Revisiting Quebec in the fall.

In October 2015 I spent almost a month in Quebec, CA. I blogged about that trip here, but I’m now sharing my photos on my travel blog, ‘Where The Wind Has Taken Me‘.

If you missed it then, this is a great opportunity to follow my trip on that blog!
Or, you’re welcome to skip back to posts from September and October of 2015, and read it all here. I’m working to ensure that it’s not the same post, rehashed and served up again for breakfast, so hopefully it’s just as enjoyable the second time round!

 

I’d seen maple trees and other autumn colours in Australia – dotted here and there, or lining a street. I had seen photos of parks and forests full of colour. I knew they were beautiful. I saw the leaves starting to change colour in Nova Scotia just a week before I arrived in Quebec. But nothing […]

via Quebec’s Eastern Townships in Autumn. Part 1. — WHERE THE WIND HAS TAKEN ME

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The Philipsburg Pier. 

The Philipsburg Pier originated as a wooden jetty in the 1780s which enabled trade with the USA via Lake Champlain ports. 

The most common good exported via the Philipsburg pier were racehorses, marble, carriages, logs and milled timber. 

When the Champlain Canal opened in 1823, linking Lake Champlain to the Hudson River, trade with New York and the greater New England area of the US opened up. The jetty was upgraded and enlarged by 1836 so that supply, particularly of milled timber, could meet the demand. 

Despite competition from rail transport later in the 1800s, Lake Champlain trade continued unabated. By 1872, Philipsburg had a population of 271 and a very lucrative trade turnover of $20000 per annum. 

The pier was upgraded again in 1895, and was only downgraded due to lack of commercial demand in 1937. 

  
Today, the pier is used for recreation, largely fishing and pleasure boating. It’s also a really lovely place to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

  
   

Philipsburg.

The village of Philipsburg was established in 1784 by Empire Loyalists who moved to Canada from New York after the USA won her independence from the British. 

Two earlier attempts by the French to settle the area had been unsuccessful. The region was named St Armand by the French in 1748.

The Iroquois had villages here in the northernmost part of their territory, and they lived a settled and peaceful way of life. Across the lake were the Algonquians and some Abenakis, living in the southernmost reaches of their lands. 

  
The village was named after Philip Ruiter, a pioneer in the area.

The Canadian authorities were not keen to see settlement here because they felt it was too close to the American border. It’s easy to see why the settlers chose this place, though. 

  
Located on the shore of Lake Champlain among woods on rolling hills and rich earth for farming, Philipsburg offered plenty of opportunities for farming, hunting, fishing, and enjoying a pretty view of the lake from one’s front porch. 

  

Today, Philipsburg is still a pretty lakeshore village with those same opportunities, within easy reach of the Eastern Townships and the cities of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Montreal, as well as convenient access to the US state of Vermont via the border crossing at the Highgate Centre. 

I’ve had the privilege of calling Philipsburg home for only a short time, but I will always love this place. My mornings spent by the lake have been precious times of reflection and serenity, and part of my heart will always remain here. 

Accidentally shot…

A stone marker commemorating Margaret Vincent’s death is hidden on a back country road at Eccles Hill, near Frelighsburg, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. 

   

It reads “Margaret Vincent Accidentally shot by the Royal Fusiliers June 10, 1866.”

This dates to the time of the Fenian raids into Canada over the American border, which occurred throughout the 1860s. 

The Fenians were Irishmen who hated England and resented British domination over the Irish and their negligence during the Irish potato famine in the 1840s. Groups such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Fenian Brotherhood were formed in the 1850s, and it was these groups who surged over the border into Canada into areas such as Frelighsburg and St Armand. 

On June 7, 1866, hundreds of Fenian men crossed into Canada.

The only Canadian forces in the St Armand area were three companies of infantry, comprised largely of non-commissioned men and volunteers, under the command of Captain W Carter of HM 16th Regiment.

The alarm was raised: “The Fenians are coming!” Fearful farmers near the border tore up roads and railway lines, and abandoned homes and farms. 

Carter panicked and ordered his troops to withdraw. His troops never did forgive him for what they perceived as an act of impulsive cowardice. 

The Fenians held Pigeon Hill, Frelighsburg and St Armand. 

Mistaken for a Fenian, Margaret was a 71 year old deaf-mute who was shot when she failed to respond to an officer’s order.  Given her disability,  it’s no wonder she didn’t follow the Fusiliers’ orders.  Even so, she probably didn’t look much like an angry, armed man with authority issues. 

The marker is really quite diplomatically phrased, given that Margaret was hardly a threat to anyone. She was shot in error, but not accidentally. 

 
Margaret Vincent’s grave is located up the hilly road at Pigeon Hill Cemetery.  The marker at Eccles Hill is maintained by the local community in honour of the elderly woman who died there so long ago.

Fall.

Today the leaves are positively dive-bombing off the trees. 

  
The sun is shining again and the sky is azure blue, but yesterday’s snow has caused the autumn leaves to give up hope and cast themselves to the ground. 

  
Roads, garden beds and grass are carpeted with those who have already fallen, while other more hopeful souls still cling desperately to their tree. 

  
It’s easy now to understand why North Americans call this season Fall as well as Autumn. 

Even on a still, sunny morning, leaves dive and drift, collecting in rather tragic piles beneath the increasingly bare trees that only a week ago were vibrant with colour. 

In Australia, I never really had the perception of so many leaves falling and fluttering, or languishing in the breeze. Most of our trees stay green, and the occasional ornamental maple or elm shedding its leaves in a garden or the main street of a country town doesn’t really have the same impact, as beautiful as it may be. 

This sad abandonment of Autumn splendour has a beauty all its own. I’m very privileged to be able to sit here in the sunshine and witness it. 

Pulling cheese.

Okay. This is a new one on me. I’ve just had my first string cheese experience.

  

Apart from the very “American cheese” colour, it looks just like the Kraft cheese sticks that we have in Australia, but it’s a lot more fun because you can pull strings of cheese off and torture your cheese as you eat it.

  

 You can even have competitions to see who can pull the thinnest string.

Food and entertainment in one hit.
Aces.

Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

Occasionally, I like to throw caution to the wind and do something dangerous. Intrepid and adventurous, that’s me. Completely aware of the perils ahead, I put my sassy pants on and set out for an adventure that has long been on the bucket list for this holiday. 

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company makes hand-crafted, fully customisable teddy bears that are unbearably adorable.

   
 
The bears all carry the trademark labels and eyes which distinguish them from other bears. The eyes have “Born in Vermont” imprinted in the iris. Too cute. Being from Vermont, the Bears all have a chubby tummy that is known at the company as “the belly that Ben & Jerry’s built”. 

   
   
There are hundreds of different outfits that can be purchased for the 15″ bears, reflecting seasons, occupations, sports and significant life events. Most of the bears have brown eyes, but can be customised with blue, green or hazel eyes. Paws and outfits can be customised with embroidery. 

   
   
The factory tour is fun and entertaining for all ages. I was really pleased to see the tour being led by a delightful guy who has a disability but is obviously living joyfully despite it. 

The bears are very reasonably priced in comparison to other top-quality, hand-crafted collectible bears, such as the Charlie Bears which I also collect. 

All in all, I had a wonderful day here. I made the experience complete by adopting a 15″ Maple Bear with blue eyes. It’s fair to say that he had a pretty good day, too. 

Abbey of St-Benoît-du-Lac. 

The abbey of St-Benoît-du-Lac is nestled among the rolling hills of southern Quebec near the town of Magog.

  

The abbey was founded in 1912 by Dom Joseph Pothier, a Benedictine abbott who came to Quebec from the Abbey of St Wandrille at Frontenelle in France. 

The architect of the abbey was Father Paul Bellot, who oversaw the building of the Abbey between 1939-1941. 

  
The impressive looking building is home to about 50 monks who live according to the rules of St Benedict. The decorative brickwork and mosaic tile floors of the foyer and hallways contrast with the peaceful serenity of the church and the smaller private chapel.  

  

  
 
The church also boasts a magnificent pipe organ, situated between the congregation and the choir.  
 

Just outside the church is a stone from the ancient abbey of St Wandrille, in France, which dates back to the 14th century.  The stone has been carved into a maple leaf, symbolising the continuing heritage and bond between the two abbeys. 

This is a beautiful place to visit.  It was disappointing that some of the tourists who were visiting at the same time as me did not show respect for the quietness requested by the monks, nor for the reflection and prayer that was obviously being sought by other visitors. 

Thanksgiving.

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today. It’s nice to be here for it and to share in such a nice tradition.  

I’m looking forward to sharing a special meal with some friends who are very dear to me, although I confess to being slightly nervous about meeting some new people at the same time. 

Thanksgiving Day is clearly a Notth American thing, but I have been surprised at how many people here think the whole world does it. My hosts were quite shocked this morning when I told them we don’t have it in Australia.

Maybe we should. Giving thanks for our freedom and blessings cannot be a bad thing, and it might make some people less selfish and xenophobic.