Wednesday, 18 June 2008

On my visit to a 400 year old city

The weather today was par for the course of this trip, a mixture of sun, cloud and rain. The best I can say for the rain is that it likely kept the crowds to a minimum. As it was, many sites were beset by school groups on their end of the year trip. Rather like I did so many years ago. Now that I think of it, at least one of the school trips featured copious amounts of rain.

I visited the Plains of Abraham where they were busy setting up stages for Céline Dion's concert and related activities. The fortifications were fun as always, but the gem of the day was taking a guided tour of the Château Frontenac. The woman giving the tour was dressed in a reasonable facsimile of victorian dress and "claimed" to have been at the opening as a girl. I was amused to hear that when the hotel was requisitioned without explanation in 1943, one of the rumours that was circulating was that the Pope was leaving Rome because of the war and would be setting up shop in Quebec city. In reality, it was because of the first Quebec War Conference.

The afternoon was dominated by waiting for my slot to visit a 400th anniversary exhibition about the people passing through Quebec. I had heard that one part of the exhibition featured the second baby born this year (among others) in the city, namely my cousin Liam. Unfortunately, that part the exhibit choose that time to reboot itself and didn't work. The exhibit was mostly oral history which is not my favourite way to experience history.

The streets and buildings of Old Quebec are truly different from anything else I have experienced in North America. Old Montreal doesn't hold a candle in comparison. Of course, you could argue that Quebec is (and has been) the sterile museum city whereas Montreal represents a much more dynamic, constantly self-renewing city.

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