QC_quebec-cityQuebec province a scenic Canadian state with Irish roots
Canada is becoming a major destination for the Irish with direct flights from Dublin
and Shannon in 2010 with Air Transact and Air Canada.
We have visited the state of Quebec on more than once and find the state exhilarating
and interesting with a nice mix of North America and that of France..
You have the fantastic big city tempo of Montreal, the mountain region of the
Laurentians, the great river valley of the St Laurence, perhaps one of the greatest
rivers of North America, down to the sea at Labrador, a gateway to the Atlantic
The wonderful beauty of the forests of Quebec that supply so much of the world’s
lumber, this is particulatly beautiful in autumn, in summer travel out to the
magnificent Gaspe peninsula I as well as the
Scenic coastline.
Access is now easier from Ireland with a direct service to Montreal from Dublin with
Air Transat, a Canadian charter airline with return air fares from 400 euro tax
It is a huge area stretching from the American border north to the Artic Circle.
The province is vast but we have just seen part of it.
A few years ago we travelled north of Montreal to the lakes and mountains of the
Laurentine mountains.
There is the sophisticated resorts of St. Sauveur and Mont Tremblant, framous for
skiing in winter and good walking area in summer with plenty of lakes in between.
The summers are warm when the lakes are popular for people to take the sun swim or
use for water sports.
We tried rafting one day and canoeing on another, renting row boats is also an option.
The forests are wonderful for walking and taking hiking trails.
One trail takes the path of a disused railway line going through St. Sauvuer.
Here you can talk or cycle on the old rail line now a well sign posted path.
You can stop over night in various guesthouses along the route, some times near a
river or canal to add to the tranquility and away from traffic.
AS this is part of French Canada there are fine food stops along the way.
The Bonjour Quebec website will have details and can respond to enquiries.
We have described the most historic city of Quebec in another article, giving its great
links with Ireland from the famine days of 1847.
We took a train from Montreal to Quebec on the route you go through great farmland
and mature forests, before hitting Quebec city,the historic capital of Canada, before
Ottawa when Canada became a Federation in the 1860s.
We were recommended some great coastal drives to Baie St. Paul to the north of
Quebec, but the weather turned wet and windy.
Baie St.Paul is a famous area for artists,who paint the rugged coastline not too
different from Ireland. There are some wonderful villages and sights along the way,
Best done on a nice summer day, there are French style pension or guest houses to
stay in at good value prices.
This is about a two hour plus drive from the city of Quebec and could be done in a
day, if you want to make the city your base.
But as one Irish person told us, why not stay somewhere quiet and get a feel for the
Canadian wilderness while still not too far from a city.
The Gaspe peninsula is also highly recommended.
We went part of the way on our journey to the Quebec quarantine station of Grosse
Ile, wehere many Irish died in the famine including many fromthis region as the
surnames show.
The Gaspe brings you out to the wide open sea of Labrador, well known for its cold
water from the Artic Ocean. This large sea eventually leads one to the Atlantic and
would have been the route of the sea going emigrants from Ireland and Brtian on their
sway to Quebec and Montreal seeking a new life from the poverty of the then island
of Ireland.
The whole area is French speaking, but if you say you are Irish you will gbet a warm
welcome as if a long lost cousin.
It is well worth reading up some history in advance of how the British conquered
Canada, defeating the French in 1763. Nearly a century later, the Irish began their
emigration to Canada, 20 years later saw the beginning of the Federation of Canada,
The first British colony to get some self determination, before the Irish , This
democratic move was inspired by Irish man Darcy Magee, later to be assassinated
outside church in Montreal in the late 1860s.
Montreal itself is a great city and worth sepdning three days there beforfe venturing to
the countryside and Quebec city.
A city of great pride, it has the largest St. Pats Day parade, with over 100,000
watching it and like New York, the locals will tell you they turn Irish for the day.
It has the distinction of being the oldest parade in North American, pre dating New
The city is renowned for its festivals with the Just for Laughs in July and Jazz in June.
The city ‘s bars and restaurants are very lively, whether in English speaking Crescent,
check out Hurleys Irish bar or the French speaking plateau, where there is great food.
The city also boats a China town again great value food..
A boat trip from the harbour is another delight, the Botanical Gardens are brilliant and
have an Eastern flavour with Japanese and Chinese gardens, this is very close to
the Olympic Stadium.
We hired a bike for a day cycling to Lachine, where the canal and the St. Laurence
meet, along the way, you can see the brilliant rapids, that had to be circumnavigatged
with a canal for shipping.
Many Irish built the canal and Rue St. Patrick along the canal is the longest street in
the city, sadly many Irish died during construciton
For those who want to take mass, St. patrick’s Cathedral is a must and also Notre
Dame in old Montreal, a nice area to stay and soak up the atmosphere as well as be
near the river.
The airport is about a 30 minute journey or 30 dollars by taxi, try the bus to Berri and
then use the underground that is easy to navigate. We found the locals very helpful,
all speak English nearly, as this is a bilingual city.
The farmers market, Jean Talon in the Italian area was brilliant to see, fanstastic
cheeses etc mouth watering food displays, our guide took us also to the Mont Royal
Park a the top of the Hill with brilliant views of the city .
MacGill University, founded by a Scotsman, is worth a look and is like Trintiy in
Dublin, the muesums are fairly interesting but we found it was not a strong point
although there was an interesting Irish exhibition in MacCord telling the hisory of the
Irish in the city, who lived near Grifintown on the waterside, much of this area has
changed with new road ways and warehouses but some of the nice old houses still
The coat of arms of Montreal boasts the shamrock, the English rose, the Socttish
thistle and the French fleur do les. Brede Merrigna of Tramore, a long term resident
here told us how the Scots were the bankers, the French the artisans, the Irish the
builders and the English the administrators. An interesting mix and today there is a
huge cultural mix with many Africans, Asians and East Europeans, making it a very
cosmopolitan city.
We found the city a little too hectic and took a breath to the great open air.
A car is really needed but the train ride to Quebec proved worthwhile, single was just
50 euro for the 200 mile journey, you get a feel for the great farms in Quebec and the
strong daity tradition. A drive a day later to Beaupre proved really nice, known as
the Kings highway, just outside Quebec city.
There are wonderful old style French villages, you can visit a vineyard, a farm
growing tomatoes or strawberries depending on the season in this lush countryside
that looks over the great St. Laurence river.
The wine maker gave us a sample as we sat and tried to sell us some wine and food,
really tasty.
WE visited an old school house now local museum telling us the history of the area,
Where this old convent started in the 1600s, the Engloish closed it in 1760s.
Further down the road is the final destination of the famous
Basilica of Our Lady of Beaupre, a magnificent Cathedral that beats anything in
The horoscopes at the entrance are amazing and showed how the church also had links
with astronomy.
The French quebecers like the Irish were very religious and was like a symbol
against the ruling British, who had to respect their wishes and traditions up to recent