Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Trois-Rivieres

Trois-Rivières is a city in the Mauricie administrative region of Quebec, Canada, located at the confluence of the Saint-Maurice and Saint Lawrence Rivers, on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River across from the city of Bécancour. It is part of the densely populated Quebec City–Windsor Corridor and is approximately halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.

The city's name, which is French for three rivers, is named for the fact that the Saint-Maurice River, which is divided by two small islands at the river's opening, has three mouths at the Saint Lawrence River. Traditionally, Trois-Rivières was referred to in English as Three Rivers, although in more recent decades it has been referred to as Trois-Rivières in both English and French.

The city was the second to be founded in New France (after Quebec City, before Montreal) and – thanks to its strategic location – played an important role in the colony and in the fur trade. The settlement became the seat of a regional government in 1665. Ursuline nuns first arrived at the settlement in 1697, establishing the first school and helping local missionaries to Christianize the local Aboriginals and Métis.

In 1908, the greater part of the city of Trois-Rivières was destroyed by a fire in which the majority of the city's original buildings, many dating back to French colonial years, were destroyed. Only a few were spared, including the Ursuline Monastery and the De Tonnancour Manor. As a result of the destruction, a major redesign and renovation of the city was undertaken, including the widening and renewal of many of the city's roads.

Notre-Dame-du-Cap Basilica
The structure was originally built as a church in 1720. The first pilgrimage to the Sanctuary was made on May 7, 1883. In 1964, the present basilica was inaugurated, and the sanctuary officially became a minor basilica.

Trois-Rivières hosts the FestiVoix de Trois-Rivières, a 10-day summer music festival which attracts in excess of 300,000 visitors annually. The city also hosts the Festival International de la Poésie – an international poetry festival – as well as the Festival International Danse Encore, and the MetalFest de Trois-Rivières every November. In 2009, Trois-Rivières was designated as the 2009 Cultural Capital of Canada for cities having a population of 125,000 or more.

Trois-Rivières is officially the "Poetry Capital of Quebec" and numerous plaques displaying poetic verses are installed throughout the centre of the city, and its International Festival of Poetry (held each year in the first week of October) honors this title.

Tourisme Trois-Rivières Municipal tourist office (English)

Trois-Rivieres is 115 km ( 1 hr. 16 min.) from Saint-Hyacinthe and 129 km ( 1 hr. 24 min.) from Quebec City.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Saint - Hyacinthe

Saint-Hyacinthe is a city in southwestern Quebec east of Montreal on the Yamaska River.

Convent St. Joseph

Most of my maternal grand-fathers line came from Saint-Hyacinthe. Many were baptized, married, and interred there belonging to Notre Dame du Rosaire church.

Notre Dame du Rosaire

1748 - Seigniory (St. Hyacinthe) Granted Sept. 23, 1748, to Sieur F. Rigaud, seigneur de Vaudreuil.

1772 - Église Saint-Matthieu established at Saint-Hyacinthe.

1831 - In 1831, the village of Saint-Hyacinthe had a population of around a thousand people. It contained an important seminary where the sons of some Patriote leaders, including Papineau, studied.

1848 - December 26 - Rail - First train runs between Longueuil and St-Hyacinthe, Québec.

1853 - Cathédrale Saint-Hyacinthe-le-Confesseur established at Saint-Hyacinthe.

1854 - Destructive Fire in Lower Canada Montreal, Wednesday, May 17.
The village of St. Hyacinthe was almost wholly destroyed by fire to-day.


1876  St. Hyacinthe, Sept. 3. - A fire broke out in the western end of this city at 1:30 P. M. to-day, and , fanned by a high wind, soon totally swept the lower part of the city out of existence. The flames ran down both sides of Main street, taking in their course the St. Hyancinthe, Quebec, and National Banks, the Post Office, market, Court-house, factories, and over eighty wholesale and retail stores. At 3 PO. M. the fire had spread, by means of burning cinders, to the three parallel streets, and burned everything up. The people had no time to save anything, and at 7 P. M. 600 houses had been burned. A steam fire engine arrived from Montreal by special train at 5:30 P. M., but was too late to be of much service. Hundreds of families are homeless and without food. The loss is roughly estimated at $2,000,000. The Royal, Stadacona, Quebec, Providencial, and Royal Canadian Insurance Companies are heavily interested.

1903 - FIRE DESTROYS 250 HOUSES. One-fourth of the Population of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, Left Homeless.

ST. HYACINTHE, Quebec, May 20.- A fire which started shortly after noon to-day in the shoe factory of the Cote Brothers, destroyed half a dozen flourishing industries and 250 houses, leaving nearly a quarter of the city's population homeless. The loss is placed at $400,000. Nobody knows how the fire started. When it was first noticed it had secured a firm hold upon the Cote factory. The wind was blowing half a gale at the time, and the buildings in the immediate vicinity were of such a character as to fall easy prey to the flames. The local Fire Department did its best, but the water pressure was poor, and it was not long before the fire had gotten entirely beyond its control. Word was wired to Montreal for help, and two steamers and a supply of hose made the run of thirty-six miles in forty-four minutes.

Their coming was opportune, for by this time the fire had worked its way up to St. Antoine Street, and was attacking the finest business blocks of the town situated on the market square. Through the efforts of the Montreal men the market building and the buildings on the same side of the square were saved.

The burned district is practically the same as that destroyed in 1876.


St. Hyacinthe, Que., Jan. 19 (Canadian Press) - Two blackened skulls were found today in the frozen ashes of the burned college of the Sacred Heart, raising to 19 the total of known dead in the fire that destroyed the school for boys early yesterday.

It was feared the death list might reach 50. Twenty-six teaching brothers and students were listed as "unreported." Five of 21 injured, pronounced close to death, had last rites of the church administered to them in St. Charles Hospital.

Searching crews poking through the wreckage of the four-story college found the two skulls, unrecognizable as were most of the 16 bodies previously removed.

JEAN MARCEL PHENIX, 12-year-old pupil who leaped from the roof of the college when it collapsed, told today of the heroism of a teacher who lost his life to save a group of boys.

Brother PAUL ARMAND, born EDWARD DAUPHENAIS, whose family lives at Woonsocket, R. I., was in charge of the dormitory of "Les Petits" - the lower-form boys. The teacher herded the youngsters to one wing of the building and persuaded several to jump. The roof collapsed as he tried to get the others to follow Brother PAUL ARMAND and five or six of the pupils were plunged into the inferno.

City of Saint - Hyacinthe is 199.8 km (2 hrs. 5 min.) from Quebec City.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Riviere-du-Loup

The city was named after the nearby river, whose name means Wolf's River in French. This name may have come from a native tribe known as "Les Loups" or from the many seals, known in French as loup-marin (sea wolves), once found at the river's mouth.

Rivière-du-Loup was originally established in 1673 as the seigneurie of Sieur Charles-Aubert de la Chesnaye. The community was incorporated as the village of Fraserville, in honour of early English settler Alexandre Fraser, in 1850, and became a city in 1910. The city reverted to its original name, Rivière-du-Loup, in 1919.

Between 1850 and 1919, the city saw large increases in its anglophone population. Most of them left the region by the 1950s. 1% of the population still speaks English as its first language.

The city is known for its spectacular sunsets.

Rivière-du-Loup is a traditional stopping point between Quebec City, the Maritimes and the Gaspé Peninsula. The Trans-Canada Highway turns south here, transferring from Autoroute 20 to Autoroute 85 and continuing southerly to Edmundston, New Brunswick.
There is a ferry which crosses the river (fleuve St Laurent) to Saint-Siméon on the north shore.
The city is also served by the Rivière-du-Loup Airport. The town can also be reached by Via Rail.

Riviere-du-Loup is  376 km. (3 hrs. 35 min.) from St. Hyacinthe and 207 km. (2 hrs. 11 min.) from Quebec City.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Quebec City

The crown jewel of French Canada, Québec City is one of North America’s oldest and most magnificent settlements. Its picturesque Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a living museum of narrow cobblestone streets, 17th- and 18th-century houses and soaring church spires, with the splendid Château Frontenac towering above it all. There’s more than a glimmer of Old Europe in its classic bistros, sidewalk cafes and manicured squares.

Panorama of Quebec City skyline - courtesy Martin St-Amant

The narrowing of the Saint Lawrence River proximate to the city's promontory, Cap-Diamant (Cape Diamond), and Lévis, on the opposite bank, provided the name given to the city, Kébec, an Algonquin word meaning "where the river narrows". Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico.
Port of Quebec - Early 20th century
My Irish maternal great-grandfather and his family were mostly stevedores (longshoreman) and worked the timber wharves at Wolfe's Cove, QC, more about Wolfe's Cove in a later blog post.

St. Hyacinthe is 199.8 km (2 hr. 7 min ) from Quebec City.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Portneuf

Portneuf is a municipality in the Portneuf Regional County Municipality, in the province of Quebec, Canada. It is located on the Saint Lawrence River, between Quebec City and Trois-Rivières. The Portneuf River runs on the east side of the town centre.
The town of Portneuf is named after a seignory that was founded in 1636, and first settled in 1640.

The municipal territory consists of 2 non-contiguous areas, separated by the municipality of Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne. The smaller northern portion is undeveloped, whereas the southern piece is the main inhabited part with the population centres of Portneuf (south of Autoroute 40), and the adjacent Notre-Dame-de-Portneuf, north of A-40. The present-day municipality was created in 2002, when the old city of Portneuf merged with the town of Notre-Dame-de-Portneuf.

The town is located on the Chemin du Roy, a historic segment of Quebec Route 138 that stretches from near Montreal to Quebec City. 
One of Portneuf's major employers is a local paper mill owned by Metro Paper Industries, a Toronto-based paper company. Paper had been a major part of Portneuf's development since the first paper mill opened in 1839.

Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs Church
courtesy Bernard Gagnon

Portneuf is 186 km (1 hr. 53 min.) from St. Hyacinthe and 58 km (43 min.) from Quebec City.

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Otterburn Park

Originally a rural agricultural area, Otterburn Park's transformation began in the late 1800s, when it became a favourite weekend destination for employees of the Grand Trunk Railway, which, starting in 1885, ran a weekend train from Bonaventure Station to Mont-Saint-Hilaire.

Occasional recreational visitors, including railroad employees, bought or built summer cottages, spurring development and, eventually, permanent settlement.

Until 1949, the Otterburn park was neighbourhood within Mont-Saint-Hilaire parish. It took its present name, Otterburn Park, by vote in 1953.
Otterburn Park was the scene of the St-Hilaire train disaster in 1864, in which nearly 100 people were killed when an immigrant train failed to stop at an open swing bridge and fell into the Richelieu. The disaster remains the worst railroad accident in Canadian history, and the bridge is known to this day as the Pont Noir, or black bridge.

The St-Hilaire train disaster was a railroad disaster that occurred on June 29, 1864, near the present-day town of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. The train, which had been carrying many German and Polish immigrants, failed to acknowledge a stop signal and fell through an open swing bridge into the Richelieu River. Though uncertain, the widely accepted death toll is 99 persons. The disaster remains the worst railway accident in Canadian history.

During the 19th century the Richelieu River served as an important waterway for trade between New York City and Montreal. Tourism also developed in the area greatly due to the steamboats that travelled up and down the river. The Belœil Bridge was built as a swing bridge so that the railway would not interrupt the shipping lanes. The bridge connects the present-day municipalities of Otterburn Park, on the river's east bank, with Beloeil, on its west bank. Other nearby municipalities are Mont-St-Hilaire, on the east bank, and McMasterville, on the west bank.

St.- Hilaire Train Disaster - June 29, 1864

On June 29, 1864, a Grand Trunk train carrying between 354 and 475 passengers, many of them German and Polish immigrants, was traveling from Quebec City to Montreal. At around 1:20 a.m. local time the train was approaching the Belœil Bridge The swing bridge had been opened to allow the passage of five barges and a steamer ship. A red light a mile ahead of the bridge signaled to the train that the crossing was open and it needed to slow. However, the light was not acknowledged by the conductor, Thomas Finn, or the engineer, William Burnie, and the train continued towards the bridge from the east.
At 1:20 a.m. the train came onto the bridge and fell through an open gap. The engine and eleven coaches fell through the gap one after another on top of each other, crushing a passing barge. The train sank into an area of the river with a depth of 10 feet (3.0 m). 99 people aboard the train were killed and 100 more were injured. Among the dead was Thomas Finn and the fireman aboard the train. The engineer was hurt slightly in the accident but was able to escape the wreck. The Grand Trunk Railway tried to blame the disaster on the conductor and engineer for failing to obey the standing order to stop before crossing the bridge. The engineer, who had only recently been hired, claimed that he was not familiar with the route and that he did not see the signal.
The Grand Jury on October 5, 1864, placed full responsibility for the disaster on the Grand Trunk Railway for negligence in failing to ensure all trains stopped before crossing the bridge as required by statute. "...the Grand Jury consider it their duty to reiterate their solemn conviction that the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada are mainly responsible for the melancholy catastrophe of the 29th of June last, and the great destruction of life caused thereat, and that they trust the said Company will be found amenable to tribunal for their shameful treatment of their numerous passengers on that occasion."

The Grand Trunk Railway sent large numbers of men to assist the recovery and rescue efforts. Furthermore, the rescue effort was supported by members of the German Society of Montreal, the St. George's Society of Montreal, the St. Patrick's Society of Montreal and the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society of Montreal. The hospitals and other institutions in nearby Montreal were used for the injured passengers. The dead were also brought to Montreal and buried in the Mount Royal and Roman Catholic cemeteries.

Otterburn Park is 25 km (26 min.) from St. Hyacinthe and 222 km (2 hrs. 19 min.) from Quebec City.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for Neuville

Neuville is a village on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River, just west of Quebec City, part of the Portneuf Regional County Municipality, Quebec, Canada. It was founded in 1684, and has remained quite picturesque throughout these years... Neuville has an excellent marina for pleasure sailboats and yachts.

The community of Neuville is located in the Quebec Greater Area (Portneuf county), on the Chemin du Roy, the first Canadian road linking Quebec City to Montreal since 1734. The town stands on the northern bank of the St. Lawrence River, some thirty km from Quebec City downtown.

Neuville (population 3800) is one of the oldest parishes in Canada. Indeed, the first settlers come here in 1665. Today, Neuveille is perched atop three ranges of marine terraces that have dominated the St. Lawrence River ever since the glaciers melted.

There are about two dozens remarkable historical buildings in varying styles there and guided tours are available to many of the old homes especially on rue des Érables. This street was opened on the original Chemin du Roy, but is now bypassed by Highway 138.

Historically, the community of Neuville was renowned for supplying limestone to many Quebec buildings and sites, as well as for its shipyard. Later, since the 20th century, the village underwent a period of hotel and resort development.

Church of Saint - Francois-de-Sales

The Church of Saint-François-de-Sales, built in 1854, presents twenty-six paintings by artiste Antoine Plamondon (1804-1895), who also served as mayor of the village.

The Seigneurial Manor of Larue, built in 1835 on a small rolling hill, is one of the major buildings that make up Neuville’s architectural heritage. The Rue du Quai leads to the quay and the marina, which welcomes boating enthusiasts each summer.

Castel Vauquelin Hotel - Neuville, QC

Neuville, QC is 210 km (2 hrs.) from St. Hyacinthe and 34 km (35 min.) from Quebec City.