When I lived in Canada some years ago, we’d often check the Weather Channel to see what sort of a day was ahead. Yes, that’s right, a Weather Channel – a TV channel devoted entirely to weather conditions and forecasts. They were very comprehensive reports too, with temperatures for the morning, afternoon, evening and overnight, percentage likelihood of rain, humidex, and numerous other weather-related info. Can you imagine an Aussie weather channel? How boring would that be: “Right now it’s sunny. Tomorrow it’ll be sunny. On the weekend it’ll be, you guessed it, sunny“. Every six months or so you might get, “Tomorrow will be mainly sunny with a chance of a shower in the afternoon“. Then it’ll be back to sun for another six months. I know you Canadians reckon the Aussie weather is great, but four distinct seasons would be nice occasionally.
Anyway, that’s not what I’m on about. The point of this story is that the Weather Channel reported conditions in the Gaspe. At first I thought they were talking about “Gas Bay” and reckoned it must be a place where they…I don’t know …mine gas or something. Then I saw it written as “Gaspe”, then saw it on a map and learned it was a peninsula. Ever since then I’ve wanted to visit, because I like the way the name “Gaspe” rolls off the tongue. Don’t know why, I just do. Call me a mental case. Whatever.
Here’s where it is in the big scheme of Canada:
And here is where I’ve been over the days since leaving the Santa campground:
Now that you’ve all finished squinting at my itty-bitty little map, which probably tells you bugger all really, I’ll give you a bit of a rundown on this lovely place. It’s all part of Quebec, as you may have guessed, and the route I took, along the coast of the peninsula, is dotted with numerous small villages – all beautiful, and all characterised by quaint little houses, a few shops and gas stations, and plenty of parks, trees, and views. There is very little commercialisation, i.e. not a lot of McDonald’s, Tim’s, Walmart, etc. I loved the place! Here are some pics; it was like this pretty much all the way:
Lots of motorcycles out and about:
This photo was taken from a lookout near one of the towns. Beautiful eh:
Great roads too. Lots of curves and twisties:
However, there is more to the Gaspe than great roads and nice little villages. The area, well, the south shore where I stayed, is populated by Acadian people, and there is a very interesting story here. Now, any Acadians reading this, please excuse if I get some of the history wrong or not quite right, but I’m going from memory and also there is this annoying sound coming out of the fridge in my room, and it’s buggering up my concentration. It sounds like a radio turned down low, but I know it can’t be that. It’s not the motor. It’s just something annoying. So bear with me.
I stopped at a town called Bonaventure, and stayed the night there, because I wanted to visit the Acadian Museum. What an interesting place! I learned lots from the very helpful bilingual attendant, Jenny. Here’s the museum and the area inside where Jenny gave me a rundown on the history of the Acadians:
The Acadians have had a pretty tumultuous history. It goes something like this: in the 1600s a group of French people colonised what is now Nova Scotia, but was then known as “Acadia”. They settled there and lived peacefully for quite some time, and also had cordial relationships with the local First Nations people, the Micmaq. So everything was going pretty swimmingly until, like for so many nations in the new world (including Australia) the Pommies came along. By the following century, France was at war with the Poms. This put the Acadians in a difficult position, because the Poms, who had by now taken possession of Acadia, wanted them to sign an oath of allegiance to Britian. The Acadians refused, not wanting to fight fellow French citizens. So the Poms burned down their homes, took over their land, and kicked them out. They were scattered all over, some down to the States (and not all States agreed to take them), some back to France, and some to other parts. Lots of Acadians died during all this. Over the years, though, Acadians returned to the eastern provinces, and some of their descendants live in this part of the Gaspe Peninsula. In fact, Bonaventure seemed to be primarily Acadian. This house, like many of them, has an Acadian flag out the front and “250” signifying 250 years since Bonaventure was established:
Here’s another house, nice eh:
Anyway, back to the museum. I learned that the Acadians came from this part of France:
There were lots of displays of Acadian culture, the tools they used, and the insides of their homes. Here are a few pics:
These miniature houses were also in the museum, and are recreations of Bonaventure 60-70 years ago. An amazing amount of work has gone into these; this building required 16,000 shingles!
What an amazing history eh? They must have been a tough bunch, and tenacious too. I’m glad they returned to the area and settled. The museum was very interesting and I learned plenty that day.
I stayed the night in this hotel – nice and personalised, not like some of those bland hotel chain places:
View from the hotel, up and down the shore:
Up the road, this place!
I know what you’re all thinking: it’s a gas station. So what? But this is no ordinary gas station; within is found the best coffee in the world, the best I’ve ever tasted, better even than Tim’s, which is definitely saying something. Well…it used to have the best coffee in the world. Upon seeing the place, I practically ran up there for a coffee, but alas the display didn’t say “Irving coffee”. It said some other brand. I was distrustful of it and stayed away. Maybe Irving coffee went broke or something 😦
And so now I am in Campbellton, which is a town in northern New Brunswick. I’m off to Fredericton tomorrow 🙂 More later blogaddicts, and thanks for reading.