Experiencing the culture of the Quebecois


One year I decided to move to Quebec Canada. San Francisco had gotten more expensive and the novelty and beauty of Northern California were becoming passe. And I had another motive for moving. I had fallen in love with a Frenchman who was moving to Quebec. So off I went, leaving my friends behind, to a small cabin I found on the internet which I rented for 1 year. I had my new business, the travel site “Vacations-Abroad.com” and it did not matter where I lived. I was now working on the internet. I could work from anywhere.

My cabin was located in the outskirts of the village of St Jovite, 1 hour north of Montreal at the edge of the Mont Tremblant ski resort. The road where I lived had a river and small waterfall running along one side of the road, with small cottages on the opposite side. The neighbors were hardly ever around and only showed up on the weekends or during the summer to enjoy the scenery or go skiing. The cabin was very rustic with a wonderful wood burning fireplace. And a main bedroom downstairs with two smaller bedrooms upstairs in the loft. I had two cats “Blackie” and “Violet” which I had brought from San Francisco. It was so peaceful and beautiful and I took a lot of photos of snowflakes.

I made friends easily, as the Quebecois were very friendly. I would knock on the doors of the local “B&Bs” and “Holiday Cottages” and got to become friends with many of the owners who joined my site. One of my neighbors and friends was Geraldine and her husband who owned cottages and a bed and breakfast just down the road from where I was staying on Lac Superieur.

During the winter season, I had parties during the full moon. The light from moon would reflect off of the snow and the landscape was transformed. The scenery appeared to be surreal and absolutely beautiful. Everyone would dress warm and we would go hiking in the mountains behind the house with a glass of wine in hand. My new friends would tease me about the bears in the hills, and that we were probably disturbing the bears that were hibernating. After that I became more aware of the signs of bears; such as claw marks on the doors of the cabin. Upon additional review I moved out of the lower bedroom into the loft area in case any bears decided to visit the premises unannounced.

Driving in those snowy conditions was always risky for me. I was amazed at the locals driving ability to go zooming down the icy roads as if they were ice skating. And they never wrecked their cars. I was a different story. Once I flipped my car going around a corner and another evening as the roads iced up I careened into the side of a hill. But it was that accident where I met one of my best friends in Quebec. As I was off on the side of the road, a couple in a van stopped to see if they could help. Francois and Eva, stopped and helped me get my car out of the ditch. Francois was French Canadian and his wife Eva, was native Cree. They lived in Montreal and had a small summer cottage on one of the smaller lakes in the area.

Francois, Eva and I became good friends and one summer Eva invited me to accompany her during her trip to visit her family on the shores of Lake Mistassini. Her family lived on the Cree Reservation which was situated on the shores of Lake Mistassini in the far northern region of Quebec.  It was at least a 10 hour drive north from Montreal to the Reservations.  So during that summer, Eva and I took a trip north. The scenery changed as we drove further north. The trees seemed smaller and stunted due to the extreme weather. And as we drove along the highway, swarms of locust had arrived before us and many of the trees were without leaves and the highway was littered with dead locust.

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We finally arrived at Lake Mistassini, the largest fresh water lake in Quebec and home of one of the largest Cree communities. I learned about what it was like for Eva to grow up on the reservation. Diapers for the children were made from the moss growing along the shores of Lake Mistassini. And the children grew older they were separated from their families and sent away to a residential school system. The children were uprooted from their families and sent to a school so they could be indoctrinated with another culture instead of their family history.

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Lake Mistassini was beautiful.  At times it seemed as if you were floating in the clouds because you could only see the cloud reflections in the lake and the shore had disappeared from sight. The beauty of the lake left me in awe.

One Comment on “Experiencing the culture of the Quebecois

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