Tag Archives: Quebec

My Neck of the Woods: Chapter 6

594 Rang Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Victor, Quebec

May 2004 – February 2006

What can be said about the house at 594 Rang Sainte-Catherine? It was a fairly new building, but constructed using plans of an early Quebec settler’s house. Of course it had every modern facility. It was set on seventeen acres of woods and lawns, with tracks through the forest. The trees were mainly maples, firs, and pine. Outside the sitting room window was a large lake with trout. Near the lake was a maple syrup building where maple syrup could be processed once extracted from the trees.

We dug a large vegetable garden. What a productive garden it was! With the freezer full there was no need to buy vegetables over winter.

From the fallen pines Eric chopped up firewood for winter.

We bought a ride-on mower and mowed the substantial lawns and the tracks through the woods.

The wild life was fantastic. Herds of deer would pass through. An elk came to sniff the firewood. Radio warnings would be given of bears on the loose. The trout in the lake would crowd to the edge for food. How comfy it was to snuggle up in bed at night and hear packs of wolves out on a mission. It’s not the howling of wolves that causes the spine to tingle; it’s the wolves chattering. What are they talking about? Where are they going? What things are planned?

Doggie was getting old and more comfortable in his ways. We though he could do with a companion. We went to the animal rescue place and fell in love with the only dog that wasn’t barking at us, but was standing on his hind legs as if pleading to be taken. He had been the most abused dog that Animal Rescue had seen in years. Of course we took him. He was a big dog, and we called him Rusty. Doggie understood English; Rusty understood French. The two got on well. They both had free-range of the large property. Later, it was the deer hunting season and one evening Rusty didn’t return. We never saw him again. We think he may have been shot by hunters.

On weekends we would often go for a drive around the countryside. On this particular day we went to Thetford Mines. And there it was! A little puppy in the pet shop window!

We brought her home and called her Sedona. Doggie’s days were filled with teaching Sedona the tricks of being a dog. He would take her out in the snow way beyond the house, at a huge distance, and send her home on her own. It was fascinating to watch. The next day he would take her to the other side and do the same. He taught her to bark at squirrels up trees, and toss a ball, and even to eat the wild raspberries that grew in the woods. He taught her to lie in the snow with only the eyes showing.

The summers weren’t overly long, but were delightful. Winter would come with a vengeance. Usually there were at least three weeks at minus 40 Celsius. If you’re going to have a winter you might as well have one! Getting up at 4.30 am to snow-blow the driveway to get to work was a common activity. Once, a big storm came and the snow was piled higher that the garage door. It was far too much snow for our snow blower. Eric stopped the snow plough on the road as it passed. Do you reckon you could do our driveway? If the driver hadn’t been kind we’d still be there with shovels.

All things must end. I developed chronic heart disease. We would have to go to New Zealand for treatment. Eric resigned from work. We found homes each for Doggie and Sedona.  I can still see the little boy in Saint-Georges with Doggie on the lead taking “the big teddy bear” to show grandpa.

We sold our mower and snow-blower. We sold the furniture. We sold the good car, and kept the old car to take us to the train station in Quebec. The train would take us to Montreal where we’d catch a plane to Los Angeles. As it turned out we decided, once we were on our road, to drive to Montreal ourselves where we sold the car for $100!

The early morning was frozen. Our driveway was a sheet of ice. We slid down the drive in the car to the road like a skier. The last phone call at this delightful place had come in the middle of the night. It was a brother in New Zealand. It had been sudden. My mother had died.

My Neck of the Woods: Chapter 5

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.

Music 3: Sleeping puppy

3puppy

I had a little puppy called Sedona. When I left Quebec, rather quickly because my mother was dying in New Zealand, I advertised “Free to a Good Home” in the local paper.

A woman came and picked her up. She phoned that evening to say they had been playing in the back yard in the snow. The puppy seemed happy with her new home!

I often wonder how Sedona’s doing, and if she’s alright.

Of course she is!

Listen to the music HERE.