13775 10th Avenue, Saint-Georges, Quebec, Canada
November 2003 – May 2004
It was a three day car drive for Doggie and me from South Turkey Creek in North Carolina to Saint-Georges in Quebec. Doggie despised travelling in a vehicle. He climbed into the back seat, lay down, and for the next three days of travel never once looked out the window.
Neighbour Jo, one of the six daughters of Bascom Lamar Lunsford, belonged to the Automobile Association. She not only armed me with maps, but also with a list of every hotel and motel along the way that would allow dogs.
We left mid-afternoon. I had planned the first section of the journey but grew tired with all the last minute rushing around. I stopped earlier than intended. Were we in Tennessee? I can’t remember. We came upon a large hotel. I enquired if they allowed for dogs, and they did. They gave us a room. Unbeknown to me there was a huge (and I mean huge) American Dog Show based at the hotel that week. There were dogs everywhere all manicured to perfection. Here was shaggy, unclipped Doggie amidst them. The head judge for the event was apparently a New Zealander. I must be the spouse – “And what a beautiful dog you have!” Doggie was never so pampered by owners of refined poodles and distinguished Chihuahuas scrambling for favour!
The house rented in Saint-Georges, the town of work, was owned by a friend of the boss. He was very rich, spoke immaculate English, and had an Irish surname. I asked about the surname, because Irish names are not uncommon in French-speaking Quebec. He said years ago the British brought boatloads of orphaned Irish children and dropped them off all along the east coast of North America.
The house looked smallish on the outside but inside it was huge. There were five or six bedrooms, two living rooms, a gigantic billiards room (complete with billiard table), and an entrance parlour bigger than most houses I’d ever lived in! It had an enormous boiler to heat the house, which was just as well because we were there for the winter and Quebec winters can be chilly!
The house was furnished. It had beds but no bedding. Work was at a textile mill so we had piles of offcuts, and I used them to sew bedspreads – a skill I didn’t know I had!
My French was zilch. I used to smoke and would joke that I could speak French because I would go into a French-speaking shop, say “Marlboro”, and they would hand over a packet of cigarettes. Over time my French stayed remarkably inadequate.
It was during this time that Eric slipped in an icy carpark and broke an ankle. Upon slipping, the car keys in hand flew into the air and went splat into the icy river we were next to. We went to the hospital and I explained in anglais équitable what had happened. The woman in charge gabbled away to the nurse, saying in French, “Bleed these foreigners for every penny they’ve got.” Unbeknown to her, Eric was from France!
Saint-Georges is a lovely town and is the largest in the Chaudière-Appalaches region of Quebec. The Chaudière River flows through the town. I could have lived there permanently!
We were in Saint-Georges for only six months before work called us to uproot and move to the small village of Saint-Victor.