Quebec City - Part III | July 4
Friday July 4th
- It's Independence Day and many Americans are here to help celebrate Quebec City's Quadricentennial. One of the special events for the day is a New England Folk Fest in the tent right across the boardwalk from the schooner. It is very nice to hear such lovely music as an appropriate background to our conversations with visitors. A Vermont group - The Nightingales
- came aboard, just before we opened, for an impromptu concert. We had a few spells of rain in the afternoon, sending the crowds running for cover (into the music tent) just in time to hear the Nightingales sing. It seemed like the weather gods liked their music too.
A crowd gathers at the schooner's dock in Quebec City. Photo by Elisa Nelson.
On board the schooner some of us have a limited vocabulary in French, including me. Our visitors appreciate that we are providing French speaking interpreters and they also appreciate the fact that those that are not French speaking do try to communicate the little that they do know in French to overcome the language barrier.
Saturday July 5th.
It's another beautiful sunny day and we start with a delicious breakfast buffet graciously provided by the Société du 400e Anniversaire de Quebec
. Other guests included the Nightingales and many other representatives from Franco American organizations across New England. It was interesting to hear about other Americans and their contributions to the celebrations, including the two monuments given to Quebec City from Vermont and New England. Both monuments were crafted by Rock of Ages
in Barre, where many Quebecois settled to work in the quarries and stone sheds.
A crowd gathers at the sterndeck, listening to National Park Service representative and Lois McClure Crew Member Zach Ralph. Photo by Elisa Nelson.
The day proves to be another incredible day. We see a constant stream of visitors all day long, all of whom are very interested in our water-borne time machine. It is an amazing experience to see our visitors faces light up as we explain our vessel, the job that it did, and the people that worked and lived onboard. Even though we sometimes feel that we are directing people through the boat too quickly, it is gratifying to see that they do understand our story and "our shared heritage". We close at 9:30pm and find we have set another record, the third one this week! 2,567 visitors in one day!
Tonight I get the chance to sleep in a hotel room provided by the Société du 400e Anniversaire de Quebec. In order to get to the hotel, I need to walk through the streets of old Quebec toward the new town. I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, since I am the only person walking away from the waterfront and the innovative movie that is about to start. At the hotel I was surprised to be able to see Vermont and New York television channels in English. It was nice to catch up on the news at home and feel less like I am in a foreign country.
A view of the old city, Quebec. Photo by Elisa Nelson.
Sunday July 6th
- In the morning, some of the crew stops by the hotel room for a chance to get a shower. By 10 am it's off for a day of exploring the city on foot. Starting at the stairs nearby and climbing up to the top of the old wall, I explore the Parc de l'Artillerie
. This is a wonderful little museum showing the succession of living quarters for the various armies that controlled Quebec City over the centuries. One of the most interesting features is a detailed model of the City showing the walls, houses and churches of the region, created in 1806 and painstakingly conserved. Another interesting experience was interacting with two docents who were deaf. They explained that they were part of a special program and they did a wonderful job explaining the fancy dining room reserved for officers and very exclusive guests. The conversation started in sign language in French and was translated to spoken English. What a unique experience.
After the museum, it's off to the top of the hill, near the Chateau Frontenac
, and an exploration of the shops. An allée of artists selling their prints was a special treat as was the funicular that runs up and down the steep cliff. My day off finished with a very quick and interesting tour of the Musée de la Civilisation
At 5pm it's time to head back to the boat to help close down and pack up since this is our last day in Quebec City. We crunch the numbers and find that we had welcomed an amazing 13,175 visitors onboard the Lois McClure in 7 days, which averages 180 visitors per hour! Wow! It is a wonderful feeling to know that we connected with so many visitors. We know we made an impression because we saw some of our visitors return with more friends and often they conducted the tour since they remembered everything we had explained to them on their first visit.
At 10pm it's time for bed. We have a very early start in the morning to get through the basin lock and under the drawbridge to catch the rising tide for our trip upriver to Portneuf. As I close my eyes the music for "le Moulin à images" begins. I fall asleep with the images I have seen for the past week running though my head and I try to engrave each memory deep in my brain.
Special Thanks To: