Bienvenue! Welcome to Canada! Visiting Montreal and Yamachiche
91 Days Looping
1,509.2 Nautical Miles Total (1,736.8 Statute Miles)
153.3 Nautical Miles This Week
21.1 Hours Underway This Week
9.0 NMph Average Speed
7 Locks This Week, 36 Total Locks
Monday – 8th – 31.4 NM – To: Ogdensberg, NY
We had breakfast at the resort in Alexandria Bay on Monday morning, then got the boat ready and pulled out at 11:00. We were expecting to stay on a wall with no power so we were not in a huge rush to get there. Ogdensburg is the last major town in New York, and for us in the USA where we could get our mail forwarded, so we were stopping there before we crossed into Canada.
On the way up to Ogdensburg, we passed the castles that we had visited on Sunday. Boldt Castle as we pulled out of the marina, and Singer Castle about 10 miles upriver. It was a great day, and we were able to get a few more pictures of the castles as well as some more stunning homes along the seaway. We passed a few interesting ships, a schooner, and another freighter. You can see the huge scratches on the freighters from where they go into the locks. These ships have only inches to spare in many and the sides show it! We can see all the scrapes and paint on the lock walls as we go through as well. So far, no scratches from locks for us!
The River is about a mile wide in this area, and it is on the Canadian side on the left, and US on the right. The US side is very agricultural with some large farms and grain silos. On the Canadian side it is more built up, we passed Brockville, Ontario Canada which had some very large Adirondack chairs and a jet in their waterfront park.
We also went by a bird sanctuary on an island where the channel narrows and you have to get pretty close to it. It was amazing to see all the birds, but the SMELL WAS AWFUL! It looks like there used to be some structure on the island, but if the birds moved in, I’d have moved out! On one of our tours, the guide mentioned that birds taking over islands can be a problem because their guano is so acidic that it kills all of the trees and plants.
We arrived in Ogdensburg at 3:00 and boated up to the marina and the wall we wanted to stay at. Many of these marinas are run by the towns and they don’t have a “dockmaster” as such, just a clerk “burdened” with the task of dealing with boaters (and happy to tell you how overworked they are), Ogdensburg is just such a place. There is no one to call, so you just show up and it’s first come first serve. The “Wall” was in an area of a park that had been damaged by the recent flooding and was fenced off. We were still able to tie up and get off the boat but had to walk around piles of sand and avoid the police department training their bloodhound. I went to the town office to check in and was told that we could not stay there due to insurance reasons. I was going to ask about moving into some space that we could fit in the marina, but the clerk launched into a lecture about how dealing with boats was not her job, yada yada yada, so I didn’t bother and went back to the boat. We had a backup plan to anchor out if there was an issue at the marina and had been watching for suitable locations. As it happened, there is a wide protected sandbar about 200 feet offshore from the marina. While we were dealing with the town, some local boaters anchored there and were having bbqs and swimming.
We cruised around the area to check depths and as we passed a shipyard that had lots of the blades used on wind turbines getting ready to be sent by barge. It was neat to see how really massive they are on the ground. We cruised in a large circle back to the area across from the marina, and it had plenty of water 10-20 feet, so we dropped anchor and spent the rest of the day on the boat watching some ships and ducks go by. Right across the river on the Canadian side were some large industrial complexes and the “Fort Wellington Historic Site” and “The Battle of The Windmill” historic site, and Unfortunately, we couldn’t land there in the boat, and it was too far to take the dinghy.
It turned out to be a great anchorage, somewhat protected from the main river, and there was a 3-knot current that kept us oriented in one direction so we didn’t have to worry about swinging during the night. Because of the current, we watched carefully for the first few hours to make sure that the anchor was properly “set” and that it would not drag. We had gotten a good hold and had no problems. (Even when the wind came up during the night, we only moved about 10 ft in either direction and didn’t drag back at all). In the evening we cooked dinner on the grill and then watched the sunset.
Tuesday – 9th – 31.4 NM – To: Massena, NY, Robert Moses State Park
On Tuesday we were expecting our mail to be delivered to a UPS Store around noon. We had breakfast, then took the dinghy down off the boat. Taking the dingy down, involves un-strapping it, removing the cover, then lowering it from the top deck to the water with a winch that I control from the top deck, while Brenda grabs the boat and ties it off once it’s in the water. We’ve done it a few times now and it only takes us about 10 minutes.
After lowering the boat, I noticed that the deck under where the boat is stored was covered in dead bugs and dirt, so we got out the hose, and started to wash it down. Brenda suddenly ran down the stairs and called to me. A boat had gone by and rocked us a bit, which caused her (girl) knots to come undone and the dingy was floating away in the 3-knot current! Brenda tried to grab for the rope but missed it, and by the time I got down, it was too far away to reach with the boat hook. So… time for that swimming test! I dove in and swam after the dinghy. It wasn’t too far away, and I was able to catch it and swam back upstream pulling it behind me to the boat. Our mast camera caught the action!
After drying off, we got into the dinghy, started the engine, and headed for shore. We don’t run dingy that often, and the engine was running rough and quit. I need to learn to let it warm up more before taking off. I tried to re-start a few times but it would not catch. With the current, we didn’t want to get carried too far downstream, so I grabbed the oars and rowed to shore. We tied up the dinghy at the marina dock and then walked up to the Remington Museum.
Fredric Remington was a prolific sculpture and painter of western scenes. You’ve probably seen his life-like sculptures of cowboys and Indians riding horses. Remington was born not far from Ogdensburg and lived there as a child. When he died in 1906, his wife moved to Ogdensburg to be near family and brought a large portion of his private collection with her. On her death, a foundation was set up to manage a museum of his work in the large Victorian home that she lived in. We walked around the museum for about an hour and were as fascinated with the architecture of the building as we were with the art!
At 11:30 I got a message that our mail package had been delivered, so we took an Uber to the UPS store, picked it up, then back to the dinghy. When I tried to start the engine, it caught after a couple of pulls, and we let it warm up properly before zipping across the river to the boat. When we got back to the boat, we opened the package and one of the items was our Glass Blowing projects from Corning!
By 1:30 we had the dinghy back on the boat, pulled up the anchor, and headed back up the river. We ran at full throttle to make up some time, and our large wake was popular with the Jet Skiers who followed us for a few miles jumping over our wake. Just above Ogdensburg, we reached the Iroquois Lock, which was our first BIG lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway. We got there and tied up to the waiting dock, called in and they said that they would open as soon as an LNG tanker went through. I wonder why they wouldn’t put us in an enclosed space with a Liquid Natural Gas Tanker?!?? We waited about 30 minutes, and they let us in. We were joined in the lock by two other boats, and dropped a mind-blowing 4 inches! I think it’s more of a toll booth than a lock. We paid $25 to go through. Actually, the lock is more of a flood control lock, and because of the high water, it’s almost a sail through.
Just before the St Lawrence river crosses into Canada fully rather than being split down the middle, there are two large commercial locks that the big freighters use. Because these are fully commercial locks, pleasure crafts are a low priority and you can wait for hours to be put through. Rather than risk running out of sunlight waiting for the locks, we stopped at the Robert Mase State Park, which is right on the NY/Canada border that is less than a mile from the lock. (To get to the state park by car, you go through a tunnel that runs UNDER the lock! )
The marina there is small and mostly for smaller boats, there is a section with some larger boats, but they limit access to that part of the marina to boats under 36′. They had us tie up to the end of one of the T-Docks, and aside from not having a power hookup, it was very nice. We walked around the park and looked at the large dam that the locks give us a path around, then had dinner on the boat, and ran the generator for a while to cool the boat down until the sunset.
Wednesday – 10th – 18.7 NM – To: Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
We woke up early to get an early start on the locks, we had two locks to do. The “Eisenhower” and “Snell” locks, and knew that there would probably be waits. The ride to the Eisenhower lock was short, only about a mile and we got there about 8:30 AM along with a few other boats that had the same plan. There was a freighter in the lock when we arrived, so we pulled to the side out of the way to wait. The protocol at the large commercial locks is that pleasure craft has to dock at a small dock off to the side of the lock, then call on a special telephone to request passage. They will tell you how long you will have to wait. Also at these phones is a pay station where you pay the toll for passage if you haven’t pre-paid online.
One of the other boats was already on the phone, and after talking to the lock operators, they radioed the rest of us and said that there would be a delay of up to 6 hours as they had to do some repairs. There is no way around it, so you just have to wait. The waiting dock at the Eisenhower lock is small, and there were already a few boats on it, so we dropped the anchor, and waited. While we were waiting, a few other boats arrived and by the time the lock opened at 2:30, there were 7 boats. One of the boats “Rockhopper” was a Beneteau Swift Trawler 50, the next model up in size from ours!
While there was time to kill, I decided that I’d change the oil in the generator as it was due. It’s a pretty easy job, and it killed an hour or so. Some of the other boaters went swimming, washed their boats, or took their dinghies to the shore to walk their dogs. When the lock finally re-opened, we pulled up the anchor, and found that it had set REALLY well! Looks like we pulled up half the water plants and mud in the river! (Side note: We left the mess on the anchor until after the lock, then I had to lay on the bow pulpit and hack it off to get rid of it!)
We all went into the lock for the 38-foot drop. They try to pack in as many pleasure boats as possible, and so you must frequently “raft” or tie onto another boat. The larger boats go against the wall and hold onto the ropes, then smaller boats go alongside and tie to the larger boats. When we went into the locks, Rockhopper was in front of us. They went to the wall, and we were instructed to tie up to them. The drop was pretty easy. Not a lot of current, and we were out of the lock and heading to the Snell lock to repeat the process. We didn’t have to wait at the Snell lock as these two locks are a pair and you must do them in order, so it was right into the lock and again rafted up to Rockhopper for a 45-foot drop.
Because of the delays, we decided to stay in Cornwall, Ontario Canada, rather than traveling another 30 miles to Lachine, a suburb of Montreal. When we exited the Snell lock, we re-joined the main river, which had a 5 to 6-knot current and was very rough, added to that all of the boats tried to make up time and blasting past us causing more waves. Just pass the Snell lock, there is a Native American Reservation. One of their main sources of income is selling fuel to boaters on the river. Because they are a sovereign nation, they don’t have to pay the fuel tax. Diesel is $2.99 a gallon, the cheapest we’ve seen! We pulled up to the fuel dock which was an adventure in a 5-knot current and got tied off. 228 gallons and a bottle of Gatorade later, we were back on the water and headed for Cornwall. We made our official crossing into Canada, raised our yellow quarantine flag, and then double-backed up a side river to Cornwall and Marina 200.
When we pulled into Marina 200, we saw that Rockhopper was there as well. We were directed to a slip and got tied up, then had to make our Canadian Customs phone call to check into Canada. The call was easy! They asked for boat registration information, passport info, asked if we were carrying any firearms or cannabis products (cannabis is legal in Canada, but you are not allowed to bring it across the border), alcohol, and meats, fruits, and vegetables. I gave the information to the pleasant lady, and when I started listing the contents of our fridge and cupboards, she said, “Let’s just call those groceries. Here’s your check-in number.” That’s it! The whole phone call took less than 5 minutes.
Now that we were allowed to set foot on Canadian soil, we walked to the office on the other side of the marina and checked in. The marina is part of a public recreation complex along the river with baseball fields, an indoor swimming center, an ice skating rink, biking and jogging paths, and a Curling center! We walked the 1/2 mile into town and had dinner at the “Schnitzel” house. The food was good, but not like my mom used to make.
Thursday – 11th – 0 NM – In: Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
Our original plan was to move to Lachine in the morning, however, when we checked the weather, there were squall advisories and strong thunderstorms were predicted for the whole day. Because we had some open water to go through, we decided to stay in port. The folks on Rockhopper were going to the same area, and they decided to stay as well.
Since there was not a lot to do in Cornwall, I decided that it would be a good opportunity to change the oil on the engines since I’d just done the generator, and they were due as well. Brenda and I changed into our grubby clothes, pulled up the floor in the salon to make it easier to access the engines, and got to work. Changing the oil on the boat engines is similar to changing the oil in your car, except that you pump the oil out rather than draining it out using a plug. Also, our engines take 4.5 gallons of oil each!
We started the engines and warmed them up to make the oil easier to pump out. We got the first engine empty, tried to take off the oil filter, and my strap wrench snapped. Okay, I remembered seeing an auto-parts store when we went to dinner the night before, so decided to drain the second engine before it cooled, and do the filter later. We started pumping out the second engine, and halfway through the hose popped off and dirty oil sprayed all over the engine compartment, and me. Since this is a family-oriented blog, I’ll not share the string of expletives I uttered, but suffice to say that if there is an oil-pump hell, this one has been well and properly dammed to go there!
I was able to use a smaller wrench to get the filter off of the second engine, and in my anger-enhanced state (thing Incredible Hulk), was able to get the first filter off by stabbing it with a screwdriver and twisting it off. We put the new oil into the engines which as it was cool, was a slow process, then spent 2 hours wiping up the spilled oil and putting the old oil into the empty bottles for disposal. By the time we were done and had the floor put back in, it was after 3:00. We walked over to the marina office, and while Brenda paid for our extra night, I took a shower to get all the sprayed oil off of me. We called the marina in Lachine to confirm our reservation for the next day and were informed that due to flooding, the marina was closed. Oh, my! So, we decided to make the run-up the seaway through two locks to Montreal Old Harbor. We called and they had room for us. Given that we’d had a rough day with the oil change, we decided to walk back to town for dinner.
The day had actually turned out to be pretty nice, it was overcast, but we didn’t get any rain all day. There is a mall between the marina and downtown where the restaurants are, so we walked through the mall checked out a Dollar General type store, and a pharmacy, then headed out the other side to look for somewhere for dinner. Just as we exited the mall, the wind picked up and started blowing leaves and dirt around. We were looking for a Bistro that one of the dockhands suggested, but when we started feeling raindrops, we hightailed it to a burger place we’d seen. It was a good thing we did because we had just sat down when the skies opened up, with high winds, thunder, lightning, and torrential rain!
The burger place turned out to be a gourmet burger place (They have a gold leaf hamburger served with champagne for $1000. (Canadian, so that’s only about $800 in US Dollars). They also have exotic meat burgers as well. We stuck to more traditional fare and the burgers were excellent! When we had finished, the rain had subsided some. We had brought an umbrella just in case, but it was small, so we cut back through the mall, stopped at the dollar store, and picked up a second one for the rest of the walk back to the boat. When we got back, the rain had stopped and there was another double rainbow! I wonder if the northern latitudes we are in cause more doubles than in the south?
Friday – 12th – 68.1 NM – To: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Friday morning we got up early as we had a long day traveling to Montreal. The folks on Rockhopper left at 7:00 to reach the first bridge, which was scheduled they thought for a 10:00 opening, we had read that it would be an 11:00 opening, so after getting a pump-out, we left at 8:00 and back-tracked to the St. Lawrence River, and headed downstream toward Montreal. When we reached the first of the two lift bridges, a large freighter was just coming through, and we were able to sneak under early a bit after it passed. We didn’t see Rockhopper, so we figured that they had been able to do the same. At the next bridge just a few miles downstream, we had to wait 20 minutes and circled with a twin masted schooner. The bridge opened and we went through. Unlike on the ICW, these large commercial bridges and locks don’t respond on the radio to recreational craft. You have to pay attention and watch the lights!
After the two bridges were the Beauharnois lock which connects two lakes that make up the St. Lawrence seaway. As we approached the lock, we saw Rockhopper tied up on the wall waiting along with 6 other boats. Beth from Rockhopper helped us get our lines around a huge bollard, we had just settled down when the schooner we went under the bridge approached, and we heard the signal that they were going to lock us through, so perfect timing!
Going into the lock, we had to raft up, the lock staff was great. They pointed to the wall for the wall boats, dropped the ropes down to them, helped them adjust and get settled, then directed the next round of boats as to who to tie up to. Rockhopper was against the wall, and we have rafted up to them again.
After being dropped 41 feet, we moved down the channel to the second of the locks, rafted back up with Rockhopper, and dropped another 41 feet. On exiting the locks we entered Lake St. Louis and Rockhopper turned toward Ottawa, while we continued across the lake and to the South Shore Canal.
The Saint Lawrence river wraps around eastern Montreal, and there are rapids for several miles. In the 1800’s they built the “Lachine Canal” which ran from Lachine on the South Western end of Montreal, to the “Old Port”. The canal was small, and in 1959 the South Shore Canal was built to handle the larger traffic. The Lachine Canal is open again (parts were filled in during the 1960s and 1970s) but the maximum height is 9 feet so it’s not an option for us. We crossed Lake St. Louis and got our first views of Montreal in the distance. As we approached the South Shore Canal we passed a side river that joins the St. Lawrence River. The water in the St. Lawrence River is very clear, but this side river had lots of mud and silt in it. It was neat to see the clear change where the two water sources meet.
The South Shore Canal has two locks, the St. Catherine lock which drops 30 ft, and the St. Lambert lock which drops 15 ft. There are about 7 miles between the two locks. The canal is fairly narrow in places and has rocky shorelines and makes a big curve. We entered the canal and slowed down to meet the 6-knot speed limit. A mile or so in, a group of 5 or 6 pleasure boats came ripping down the canal, at much more than the 6-knot speed limit and rocked the boat pretty bad. This would be our first experience with what is referred to as the “Quebecois Navy”!
We reached the first lock, tied up to the phone dock, and made our call. The operator said that they would get us through “Soon”. We sat on the boat for an hour, we were watching a large commercial ship on our AIS (like radar) approaching the lock from the other direction. They had to lower the lock for that ship to pass, so we got the go-ahead to enter the lock for the lowering before that ship arrived. We exited the lock and pulled way over to the side of the channel, as the Hinch Spirit passed us. From there it was about 7 miles to the second lock and again we tied up and called in. This time they told us that it would be 90 minutes. There is nowhere to go, so we just sat on the boat and watched the trains go by on the bridge over the lock. About 15 minutes before our “approximate” lock through time, a speed boat came racing up the canal, and right into the lock (which was closed), he made a quick stop! We heard him shouting at the lock operators on the radio. We didn’t understand but the tone was “open the lock, do you know who I am?”, the response was short and terse, and he backed out of the lock, and came over to the dock and tied up.
I think they were watching on the cameras, because as soon as he had finished tying up, the bridges started to lift, and we got the green light to enter the lock. Ha, ha! We had pulled out and were just about to enter the lock when the powerboater cut in front of us and went in first. Welcome to Quebec! The rules on boating courtesy are different here. We thought it was just a few jerks, but it turns out it’s just the way things are done here. When in Rome…..!
After a drop of 30 feet, we were out of the lock. The power boater must have been spoken to in the lock because as he exited, he did the regulated 6 knots for the rest of the canal until we reached the St. Lawrence river again.
We exited the canal and were back in the St. Lawrence river again. The current was incredible! We took a wide loop around the end of an island with an amusement park, and then fought our way upstream. We estimated the current at around 5-6 knots as we were at 75% power which normally gives us 10 knots in still water, and we were only doing about 4.5 knots! Fortunately, the run to the harbor where our marina was is short, only about 3 miles or so, and the harbor is protected from the main river. On the way, we passed a few large ships including the ship which we had seen with engine trouble back a week or so ago.
As pulled into our marina “Port D’Escale Marina (The Old Port Marina)” at just before 7:00 PM, we called them on the radio, but there was no reply. We called again, and there was a stream of French in reply but nothing that sounded like it was for us. It was late so we figured that the marina office might be closed. We saw one of our fellow looper boats “Drift Away” and found an empty slip near them, and tied up. After tying up, we saw people moving around near the office, so I walked over to check-in. The girl in the office said in heavily accented French, “Oh, we heard you call and replied but you didn’t answer.” I asked, “did you reply in French?” “Oh, yes, maybe so,” she says. Anyway, we were in the wrong slip and had to un-tie and move to the other side of the marina.
The marina is very large and sits in an old Quay in the Montreal Old Port area. It’s surrounded on three sides by huge concrete walls about 20 ft high. The docks are very nice and they have a long ramp that you walk up to get to street level. The Old Port area is a big tourist destination and there is a lot going on. Above us on the street side, was a Caribbean food festival with 100 or so vendors in small tents selling food and drinks and playing Caribbean music. (Oh, and as mentioned cannabis is legal in Canada so there was a fair amount of pot smoke mixed in with the smell of chicken cooking on charcoal fires! To our left, was a huge tent where Cirque du Soleil was playing. Just beyond that is a park area with a large Sky Wheel, zip line, and lots of small shops and food trucks. When you come up off the ramp into the waterfront, there is a short path across railroad tracks and you reach the main Old Port area which is mostly stone buildings from the 1800 and early 1900s that now house every manner of shops and restaurants. The main street goes up a hill about 1/4 mile to Notre Dame Basilica, and several impressive government buildings.
We had gotten a recommendation for dinner from the folks on “Drift Away”, so walked up to the first narrow side street, and down half a block to the “3 Brasseurs” a microbrewery and restaurant for dinner. The food was excellent and the beer even better! After dinner, we were exhausted from the long day on the water so we just walked back to the boat, took some photos of the night skyline, and went to bed.
Saturday – 13th – 0 NM – In: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
We slept in a bit on Saturday morning. Our plan for the day was to do some sightseeing in the morning, then go out to the Airport to pick up a rental car in the afternoon. When we did our Ancestry.com family tree, we found out that Brenda’s family founded a town just north of Montreal called Yamachiche back in the early 1700s. We’ve been planning a trip there since we decided to do our Loop trip and it’s one of the reasons we came to Montreal.
We walked up the long ramp from the marina and then walked along the waterfront past the Science Center, the cruise ship terminal. We then walked up the hill past Notre Dame Cathedral, two statues showing what the English think of the Canadians, and some beautiful older buildings in the historic Old Port.
At 11:00 we went to the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. The museum is a collection of 4 buildings connected underground through the old sewer tunnels! It contains a large variety of displays from collections of “Cabinet Of Curiosities”, to artifacts from Montreal’s past, to a French Food display.
The basements of the buildings are archaeological dig sites where they have exposed the foundations of buildings going back to the original settlement of Montreal in 1642, and some First Nation settlements dating back 1000 years. They also unearthed one of Montreal’s first cemeteries.
We thought that the museum was going to be a quick visit, but we ended up staying for several hours! One of the highlights was access to the tower at the top of the building, where we got a great view of the Old Port area.
Okay, a quick diversion to personal observation. Montreal is a fascinating city with lots of history, beautiful architecture, art, culture, and excellent restaurants. Truly a world-class city! I can see why they have hosted Expos and the Olympics. What is sad, is how hard Montreal tries to be a “French City” not a “Canadian City, with French Origins”. I’ve visited Paris a few times, and it’s like they want to “be Paris!” It’s a shame really as they have so much of their own culture to offer, but are trying so hard to be “French” rather than “Canadian” that a lot of it gets lost. You see it everywhere from the advertisements to the attitudes of the wait staff, to the art displayed. Okay, off my soapbox and back to our trip.
After the museum, we grabbed some lunch at a “British Style Pub”, which had nice garden seating. Then we walked a few blocks to the main part of the city (out of the narrow streets of the Old Port area) and called an Uber to take us to the airport to pick up the rental car. The airport experience was pretty much typical, but we got our rental car and drove back toward the marina. We needed to find a place to park the car overnight, and thought we could use the parking garage at the Science Center right next door to the marina. What we failed to consider was that 1) it was Saturday, 2) The Caribbean food festival was going on, 3) There was a cruise ship in port. 4) Most of the signage is in French. All of the nearby parking was full by the time we got back into town around 5:00. So we drove around, and around, and finally found a parking lot with available space. The ticket machine was in French and I struggled with it for a few minutes before someone else walked up, so gave up and let them have it. They were Canadian and French-speaking, and they couldn’t figure it out either, which made us feel much better. Turns out the parking lot closes at 4 am so we could not park there overnight. We got back in the car, consulted “The Google Maps” and found another just up the street, only a few blocks from the marina. This one had an English option and after figuring out how to get more than 10 hours, we got the car parked and walked back up the hill to the old port. We walked around a bit, then found a good-looking Italian restaurant for dinner.
Sunday – 14th – 0 NM – In: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Sunday morning we walked up to the parking lot where we left the car. As we were passing a park, we heard drums and barked commands of ready, aim, fire! We walked to a garden wall and there was a group of British soldiers in 1800’s garb, drilling on the patio of a museum. It was fun to watch.
We got the car and headed north out of Montreal toward Yamachiche which is near Three Rivers. It took us about an hour to get there on Highway 40, which is a 4 lane highway. On the outskirts of Montreal, it was very industrial and commercial, but it quickly turned to a wooded roadway with the occasional farm.
When we got to the exit, we passed a truck stop, and then it was pretty much farmland until we got to town. When we arrived, it was a small collection of houses, a bank, and the Saint Anne catholic church. The church is surrounded by the cemetery, and we pulled in and drove through looking for the family name “Gelinas”.
We saw one and looped through to the church parking lot to park the car and walk back. As we approached the front of the church we saw that there was a map of the cemetery with all of the family names listed. We spent the next 20 minutes and found several graves with the “Gelinas” name and then walked out to see if any matched the names from the family tree.
The people we were looking for dated from the late 1600s and early 1700s. Everything that we found in the cemetery started in the late 1800s. As we walked around we found some information boards with the history of the church. Unfortunately, neither of us read french. Using Google translate and making sense of a lot of the words. We were able to make out that since the town was founded in the 1600s there had been 8 Sainte-Anne churches in town. There was a map showing the approximate locations of the older ones, so plotted them on Google Maps, got back in the car, and drove to “The Point” where the first settlement of the town took place.
The Point is now a park and wildlife reserve surrounded by farms. We cruised around the park and stopped at the tip of the point which is right on the St. Lawrence River. We could see boats passing in the distance, and one looked familiar. We checked on our tracking app and it was the Looper that was next to us the night before at the marina in Montreal.
There were no old cemeteries in the area, so we decided to head back into town and have some lunch. There is only one restaurant in town, and it was right across the street from the Sainte-Anne church. The young lady who waited on us spoke a bit of English, and we were able to order lunch. We asked if she knew where any of the old churches had been, but she didn’t know that there had been any except the one across the street. While we were waiting for lunch, I looked around the shop, and noticed a couple of books on a shelf, one of them was “Yamachiche Et Son Histoire 1672 – 1978” WOW what a find! Just what we were looking for, except, again in French. There were also a couple of books on the Family History of Yamachiche. It was a mini-research library in the restaurant.
We asked if we could borrow the book to browse while having our lunch and they said that was what they were for. So, we spent the next hour or so trying to decipher the history. There were some old maps, photographs, and copies of documents in the book. What we figured out was that as the church grew, and was relocated, they would dig up the old cemeteries and re-intern the bodies in new graves in the new churchyard. During the last move to the current location, a shrine to Saint-Anne was built and the remains of the original founders were interned in it. We also found out that the current church structure was replaced in the 1950s and that some of the churchyards were affected during the construction.
We took some photos of the important seeming pages of the books, and returned them, then went back across the street to the churchyard. We had walked past the shrine earlier in the day but had not paid much attention to it. We look around and took a few photos. As that was about all we were going to find, we got back in the car and decided to drive up to Three Rivers, the next major city up. As soon as we got out of town we were back in farmland. It was easy to see why residents were easily recruited to move to the “Big City” of Manchester, New Hampshire in the US to work in the Mills.
Three Rivers was fairly run-down and it was getting late so we jumped back on the highway, and headed back to Montreal. When we got back, we went straight to the airport to return the car, then took an Uber back to the marina. We put our stuff away, then walked back up to the main street for dinner. We decided to go back to the 3 Brasseurs for dinner.
Next Week: We leave Montreal and head to Ottawa and the Rideau Canal.
Tom & Brenda