak English.
Then, a woman who was sitting a few seats behind said in English that the bus was crossing a river by boat. I thought, “What !?” and I got off the bus to see what was happening outside.
What I saw was that the bus was on a large boat and it was crossing a very large river! I was excited and promptly made sketches of views from the boat. I arrived in Tadoussac. I learned later that taking a ferry was the only way to and from Tadoussac. The water the ferry was crossing was the confluence of the St. Lawrence River and the Saguenay River.
The next day, I walked along a wooded trail near the river. I made some sketches and, after that, I headed for Sand Dunes. Sand Dunes was the area with extensive sandhills and a beach. It was located at the end of the town. From all the walking on Île d’Orléans, my feet were hurting, but I did not use a bus. I walked.
On the way, I stopped at an area with sand dunes with some trees on them. And I made sketches. It took me a few hours to arrive at a sandy beach and dunes.
There were many people visiting Sand Dunes. I walked around the area. And I walked on a number of trails and looked at views of the St. Lawrence River and a beach from viewpoints. After that, I went down to the beach. I spent long hours making sketches in many spots.
On the way back from the beach, I decided to walk up a steep hill of sand that was behind the beach, instead of going back with the path I took to come down to the beach. But, this hill was a lot more difficult to walk up than it had looked like it would be because it was extremely steep. This turned out to be a very good exercise for my upcoming trips such as Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Getting a Ride
After I finished seeing Sand Dunes, I walked back on the same road to go back to my hotel. I was still making sketches of some flowers on the way.
Then, a car stopped and a man asked if I needed a ride to the town. He said he had seen me walking when he was driving by half an hour ago or so and as he was driving back, he saw me still walking on the same road. So he decided to ask me if I wanted a ride. My feet were hurting, so I took his offer and got into his car.
He said he was from Quebec City and he was staying at his friend’s house. He also asked me if I wanted to go to an art opening party in a hotel in Tadoussac, which was taking place that evening. I had seen posters of it on many street polls when I just arrived in Tadoussac.
He showed me around his friend’s house where he was staying. It was a large old house with many rooms and a view of the harbour. We sat and had dinner at a restaurant in the town. I went back to my hotel, had a shower and went to the hotel to attend the art opening.
Art Opening Party
The hotel where the party was was just a few minutes away from my hotel. It was a large beautiful hotel looking over the harbour. The party was taking place in the lobby in the hotel.
The man who gave me a ride introduced me to some of his artist friends and their family. They were many artworks on display including paintings and sculptures. After the official speech was made by the organizer of the event, the show started.
A pianist was playing nice music in a separate room. And the hotel staff members were offering drinks to visitors of the art event. There was a large restaurant near the lobby. It was dinner time and many people were having meals there. The waiters, waitresses and hotel members kept passing by in the hallway to the lobby, the restaurant and kitchen, back and forth.
Looking at the whole scene, I felt like I was in a chaotic French banquet. Later, I made sketches of the lobby with the exhibits combined with this hectic atmosphere and the people.
The weather turned out to be beautiful throughout my trip to Quebec. It was one of the most fabulous and memorable trips I had taken in my life.
Featured image: Painting of Vineyard by Chiho Yoshikawa, 2009