The update for the final leg of the trip will  be broken into 2 parts:

It took a while to get the last couple of newsletters out because we had to get ourselves and our gear back to Calgary, get somewhat settled back in, Jude started preschool, and Geoff headed back to work.  Needless to say, the trip updates took a backseat for a couple of weeks.

In the interest of keeping the update to a reasonable size, I have split the last leg of our trip into 2 newsletters.  The big arrival into Quebec City will follow in the next day or two.

Ships

At first, we were a little nervous about the huge freighters passing us on the St. Lawrence.  Once we realized the wake coming from them was similar to large, rolling ocean swell, we relaxed into “ship watching.”  We spent hours talking about what the ships were carrying, where they were going, and what the names mean.  Jude thought it was better than TV!

It looks like this ship is coming right for us, however, it was actuallly anchored in place.

It looks like this ship is coming right for us, however, it was actuallly anchored in place.

The St. Lawrence was especially busy around Montreal.

The St. Lawrence was especially busy around Montreal.

This picture shows the volume of water being pushed by the ships.  It creates a large, gentle, rolling wake for us.

This picture shows the volume of water being pushed by the ships. It creates a large, gentle, rolling wake for us.

Other Exciting Watercraft

We saw this Canadian Coast Guard boat outside of Montreal.  Jude thought this was exciting because he has one in his toy box!

We saw this Canadian Coast Guard boat outside of Montreal. Jude thought this was exciting because he has one in his toy box!

This hovercraft blasted past us just before Trois-Rivieres.    It was another exciting moment for Jude.

This hovercraft blasted past us just before Trois-Rivieres. It was another exciting moment for Jude.

Sights on the St. Lawrence

We were paddling a bend just before Portneuf when we kept hearing the National Anthems of various countries blasted from somewhere.  At first, we thought it was coming from the ships themselves, we then figured out that it was coming from shore.  Later on, Ben learned from a local that there is a woman watching the ships go by with binoculars – once she can tell which country they are from, she blasts the National Anthem as they pass.  It was really neat!

A lovely sunset as the tide comes in.

A lovely sunset at Portneuf as the tide came in.

A freighter passes by as the sun is going down.  We really enjoyed watching the ships pass by.  Conversation always turned to what they may be carrying and where it may be heading.

A freighter passes near Cap a la Roche as the sun is going down. Jude would usually alert us when a ship was passing camp, then we would stand and watch.  We really enjoyed it, as conversation always turned to what they may be carrying and where it may be heading.

The banks got higher and gave way to rolling hills as we got closer to Quebec City.

The banks got higher and gave way to rolling hills as we got closer to Quebec City.

Sailing!

Everyone may be tired of hearing about how much we love our Spirit Sail, however, it is by far, still one of our favourite pieces of equipment.  The prevailing west winds helped push us many miles along the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers.  We’ve inserted this picture from Isabelle Chartrand because it is one of the very few pictures taken of us with the sail up.

A mast step (mount for the sail) is attached to the thwart.  The v-shaped sail is held in place by fiber-glass poles (think tent poles).  It is very safe because when the wind is too strong, it will bend forward and “dump” the wind out.

Sailing the Lachine Canal.  Photo by Isabelle Chartrand

Sailing the Lachine Canal. Photo by Isabelle Chartrand

Daily Canoe and Camp Life with Kids

If you look closely in the background, you will see the skyline of Montreal. Rane has quite an affection for his stuffed monkey. He’s tossed it into “La Fleuve” multiple times. Luckily, we’ve been able to fish it out in time. It would be a miserable few days for him without it!

After shedding his lifejacket after a diaper change, Rane felt so light and free that he pulled himself up on the seat for the first time!

Jude LOVES lego. It provides him with hours of entertainment in both the tent and canoe. It is a great addition to the toy box.

These two monkeys can’t wait to get into the tent when we get to camp. Jude rolls his cars down the thermarests, and “Ranezilla” finds ways to crash it all down.

There is something about water passing by the side of the canoe that draws a child’s hand into it.

Camping and Canoeing the St. Lawrence Wetlands

The St. Lawrence River is famous for its wetlands.  According to Environment Canada, Lac St. Pierre, in particular, is home to the largest concentration of marshes and swamps throughout the St. Lawrence Valley.  Sometimes we would have to drag the canoe through the reeds to get to shore.  We generally had mucky footing to look forward to after that.  It’s beauty makes it all totally worth it!

Lac St. Pierre is a large, shallow lake on the St. Lawrence River.  It can be tricky in windy conditions because the wind across the shallow water causes short, choppy waves very quickly.  In addition, the marshy areas along the sides make it difficult to pull off.

Lac St. Pierre is a large, shallow lake on the St. Lawrence River. It can be tricky in windy conditions because the wind across the shallow water causes short, choppy waves very quickly. In addition, the marshy areas along the sides make it difficult to pull off.

Campsite near St. Sulpice

We were fortunate that the Landreville family offered us a place to camp for the night in St-Sulpice, QC.

Loading canoe St. Sulpice

Jude is patiently waiting to head out. As soon as the canoe is put in, he begins asking if he can get in.

One of our campsites on Lac St. Pierre quickly turned into a mud-bog after a good, soaking rain.

At least the rain kept the majority of bugs away!

It is pretty among the islands on the St. Lawrence.  At least the rain kept the majority of bugs away!

Rain or shine, Geoff gets up to make us a delicious, hot breakfast.  On this particular morning, we ate in the tent.

Rain or shine, Geoff gets up to make us a delicious, hot breakfast. On this particular morning, we ate in the tent.

It was a nasty, mucky mess taking down camp and packing the canoe.  Rain gear only keeps you from getting soaked - there is no such thing as staying bone dry.

It was a nasty, mucky mess taking down camp and packing the canoe. Rain gear only keeps you from getting soaked – there is no such thing as staying bone dry.

Tides

It may be surprising for everyone to learn that the tides on the St. Lawrence river begin around Trois-Rivieres where they are about 1 feet.  In Quebec City, the tides are 20 feet!

Jude is pictured below playing on the beach during high tide near Donnacona:

Jude is playing on the beach at High Tide.

Jude is playing on the beach at High Tide.

When we came back the next day to paddle, the tide had gone out….way out!

There is a flat, rock shelf that leads out to the shipping channel.

There is a flat, rock shelf that leads out to the shipping channel (the line of rocks you can see in the distance).

Friends join us to paddle the homestretch!

We have spent countless days with Ben and Deb Guerard in the wilderness camping and running.  We used to train for ultramarathon races by running up and down Rocky Mountain trails on evenings and weekends.

Ben Guerard has been involved in one way or another with every big portage we’ve done.  He helped Geoff carry the canoe over the Rockies and flew out to lend a hand for the Grand Portage as well.

We were thrilled when Deb, Ben, and their 3 year old daughter, Alex, decided to fly out to support us on our last leg of the trip.  Aside from being tons of fun, they were very helpful and resourceful.  They found us places to camp or a B&B to stay in, entertained the kids while we packed and made arrangements for Quebec City, they even alternated hopping in the canoe and paddling with us!  What a wonderful way to spend the last week of the trip.

Deb is pictured here paddling at the beginning of a nasty headwind while the tide is coming in...not exactly a relaxing day on the water.  She did great!

Deb is pictured here paddling at the beginning of a nasty headwind while the tide is coming in…not exactly a relaxing day on the water. She did great!

Ben and Jude are both working hard here.  The tide was also against us that afternoon.  Jude has started paddling a little bit every day.  Love it!

Ben and Jude are both working hard here. The tide was also against us that afternoon. Jude has started paddling a little bit every day. Love it!

Media

CBC Radio has been a constant companion on our trip from the beginning – we are huge fans.  We were honoured when Reg Sherren from the CBC National contacted us about doing a piece on our trip.

We were nervous at the start, but he and Warren (cameraman) turned out to be easy going, great with kids, and a lot of fun.  It didn’t take them long to get into the spirit of the trip – they not only helped find us a place to pull off for the night (Jean-Yves and Nicole’s house), they also brought dinner and wine too!  We had a lovely evening with everyone.  Jean-Yves and Nicole invited us to stay inside where it was warm and dry while it poured rain outside.

Reg and Warren standing on the dock after Pierre dropped them off at our camp.

Reg and Warren standing on the dock after Pierre dropped them off at our camp.

Below are the links to the story:

Canada by Canoe – The National by Reg Sherren, introduced by Peter Mansbridge:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/ID/2403992746/

Online Extra:  The Trouble with Kids – The National:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/TV%20Shows/The%20National/ID/2403816960/

(pay attention at the end of the clip where Rane offers his thoughts on the trip)

Thank you!

  •  We were sitting on a bench at the public dock eating ice cream and talking about where we were going to camp for the night.  We hadn’t seen any unpopulated spots to camp so far, so we decided to grab dinner at a roadside stand and then continue on.  Robert Landreville drove up and started asking people if they were the canoers.  His wife, Caroline, had been at the dock earlier with their kids and had spoken with us.  He offered to let us camp in his yard.  It was only a few minutes paddle away.  Robert , Caroline, Paul-Olivier, and Florence were very welcoming.  Robert helped unload our canoe, and Caroline showed me where I could bath Rane.  Paul-Olivier and Jude played together despite not being able to understand one another – goes to show that playing transcends language barriers!

Robert Landreville at St. Sulpice

  • Jean-Francois offered us a place to stay that same night, but we decided to take the place nearest because it was getting late.  Rita had called him to ask his permission.  We really appreciate the offer, as there is nothing worse than being stuck without a campsite.
  • Pierre, from Roger Gladu’s outfitters on Ile Saint-Ignace, was very helpful in finding us a place to camp for the night.  After we tried in vain to find something around the outfitters, he suggested a place a few kilometres down the lake on an island.  His help went one step further – he drove Reg and Warren from CBC back and forth in a boat to our campsite on Ile Dupas so they could get some footage of us setting up camp.

    Reg and Warren standing on the dock after Pierre dropped them off at our camp.

    Reg and Warren standing on the dock after Pierre dropped them off at our camp.

  •  We didn’t catch their names, but we are grateful to 2 kayakers that answered questions about the stone weir between Ile Saint-Ignace and Ile Ronde.  They were right, there was a nice “V” to paddle through safely.
  • Jean-Yves Marcotte and Nicole Coutu and their family made our day.  It was late and threatening rain when we arrived at their home near Yamachiche, QC.  Reg Sherren had knocked on their door asking about places to camp.  Reg has great people instincts – he picked the perfect place.  Jean-Yves hauled our canoe through the marsh to their lawn then invited us into their home for the night.  Nicole took the kids inside to play and eat so that we could actually eat a whole, warm meal without interruption.  Only a mother of 3 could understand how much of a gift that is!  We had a lovely visit and thoroughly enjoyed our time there.  It was as though we had known each other for years.

 

Reg and Warren brought some delicious chinese food.  We are feasting on Jean-Yves picnic table.

Reg and Warren brought some delicious chinese food. We are feasting on Jean-Yves picnic table.

Nicole took Rane inside and fed him dinner while we enjoyed eating a WHOLE meal without interruption.

Nicole took Rane inside and fed him dinner while we enjoyed eating a WHOLE meal without interruption.

Jude was in his glory - 3 boys all focussed on playing with him!

Jude was in his glory – 3 boys all focussed on playing with him!

  • La Marina de Trois-Rivieres gave us a great deal on storing our canoe while we had a rest day in Trois-Rivieres.  In addition, they also stored our huge pack, lifejackets, and paddles.  We really appreciated their help because we didn’t have to worry about our canoe and gear while we were there.
  • A nasty headwind that kicked up 3 -foot chop forced us to pull into the beach in front of Odette Desilets house near Donnacona, QC.  She was incredibly helpful in offering us a place to store our canoe or even camp for the night.  She and her husband, Francois, sent us off the next day with full bellies of homemade soup and sandwiches for lunch.

Odette Desilets and Francois

  • Gaston Matte is Odette’s neighbour.  He saw that the tide was way out and offered to carry our gear out in his Gator.  It saved us a lot of “recreational portaging.”  Thank you!

Gaston Matte

 

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