20080724 A day of stops

July 24th, 2008 by scott

The boat totally changed this morning. Becky awoke at 5:45am to an onrush of people. We docked at Natashquan at 5:30 am, and a large influx of people joined the boat. There are more than double the number of people now, and many of them do not have cabins. Last night, there were only a few of us that didn’t have cabins. It looks like tonight the boat will be full of people sleeping on chairs, benches, and floors. Tonight we will squeeze into the space that Becky had to herself last night.

The influx of people has been an interesting experience. There are a number of native Canadian’s, as well as people from Newfoundland, and people from Quebec. There is a greater mix of languages being spoken and interesting accents.

We reduced our footprint on C deck from two tables to one table, and the second table was grabbed by Thomas and Isabel, from Quebec City who are hitchhiking from Sept Iles around through the Maritimes. They’re interesting people, and have been fun to get to know. Isabelle is a music teacher, and will be starting in her first school in the fall. Thomas is taking Creative Writing at University, and it wouldn’t surprise us to hear his name again as a playwright in a few years.

Our first stop was at Natashquan from 5:30 to 7:45am. Becky got up for long enough to take a quick look around and noticed that the landscape had changed dramatically from last night. The trees are much shorter, the landscape much flatter. It is reminiscent of Newfoundland, but the colours are different.

At 10:45 we stopped at Kegaska for a quick hour and half stop. We had enough time to walk around the shoreline and make our way up to the general store (Epicere CJ’s). We were surprised to hear the lady running the store speaking English. Her name is Cheryl (likely the C in CJ’s) and The community appeared to have more English speakers than French speakers.

After lunch the boat stopped in La Romaine. Since we were stopping for 3 hours, we took our bikes off and went for a ride. We rode through town and up to the airport. This was the first of the towns we saw that segregated the white community from the native community. Most of where we rode was through the native community. We waved and everyone waved back and smiled. Several of the children tried to ask us questions, but unfortunately they spoke French so we were unable to communicate with them :(. It was kind of sad riding through town – the people smiled at us but otherwise did not appear to be happy. We also observed significant obesity, and saw only junk food in the depanneur – a significant contrast to other depanneurs we have visited.

We stopped at a depanneur to get a snack. As we ate our snacks every dog in town appeared hoping to get a treat too. One of the puppies decided to take a nap on Becky’s back tire. We saw on cute little girl riding a tricycle carrying a little puppy dog. Becky asked if she could take a picture and the girl posed and smiled. Unfortunately for the puppy, the girl soon dropped it and rode over it :(. When we left the puppy was doing OK, but not happy about the prospect of another bicycle ride.

There was some spontaneous Quebecois folk singing on the upper deck shortly after dark, which was fun to observe (and try to sing along with). Someone had a guitar, another person had an accordion, and Isabel led some of the singing. It was neat music

At midnight we got into Harrington Harbour, and they had a big lantern-light tour of the town, highlighting its history. This was part of CoastFest 2008, which is celebrated by all of the lower north shore communities, but this was the only piece we will be around for. All the streets in town are boardwalks or granite, and the transport is ATV or snowmobile. (And a couple of forklifts on the wharf). We had a chance to meet Jacques Cartier (who spoke French with a bit of a Newfoundland accent) and Margeuritte – a French noblewoman who was marooned here by her Uncle with the sailor who had become her lover. Good fun, and well worth staying up for (and not just for the molasses cookies and bakeapple tarts at the end).

Harrington Harbour was the site used to film La Grande Seduction, which seems to be quite an interesting film. They have a co-op fish processing plant, but not much else in the way of industry. The forests nearby were infested with spruce budworm a few years back, and there’s little left. The community has had a stable population (280) for over 50 years, which they are very proud of. When asked about real-estate, the mayor said that there were no houses for sale and that there was no land, so there wasn’t any room (or necessarily any desire) for growth.

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