Quebec: A Distinct Society It Is

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September 13th 2021
Published: September 16th 2021
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With the pandemic into its fourth wave, I decided to stay in Canada for my remote work stint this quarter. I had planned a trip to Quebec City last fall, but it was cancelled as the province went into a lockdown before my arrival. While I had been to Quebec before, those visits were around Montreal. I knew Quebec City had a beautiful old-walled city and culturally more representative of Quebec, so why not make it my stop this quarter.

With less than a million people, Quebec City is very walkable. We were set up for a month in the Saint Roch neighbourhood, situated well for walking. What I didn’t truly appreciate, though, was the topography of the city. Parts of the city, particularly those closer to the St. Lawrence River, are high up on the cliffs. Fortunately, Saint Roch was flat and close to the Saint-Charles River. This location was ideal given I was typically out on my bike every day and the Saint-Charles River had a beautiful and safe bike trail next to it. Upon arrival, I gasped at the thought of cycling up those steep hills if we had stayed near the Rue Saint-Joseph or

With so much great food produced around the St. Lawrence River, many farms have their own small store on site to sell their produce. This part of Quebec is well known for their berries.
Avenue Cartier neighbourhoods. As I plan new trips, I must remember that water (rivers and lakes) will typically have good bike trails next to them.

One of the striking features of Quebec is its food. Quebecers have a passion for their food, which this foodie welcomed. I knew this was also the cheese capital of Canada, but I didn’t appreciate things like charcuterie, ice cream, pate, foie gras, and berries were also very good here. Our Breakfasts were typically made up of those items along with some fresh bread from the local bakery. In my opinion, the temple of Quebec City’s food culture is the Grand Marche. This market is like nothing I have seen before. It was in a beautiful building, which I am still trying to figure if it was new or refurbished. While the produce wasn’t at the same level as I see here in Edmonton, everything else was a grade or two above. The added benefit was that this market wasn’t too far from our Airbnb and part of my daily cycle route around the Saint Charles River.

Quebec continues to push the rest of Canada to recognize its distinct
First MorningFirst MorningFirst Morning

I was so impressed with the bike trail network in Quebec. World class.
culture. I must say they have a distinct culture and one that should be preserved both for Quebec and Canada. It can seem intimidating for a province with 8.5 million people compared to the rest of North America, with a population close to 400 million. With that said, I was impressed by how many people had a basic understanding of English. It was nearly universal. For those cases where it wasn’t, Google Translate came to the rescue.

Before I move on to the bike tour, I did find it entertaining to see all the people on their mobility scooters in the city. It certainly doesn’t have the stigma like it would at home. I would see them all over town and commonly in small groups, either on the move or stopped in a social setting like a park. A number of the scooters were colourfully decorated, and it wouldn’t be unusual to hear music blaring from them. You can tell the age of the individual by the decade of their music. 😉

After a month in Quebec City, it was time to get on the road for my two-week bike tour. A few friends
Canadian ShieldCanadian ShieldCanadian Shield

As this part of Quebec is covered by the Canadian Shield, it offers some different views for a boy from the Prairies.
had encouraged me to head towards the Saguenay area. There is a famous trail called the Blueberry Trail that goes around Lac-Saint-Jean. It is well laid out and an absolute pleasure to ride. It was predominately flat with a mixture of bike trails and roads. It is a popular route, so I saw several touring cyclists throughout my ride. I did find out quickly that the culinary heaven I left in Quebec City was gone in this area. Lunches were predominately at “greasy spoon” establishments rather than anything I experienced in Quebec City. It was also frustrating travelling on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Most restaurants were closed. I had to eat out of grocery stores for a couple of dinners… 😔

After the lake came the fjord. I didn’t even know we had fjords in Canada… 😳 It is a popular tourist destination as cruise ships make their way up during the season. There haven’t been any tourist boats in the past two years, though. La Baie, in particular, was hurting. It had recently built a new dock and arrivals hall for those boats. A number of the shops and restaurants were also closed because of the
Road SignageRoad SignageRoad Signage

Trail networks were well laid out for cyclists and motorists.
lack of business. The goal with the fjord was to cycle half of it and take a boat for the other half as no boat ride does the complete length of the fjord. The middle point appeared to L’Anse Saint-Jean. I ended up cycling the first part, which was quite hilly, but a short ride. L’Anse Saint-Jean was a lovely and tourist destination for those from Quebec City. I had quite the eventful day leaving this area, as I had a boat ride and two ferry rides to coordinate during a partial strike by ferry workers! 😳 The first boat ride was enjoyable because I was the only passenger with three crew members… It was offseason now. Interestingly, whales make their way up the fjord as well. I did see a pod of beluga whales at the mouth of the fjord.

I had 200 km down the south side of the St. Lawrence River for the final stretch, which was the best part of the bike tour. I pretty well hugged the shoreline with a secondary highway, which was light on traffic. Most of the towns along this ride go back to the 17th century. Many of
Agritourism Agritourism Agritourism

Here is a word I wasn’t familiar with before this trip. What could be more fascinating than travelling for food? 😉
them were pretty quaint and touristy, drawing the weekend crowd again from Quebec City. The restaurants also looked more like what I found in Quebec City than around Lac-Saint-Jean. All in all, I put in 655 km this tour, which is lighter than I typically do, but I enjoyed the slower pace and a pace I will likely embrace going forward on future bike tours.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


Saguenay FjordSaguenay Fjord
Saguenay Fjord

My first fjord…
Signage BewareSignage Beware
Signage Beware

Perhaps Evil Knieval used to practice here? 😉
Water MillWater Mill
Water Mill

Given the topography of the area, waterways are commonly used for mills and dams.

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