10 September 2011

The Heart of Québec

Le Centre-de-Québec is the center of the province, and we're told we will find the heart of Francophone culture here.  Petite villages, long narrow fields running down to the St. Lawrence, and dense thickets of hardwoods just beginning to color - if you follow Le Chemin du Roi (the King's Highway) west from Québec City, you can imagine yourself back in time 200+ years.  

Each field/farmer had access to the river, a key means of transportation.  The slender lengthy fields still provide this access.  Squat heritage homes, les maisons ancestrales, feature narrow windows bordered by brightly painted shutters, and are capped by roofs in brilliant red, yellow, blue or sheets of tin or copper.  Sunlight gleams off these roofs, and those of the churches beaded along this scenic route.  We are told, by a friend who lives in one of these villages, that there is a Catholic church every 10 km.  These are serious churches, too.  They are immense by our "village church" standards, stately, seemingly timeless and boast interiors cluttered with life-size oil paintings of saints, icons, red-wax candles, and ornate gold leaf on every dimensional surface. 

In stark contrast, we noticed...trucks!  There are trucks out here on these country roads.  We feel a little more at home here, as opposed to when we wedge our truck between "toy cars" in the narrow rues and avenues of old Quebec City.  We are on our way to something even more familiar, a country-western festival.  About 1.5 hours northwest of the city sits St. Tite's, a little village of 4,000 inhabitants with a history of leatherworking, and 30+ year-old tradition of hosting a western music, art and rodeo festival.  Dubbed "the biggest stampede east of Calgary", nearly 65,000 people come to the town daily for the 2-week long festival.  We weren't about to miss it!

We parked outside of town, and took a school bus shuttle into town.  Our fellow passengers were outright dudes.  But, we were all having a great time.  At the festival, we found comic efforts to look "country" alongside legitimately scuffed and dirty cowboy boots.  We heard French-Canadian country music, watched hundreds of people line dancing as if they'd been born doing it, and took a few country-jitterbug turns on the dance floor ourselves.  

We had a fantastic time, and an equally delightful time staying overnight on a friend's farm near neighboring St. Stanislas. 

On our return, we meandered along the Chemin du Roi, stopping at a farm stand selling bread baked in wood-fired outdoor ovens.  As we gathered our basketball-sized loaf and sack of apples, the baker offered us piping hot fresh apple turnovers - gratuite!  Free!  With bread, one must have cheese.  During the ensuing search, we fortified ourselves with local sausages at a tiny authentic farmers market clustered beneath yet another church - l'église de Sainte Anne-de-la-Pérade.

If we stay in this province, it would be mighty tempting to move out to this region.  We are already planning a return trip to the road-side baker.  He's asked me to come back and take professional photographs for him, and to build a website, too!  Stay tuned for more about Verger Réjean Trottier (Réjean Trottier's Orchard) as this project develops!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the baker’s stance as he tests the loaf from the oven for doneness. That is the pizza pie maker’s pose, also.

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