When I was asked to write a piece about Canada I first thought about a grand literary masterpiece that spanned the width and length of Canada. Then my artistic side went for a coffee and never seemed to return. How does one describe their home, when the majority of our travels are conceived out of a need to find new territories in the “otherworld”?
Over the years I have, like many Canadian escaped to the Caribbean or the Bahamas, Central or South America or to Arizona and Florida to get a break from the cold and brutal winters. In the summers we travel across the pond to soak up some older ages culture.
Yet, over the years, there has been one place whose business card seems to be firmly entrenched in my wallet. I have used it as a start point before trips and a stopping point after trips. Each time, the stay was always extended more than one night to soak up the local atmosphere. I have lost track of the times I have been and stayed over the years, and yet I still return. It has a pure character.
Nested on the banks of the St. Lawrence River is one of the cradles of North America. Here resides Old Quebec City, in the province of Quebec. Once the traveller enters through the gates of the old city it is obvious that history resides here. Originally a French settlement it was conquered by the British in the big Battle of the Plains. The result was the formation of a European city with a Canadian twist. That is why it is UNESCO designated. The city offers twenty pages of plaudits and it is impossible to cover it in a few paragraphs. Want to see the oldest, most photographed hotel in the world? Why Chateau Frontenac of course. Its massive turrets overlook the Plains of Abraham and the river. Do you want to see horse-drawn carriages and outdoor restaurants and cobblestone streets and international cuisine? Look no further. Do you want to see artists ply their trade outdoors in their own outdoor art gallery, Rue du Tressor? It is all here.
Do you want to rival the Great Wall of China? Then come to Old Quebec where you will see 4.6km of walls and imposing gates. Walk where history was made and is still made every day, in all four seasons. Cannons and fortresses reflect our British and French history.
Wander through Place Royal where Champlain founded his place in 1608. Take in the very trendy shops in buildings that are still like yesterday. Come in December, when the bitter cold from the river eats our bones, yet the Christmas atmosphere is a step back in time. Celebrate Christmas Eve, as I have done, in the Old Quarter and go to the midnight mass in the square’s church. Think who else has sat in that pew, years ago.
Take a trip next door and visit Montmorency Falls which is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls Bring your bicycle and pedal your way through the numerous bike paths.
Visit Ste Anne de Beaupre, the church and the oldest place of “ miracles” for the past 350 years. This shrine attracts over one million visitors per year. Its history of healing is a Canadian legend.
But, whatever you do….just come, because this is a necessary part of the Canadian experience.