Having just been reminded about how important it's going to be to camp in Canada when the present crisis is over, I thought I'd roll back to our trip to Boston and Plymouth where, once done with the US, we motored north and spent a couple of days in Quebec City. Canada is truly a unique and beautiful country, and Quebec City is typical of the diversity the country has to offer.
Our run up through the US towards Canada took in New Hampshire and Vermont, through the White Mountains, then into the flat and rich farmland of the Francophone Canadian Province of Quebec. If you don't have any French at all, I can understand that crossing from one of the US States that border Quebec could seem quite alien, even daunting. Quebec is generally not bilingual; the people speak French and, quite rightly, don't feel the need to slip into speaking English in their own backyard. So, if you ever visit Quebec, brush up on that High School French because you're going to need it, especially if you need to read any of the signs, or order a meal in a restaurant.
Of course, Quebecers will help you out when they can as most will have better English than you have French, but it's important to at least try to speak to the locals in their own language. My French isn't great, but I'm happy to have a go, and it's much appreciated when you're trying to interact. I make these comments because I've read of a few natives of the US being initially surprised that Quebecers don't want to speak English (why would they?) and then critical of them because of it. To any of my English speaking friends I'd say visit Quebec, it's a great place, and rather than demand English, join in with speaking another language; if nothing else, everyone will have a laugh.
Anyway, onto the trip. We stayed at the KOA campground south of Quebec City. It's a little way out, but that's the way KOA operates. This campground was a little odd, though. It seemed to be wedged into a narrow strip of land on an industrial park, hemmed in on all sides by big warehouses. It was also really busy, with every tightly packed site occupied when we arrived. That's not to say that it wasn't a nice campground, though. The people in the office could not have been more helpful, and their little store was probably the best stocked I've ever seen, including much beer and wine. As a European, I really appreciate Quebec's European attitude to the sale of alcohol and how nice it was to see a campground treating its customers as adults.
As the photos show, the sites were not huge, and the space at the campground was, shall we say, efficiently utilised. However, we didn't spend a great deal of time there as the attractions of Quebec City and environs ensured we were early to head out in the mornings and late to arrive back. When we went to explore the city, we took the bus from the main gate of the campground. My memory fails me, but I want to say that it was free - maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, that meant a full day on foot in the city, exploring the sights and not having to worry about driving or parking. My schoolboy French was well employed in the fabulous restaurants in the Old Town, and we had a great day there.
Our second day there we went out in the car, up along the St Lawrence, to Île d'Orléans, pretty much the birthplace of European settlement in Canada. Even though it was August, the weather was cold and overcast, and it didn't seem that there was much open on the island, not even a Friterie. Still, we drove right around the island, savoured the old French strip farming system and the European style buildings, which was our reason for visiting in the first place. We stopped at a lookout tower at the northern end of the island and enjoyed the somewhat weather-limited views of Cap Tormente National Wildlife Area, and the ever widening St Lawrence River.
When we left Quebec, we were heading back into Ontario, but did make a stop at Gananoque for a few days; more great Canadian camping.
Thinking back to that trip, and forward to what the coming years have in store, it really does look like staying in Canada is going to be absolutely the right thing to do.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
The Old Blog