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 A Trip in Canada - Part One

By Rene Vidmer - Allentown, Pennsylvania - USA

To Part One

To Part Two

To Part Three

To Part Four

To Part Five

To Part Six


Stage 1: I relaunched April 29, in Tarrytown on the Hudson, where I pulled her for a refit last August. Had a lovely run up the Hudson, the Champlain Canal, and Lake Champlain to Burlington VT. No problems, and no other boats either. I had the nine 18 foot locks all to myself. I'm not sure opening and closing massive steel gates, letting in hundreds of thousands of gallons of water in order to raise one fifteen foot skiff eighteen feet is a wise expenditure of the taxpayers money, but what the hell. Have laid the boat up in Burlington, a marvelous little city, because of the sudden onslaught of rain, snow and cold temps. Will continue North when things warm up a bit.

AF4 Breve . The refit. After 3500 miles, good as new.
The route so far.
I put a bid in on this, but it was rejected.
Not having a mast can be a definite advantage at times.

Stage 2: Had spectacularly good weather on this leg. Almost every day was comparable to my best day on the Southbound legs last year. With the exception of one day on Lake Champlain where it blew 30k and had me really having to concentrate to maintain control of the boat while surfing quartering seas, the many and various waters gave me a smooth ride. I crossed into Canada at the top of Lake Champlain and was astonished to find myself so immediately back in France. Quebec is a culture rooted in the European tradition: European architecture, European shops, European signage (not a Wallmart, Burger King, Gap, or Dunkin Donuts in sight). No billboards, Malls, or Big Box stores anywhere. It is like all of Quebec is one gigantic National Park, and a good deal of it actually is.

No English. I don't mean they prefer French; most people speak little or no English in Quebec. Once you leave Montreal and Quebec for Ottawa and Ontario, you experience a rather sudden shift into English, with French coming in a poor second.

I stopped for gas at a little rickety dock a few miles North of the US/Canada border and noticed a small sign: "déjeuner", on a small shack at the end of the dock. Inside the shack was a light, airy, and spotless room, with a small kitchen at one end and a few aluminum and plastic tables neatly arranged at the other. There were fresh flowers on each table. The cook-hostess-waitress was the dock owners' wife. She spoke no English, but managed to order a breakfast of scrambled eggs, and bacon and freshly made bread. It arrived with diced and sautéed potatoes, and a slice of home grown tomato on a bed of lettuce. The silver was silver, the china-china. A simple meal, but elegant. French Canada, I was discovering, embodied not just the look of France, but its' sense of style.

In the photos below you will see no other boats, because there weren't any; I had the rivers, lakes, locks, and canals pretty much to myself.

For the record, I ran Lake Champlain North to the Chambly Canal and Richelieu River to the St Lawrence River at Sorel.

Thence, Southwest to Montreal and NorthWest via the Ottawa River to Ottawa, and South via the Rideau Lakes and channels to Kingston, Ontario, and a bit further South to North Pond in NY State.

Preferred mode of transportation in the North Country.
A lock on the Rideau. 100 foot drop. One of the worlds largest about to open just for me.
Hand operated lock just beyond Ottawa City.
Right in the heart of the city, this is the Ottawa Canal. Like the Seine running through the center of Paris.
Dawn on the Rideau.

To Be Continued...


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