The morning of our departure on our great Canadian adventure dawned sunny and warm. After a devastating hurricane had delayed the trip several times, we were so excited to finally pack up the car and head out. Three girls on an adventure. Destination unknown. Our only plan - drive around the east coast of Canada. We had no deadline, no reason to rush anywhere.
Our first stop was Canadian Tire - we still needed a few last minute items. Then, 400 south to the 401 - the highway of heros - and east. At some point we pulled off the highway and headed north through Ontario farm country, crossing into Quebec in Hawksebury/Grenville.
Carillon Canal Locks National Historic Site
After crossing into Quebec we drove along the north shore of the Ottawa river, where there are some spectacular old French homes. We stopped for a break at the Carillon Canal Locks National Historic Site, which encompasses the canal locks, a hydroelectric dam and a museum in former barracks. Our newly purchased camera chose this location to break down - on our first day!
Oka National Park
Our first night was spent at Oka National Park, the site of the well-known conflict in 1990 between the Mohawk, who wanted to reclaim local burial grounds and a pine grove that was sacred to their people, and the town of Oka, which wanted to build a golf course and condos on the same land. The Oka crisis brought national attention to native issues and aided in the development of Canada's First Nations Policing Policy.
We had a great site near the beach, where we were lucky enough to be visited by foxes, raccoons and skunks.
Pointe-du-Moulin Historic Park
While our camera was in for repairs at a shop in Montreal, we spent the day at Pointe-du-Moulin Historic Park in Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot, an island on the outskirts of the city.
After picking up the camera, we continued our trip along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River past Quebec City and through the rolling hills along the Route des Baleines (Whale Route) towards Camping Falaise-sur-Mer, our home for the next night.
Our campsite was high above the river. The bugs were ferocious but the views were incredible. The shadows lengthened and the sky turned cotton candy pink and purple. Our dreams were accompanied by the sound of whales talking to one another.
Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Tadoussac
The Saguenay river, which flows between Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Tadoussac, can only be crossed by ferry. In 1850, the New York Tribune wrote about the Saguenay river, saying it is "the most astonishing river on the globe - stealing along the eternal solitude of its fathomless gulf, between banks that tower far above the clouds."
The crossing is short but memorable. The river flows over a fjord that was formed during the last Ice Age when a crack was carved out by a receding glacier. Steep tree-covered cliffs hug the river and the water sparkles. The nutrient rich waters attracts whales and whale watchers alike.
On the other side of the river lies Tadoussac, Canada's first fur-trading post dating back to 1600.