Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Travel Update - Charlottetown and Saguenay, Quebec

Dearest Family and Friends,

Today we are in Québec City, Québec, Canada on the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Québec, named from an Algonquin Indian word, Kébec, that means “narrows” or more literally translated, “where the river narrows”.  It was one of the biggest surprises of our entire voyage, but more about that tomorrow.

We sailed from Sydney to Charlottetown, the provincial capital of Prince Edward Island, Canada.  It was the first town settled in the PEI in 1720 and was French before it passed to the British in 1758.  Charlottetown was the site of the 1864 Convention where the founding fathers met to negotiate the ultimate combining of all territories into the nation we now know, collectively, as Canada.  We were charmed by this intimate and lovely city with its Victorian buildings, hundreds of hanging flower pots lining the streets, colorful heritage homes and beautifully manicured lawns ending in extremely clean streets.

We took a tour out to a river which is the home to hundreds of oyster beds and met with a family who owns an oyster lease, a section of water about 200 yards by 100 yards along the banks of a river with a combination of salt and fresh water.  The river actually had an eight foot tide because of its closeness to the ocean.

The couple had been “oyster fishing” for 13 years and they were really cute as they opened up their home and taught us all about how oyster harvesting works.  There are strictly-enforced rules and regulations involved with this harvesting and it is truly a hand operation that requires 8-10 hours a day hard work.  One man (or woman) works a boat and only one boat is allowed on a given lease.  They haul up about a dozen oysters with each “raking” of the bed, but may only keep 2-4 that are over 3” long and are graded either “standard” or “choice”, depending on its size, shape and age.  The rest are tossed back for more time to develop.  Oysters covered with one or more baby oysters are spared so the younger oysters may grow. 

Did you know that oysters are either male or female but they can change gender?  Don’t ask me how or why, but they must have had their roots in San Francisco.  Did you know that oysters can survive out of water and stay fresh that entire time for up to ten weeks?  Did you know that oysters develop rings, much like a tree, and that is how you can roughly tell their age?  Is that like wrinkles on a human?

After learning everything about oysters you ever wanted to know, we ate them.  Lots of them.  Very, very tasty….a lovely combination of salty and sweet.  And clams, the sweetest I have ever had, cooked on a BBQ grill until their shells opened.  Delicious!  Prince Edward Island is a beautiful spot and it was the best tour we had been on since we sailed.


We then sailed up out of the Atlantic and entered the gigantic mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We spent a day at sea in transit to our next port, Saguenay.

Now, Saguenay did not even exist officially until 2002 by amalgamating four cities and two municipalities.  It encompasses the entire Saguenay River region, an oasis in the vast remote wilderness of Northern Québec which was carved out of the land by a huge glacier nearly 20,000 years ago.  It is not hugely populated and, in fact, there are no human settlements due north of Saguenay all the way to the Canadian Arctic Island.  The joke is the only difference between the United States and Canada is that nobody lives in Canada.

That being said, we have been looking for the turning leaves of fall for the past eight days in every port from Newport, RI to Prince Edwards Island and we have never seen so much green in our lives.  That yearning was satisfied when we visited the Fjord du Saguenay Nationale Parc on the banks of the Saguenay River.  We took the most enjoyable two mile “stroll” through the woods with a learned guide who gave us more information about the flora and fauna then we could ever absorb BUT the scenery was absolutely gorgeous.  I will let the photos below speak for themselves.  Enjoy.

We are off in Montreal tomorrow, before the crack, taking a city tour and staying overnight for a 7:30 AM flight back to Texas.  I will report on Québec and Montreal after we return.  Hope you have enjoyed these Travel Updates.

God Bless you all,

Jud and Vicki  


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