andrew burke





Road Trip 2012: Quebec

Posted on: 2013-04-08

In May 2012, my mother-in-law gave us her old car - but we live in Halifax and the car was in Edmonton. So we flew there and drove it all the way back to Halifax. We had great weather and I had a new camera. This is part 14 of a series of blog posts about the trip.

(All of the photos are hosted on Flickr - click on any to see bigger versions and browse the full set.)

We left Montreal in the morning, after trying to find my parents' first Montreal apartment near the McGill campus.

We stopped in Québec City for lunch. It was a crowded Sunday, and so instead of daring the lovely but touristy old town, we wandered around the neighbourhood just outside the walls, which is quite nice as well. There is a lot of great Art-Deco and Beaux-Arts architecture, and even the Brutalism is scaled down and interesting-looking.

Outside The Walls

Human-Scaled Brutalism

After lunch at Le Commensal, we crossed back to the south side of the St. Laurence and continued eastward.

Quebec has some great place names. Some of this is due to Catholic settlers wanting to give each town its own distinct saint name and so having to dig quite deeply for obscure Greek and Byzantine martyrs with exotic names. Some of this is also because of the layering of 'official' French names on top of old English or even First Nations settlements, but often keeping both. Some of my favourites from along the road:

But I think this might be the best single sign with not one but three great Québec town names on it:

Great Québec Town Names

Rivière du Loup is of course one of the big stops for people driving to and from the Maritimes - but just reflect on how bad-ass it is to name a town "The River of the Wolf"? "St Elzéar de Témiscouata" is one of the great multi-barrelled town names - named for a notable medieval Franciscan ascetic and aristocrat and the Maliseet/Algonquian term for "Deep Water". But the unmistakable champion name here would have to be St. Louis du Ha! Ha! - there can't be too many other place names in the world with required exclamation points, can there?

We've passed this sign many times and even heard the name discussed on BBC podcasts - so, just like our day on the 401, we decided to turn off and investigate the town.

The name is the most interesting thing about the town - it only has about a thousand residents and it seems to be a regular pleasant small rural Québec town, with a large church and a small main street.

So what's up with that name? According to Wikipedia, it's named after a nearby ridge with a hidden cliff that resembles a Ha Ha - a landscaping technique that lets you section things off with a ditch without ruining the view (presumably for the exclamation you make when you come across it - or perhaps what the designer says when he first plans it out).

After St. Louis du Ha! Ha! we headed south-east into New Brunswick, and set up for the last night of our trip in a campsite at De La Republique Provincial Park, just north of Edmundston.

Campsite at De La Republique Park

We set up our tent and cooked up some instant just-add-water self-heating meals. The evening was beautiful and we went for a walk along the very calm peaceful river - a lovely way to spend our last night on this trip on which we had seen so many pretty sunsets.

Still River Sunset

Still River at Sunset

There aren't as many pictures from this day as from, say, Chicago, but here's a slideshow of some of them:

Previous: Road Trip 2012: Montreal
Next: Road Trip 2012: Aeropress Morning and a Smoky Home