Posts Tagged With: Canada

Next Stop – Niagara Falls

Today we took a full day tour from Toronto to Niagara Falls.  I am struggling to remember the last time we did a group tour but I am really glad that we chose this option to visit Niagara Falls. Judy was an entertaining and informative guide who made sure that everyone had the best experience possible.  There were a couple of stops along the way, including almost an hour at the picture perfect historic town of Niagara-on-the Lake.

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There were flowers everywhere.

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Then it was on to Niagara Falls.

The buffet lunch at the Sheraton Hotel gave us our first real view.  This photo is taken from the table where we we sitting for lunch.  The falls in the foreground are described as the ‘American’ falls while the ‘Canadian’ falls which are regarded as the more spectacular ones are in the distance and partially obscured from this angle.

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Although the falls are a natural phenomenon there is plenty of man-made tackiness around them.  Some of the streets look like sideshow alley.

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However, the attraction of the falls drew us here and it did not disappoint.  We boarded the boat for a short cruise up to the base of the thundering waterfalls (‘Canadian’).  Even complimentary disposable ponchos did not keep us completely dry.  Being so close was an amazing experience but photographs were difficult to capture.

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Finally, the bus took us to where we could walk along the promenade which overlooks the falls on the Canadian side.  This was the highlight for me and I was able to take many photos from different angles.  Here are a couple of views.

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Amazing scenery and we are so glad to have had the opportunity to witness the power of the water first-hand.





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Ottawa in One Day

Like Montreal, we had just one full day in Ottawa.  Our run of luck with almost perfect weather ran out as the rain began on the evening we arrived and continued well into the next day.

After a slow start we braved the showery conditions and walked from our accommodation to Parliament Hill.

On our way we walked through the old market area of Bytown (the original name for Ottawa) and across the Rideau Canal.  The series of locks at the junction of the canal and Ottawa River proved irresistible as we watched a vessel make its way through.  It is all manually operated.  It took almost an hour for the boat to navigate all of the locks.

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Looking the other way along the canal.  In winter, the canal becomes a giant ice-skating rink as the entire waterway freezes.

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The Parliament Building has commanding position atop the hill on the southern bank of the Ottawa River and overlooks the city.

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As you can see from the sky in the photographs, it was not a great day for sightseeing but we persevered and took in as much of the city sights as we could.

The weather fined up late in the afternoon and we were able to go back to the Parliament Buildings to see the “Northern Lights:Sound and Light Show” set against the backdrop of the building.  It was well done with amazing technology and we really enjoyed it.

The next day was fine and sunny for our train trip to Toronto which is the final stop in our trip.  We have a couple of big events planned during our 3 nights there but more on that in the next post.

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Just One Day

We arrived in Montreal at 4.15pm yesterday and in just 24 hours we have managed to see and experience the highlights of the city.  Of course, this is only our opinion.

Once we had arrived at our accommodation, our first destination was Jean-Talon market which is literally about 100m from where we are staying.  At this time of the year it is bursting with fresh, local fruit and vegetables.

Our plan for today included the basilica, beer and a bus to the park.

We began by catching the subway into one of the city stations where we walked a short distance to the Notre Dame Basilica.  The architecture is more ornate than the one in Quebec.

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The interior is something to behold.

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Like Quebec City, Montreal has an old town area with a distinctly European feel, however, we had decided that it was probably enough to see the historic district in just one of them.  We did walk through part of old Montreal  on our way back to the subway and I felt our decision was justified.

From Mont Royal station we caught a bus to the summit of Mont Royal at an elevation of a little over 200m.  Judging from the number of passengers who were also clutching tourist maps, we were not alone in this endeavour.  The mountain is clearly most spectacular during the autumn months but we enjoyed a pleasant walk along the path to the lookout.

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The view of the city and the St Lawrence River.

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A return bus ride brought us back to the inner suburban area known as ‘The Plateau’.  Like many  inner city suburbs it has undergone somewhat of a rebirth in recent years.  Hidden in an unassuming building is what is regarded as one of Montreal’s top craft breweries, Dieu du Ciel.

The beer ‘menu’ is on wall-mounted  blackboards and there is no shortage of choices.  Most are their own brews with some other specialty beers as well.

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GMan tested a couple of different beers and we shared a vegetarian platter and some nachos.  By the time we left at 3.30pm there was a queue beginning to form outside.  It is clearly a very popular place with locals and tourists alike.

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Here are a couple of views of residences in the area which caught my eye as we walked back to our accommodation.


We enjoyed our brief experience of Montreal.  Our next stop is Ottawa.






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Night Moves

After 3 days of traversing the steps and cobblestoned laneways  of Old Quebec, we had a rest day – at least it was a rest until after 3pm.  This was quite a smart idea since today was a bit warmer and walking during the middle of the day would have been a bit much.  Although the temperature only reached 26C the humidity made it feel like 32C.

Our walk this afternoon was in the opposite direction to the city and away from the hordes of tourists and sightseers.  We wandered along  leafy streets where residents were going about their daily business – picking up kids from daycare, putting out the garbage, skateboarding and arriving home from work.  I enjoyed the normality of it all.

This evening we went back to the walled town as I was hoping to get some more photos as dusk fell.  The Upper Town was still very busy with people packed into the many cafes and restaurants which line the narrow streets.  However, the atmosphere had a much softer feel as the old stone buildings were bathed in the glow of external lighting.

Here are a few of the photos I took.

Some restaurants

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The full moon

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Chateau Frontenac

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The Old Post Office

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Archway and garden

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Stained glass window in Jesuit Chapel

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Tower at the Kent Gate on the city wall

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And one last restaurant on Rue Sainte Jean

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We are off to Montreal tomorrow afternoon on the train so it will be a new city to explore.







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Stepping Out (and Up and Down)

From a strategic military point of view, Quebec is ideally located – on a cliff top overlooking the river.  The old, walled city is clearly divided into the upper and lower town by the cliff and these are joined by various staircases.  These range in height from between 150 and 400 steps.  Of course, there is also the funicular which is essentially a cross between an elevator and a cable car.  The importance of access between the 2 sections of the city is emphasised by the fact that this has been in operation since 1879.

This information board shows the original funicular.

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The current version which we rode yesterday (up, of course).

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Walking around Quebec is certainly not for the faint-hearted as there are plenty of staircases in other parts of the city, too.

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Some of the streets are so steep that the footpaths are steps or have handrails attached to the front of the buildings.

I am really glad we do not have a car here as it was tricky enough negotiating the main roads to drop it off at the car rental company.  A map does not show the elevations and my first futile attempt at navigating led us to the foot of a cliff – the roads did not join up as it appeared on the map!




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A Change of Pace

Yesterday we drove along the southern side of the St Lawrence River from Riviere du Loup to Levis where we caught the ferry across to Quebec.

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The ferry provides the best view of the Chateau Frontenac which is perched atop the cliff within the confines of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  This imposing hotel opened in 1893 and is regarded as the most photographed hotel in the world.

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It has been a quantum leap from the rural areas of the maritime provinces to the bustle of a city.

We are staying in a quiet, residential area, a few narrow streets away from Rue Saint-Jean.  Although this street is several blocks from the walled city and its cobblestone streets, it is no less historic and interesting.

This is the oldest grocery store in North America – it opened in 1871.  We delved in and bought a few goodies.  The interior is absolutely amazing.

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Today we walked to the old walled city and took in some of the sights, along with hundreds of others.  A cruise ship in the harbour must have helped swell the numbers even further.

Part of the steps leading down to Lower Town.

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Some of the crowds on Petit-Champlain.

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Flowers are everywhere.

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An amazing mural – the front of the building really is brick and the bricks on the end are part of the mural.  Even from quite close, it is almost impossible to pick the difference.  I love the detail.

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After taking in the sights, we headed back to the Upper Town where we attended an organ recital in the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame.

The exterior is not particularly fancy.

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But the interior is a different story entirely.

We are here for 5 nights so there will be plenty more photos to show you in the coming days.


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Back to the USA

Yesterday we travelled from Saint Andrews to Fredericton in New Brunswick by a rather circuitous route.  It is only 130km by the most direct route but we decided to go via 2 islands and another country and arrived 9 hours after leaving Saint Andrews.  But what a fun trip we had.

A short drive to Back Bay to catch the ferry to Deer Island.  There are literally dozens of islands in every bay so you are never far from land.  It was a beautiful day to be out on the water.

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An identical ferry passed us making the trip in the opposite direction.

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We drove the length of Deer Island (about 15 km) to reach out next ferry which would take us to Campobello Island.  This little vessel holds about 20 vehicles and is powered by a tugboat which is attached to the side of the barge – a most interesting concept.  I probably would not have realised how it worked except that I was speaking to an elderly local man while we were waiting in the queue and he alerted me to it.

Here is the view as we started to move away from the dock.

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Then the tug swings out at right angles on the pivot arm.

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And finally, it tucks in at the other end of the barge as we move forwards toward Campobello Island.  The deckhand lashes the tug to the capstan on the barge to keep it in place during the journey.  Fascinating!

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The lure of Campobello Island was that although it is part of Canada, the southern end of the island is Roosevelt Campobello International Park which preserves the house and surrounding landscape of the family summer retreat of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his family.  This area is jointly managed by the US and Canadian Governments.

The visitor centre houses a small theatre where you can view a short film on the life of Franklin D Roosevelt and the influence of his childhood summers on the island.

Then is was off to visit the summer house of Franklin and Eleanor.  There are guides located at intervals throughout the house to complete the story and answer any questions.

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The expansive parkland surrounds contain numerous information boards about Campobello Island as a summer destination during the latter part of the 1800’s until about 1930.

There are also several other houses preserved in the park, including this one which is known as the Hubbard House.  They were neighbours and became friends with the Roosevelt family.

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Whilst the exterior of the house does not look particularly special, the interior is architecturally stunning.

The rooms are perfectly proportioned and finished.  It is impossible to describe the oval picture window.  The photo does not do it justice but it is like nothing I have ever seen before.

By comparison, the Roosevelt home looks barn-like from the outside and despite the 18 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms the interior is relatively utilitarian.

As an added bonus, there is no admission cost at all.

It was then a short hop across the bridge to the USA border at Lubec and a 10km drive to the West Quoddy Lighthouse.  This lighthouse marks the easternmost point of the mainland USA.

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Even as we arrived in the early afternoon the fog was rolling in and the foghorn began to sound.  It is not difficult to imagine the challenges of mariners in years gone by.

We completed the loop by heading north to the international border where we crossed back into Canada and on to Fredericton for the next couple of nights.




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A Tale of Two Tides

We are now on the south coast of New Brunswick, overlooking the Bay of Fundy which home to the highest tides in the world.  To gain the best appreciation you really need to see the area at both the high and low tides.  The admission to the park acknowledges this by being valid for 2 consecutive days.

I managed to take these matching shots at several points so that you can see the massive difference.  Each pair of photos is an almost identical shot at low tide (on the left) and high tide (on the right).

The following photos are a sequence I took during the incoming tide when it is rising at its fastest – about halfway between low and high tide.

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21 minutes later the low rocks on the left hand side are submerged.  Notice how brown and discoloured the water has become from the mud being disturbed by the tidal movement.

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Another 19 minutes and water is coming into view on the left hand side of the photo.

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15 minutes later the kayaks are where there was exposed ocean floor less than an hour ago.

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And 14 minutes further on and the water has entered Lovers’ Arch.  It is still an hour until the high tide and the water has about another 3 metres to rise in that time.  The ocean floor in this cove will be completely submerged.

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It was amazing to be able to witness this tidal phenomenon in the Bay of Fundy.



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All About Anne

This trip is 6 weeks of discovery in cities and rural areas, encompassing history, art, cuisine, natural wilderness, lighthouses, craft beer, music, geology and much more.  But if I am totally honest, it is about Anne of Green Gables.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would ever make it to Prince Edward Island – it is just so far away.  However, when I realised that you might just be possible, I decided to create a trip which would include not only Anne of Green Gables but many other things of interest to us in the maritime provinces of Canada.

The last 2 days have been simply amazing and I still have to pinch myself to believe that it is true.

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Yesterday we attended a matinee performance of ‘Anne of Green Gables – The Musical’ at the ‘Confederation Centre of the Arts’ in Charlottetown.  This is the 52nd summer season of the production which has continued to evolve.  I had booked our tickets (seats in the 5th row from the front) about 6 months ago but was a little unsure as to how I would feel about the adaptation from the novel.  All my fears dissipated as soon as it started and we both enjoyed the show immensely.

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Today we set out to visit the area of Cavendish where the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ story is set.  There are 3 sites in the area which showcase various features and landmarks which would be very familiar to readers of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne” novels.  First we visited the Anne of Green Gables Museum which was owned by her Campbell relatives.

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The property remains in the family and the house is open and is furnished as it was during the time L M Montgomery visited here.  She was married in the parlour of this home.  The most significant feature is the lake near the front of the property which was the inspiration for the ‘Lake of Shining Waters’, even though it is several miles from the site of ‘Green Gables’.

Next was the site of her home where she lived with her maternal grandparents after the death of her mother from tuberculosis before Lucy was 2 years old.  Although the house is no longer standing the property is beautifully cared for by descendants of the family who still live on the property.

There are detailed signs which show the well, cellar of the house and well-marked walking trails which lead you through well-loved places such as the ‘Haunted Wood’ and ‘Lover’s Lane’.

At the end of the walking trail is the entrance to what many would regard as the absolute highlight, ‘Green Gables’.

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We even met Anne.

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At each location there were plenty of souvenirs and I opted to buy just one.  It is a boxed set of 5 DVDs.  I am looking forward to watching it and hopefully my granddaughters will come to enjoy it as they grow up, too.

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I hope you have enjoyed sharing my ‘Anne’ adventure.


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On the Move

Staying in Halifax and surrounds for 5 days enabled us to see a good range of scenery and attractions in the area.  Then it was time to move on to Cape Breton Island.  Although the island is part of Nova Scotia, I think they tend to regard themselves as different to the mainland.

As usual, we tried to take the ‘road less travelled’ and stay off the major highway once we left Halifax.  The extensive coastline of the maritime provinces offers something new at every turn and this time it was the Eastern Shore that shone.

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This tiny cottage was the centrepiece of another museum.  It was built in the 1850s for a fisherman, his wife and 7 children.  The flat-roofed ‘summer kitchen’ was added by the next generation.  They had 13 daughters – all raised in this house!

We also saw the barn, outdoor wash-house and the chicken run where we saw this beautiful Barred Plymouth Rock rooster.  He was just beautiful.

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More coastal scenery.

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The water is amazingly clear and the colours of the rocks are many and varied.

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We arrived in Baddeck for our first night in Cape Breton.  More about that next time.



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