THE UN-NEEDED WATERWAY

The Un-needed Waterway- Post #15 – Saturday, June 28, 2014.  On board: Jim & Trish Koningisor, Pat & Paul Coates

A major milestone!!

A major milestone!!

We have arrived in Trenton, Ontario – we’ve now reached the beginning of the Trent Severn Waterway – a major milestone on our journey! We arrived Friday after a 2-day, 75 mile run west from Kingston, Ontario, with an overnight stop in Picton.  Picton is a pleasant, moderate-sized town at the southern tip of a protected bay off the North Channel of Lake Ontario.  We arrived before noon then scrambled to a pub to catch the USA-Germany World Cup game over lunch. We cooked dinner on board and watched the sun set as we ate dinner and drank wine on the bridge. We’re now in Trenton, waiting for the arrival of the rest of the crew that will be with us for the next week.  Trenton is a pleasant waterfront town with a small, very friendly marina (Fraser Park Marina) at the mouth of the Trenton River next to downtown.  The waterfront park features live music several nights a week, a couple or restaurants with patios overlooking the park and the river, and a farmers market. The weather is sunny and hot!

The Trent-Severn Waterway has a distinct history, different from all the other canals and waterways on our trip. It is 240 miles long and contains 44 locks which raise and lower boats to the various levels of the lakes and rivers that make up the Waterway. One “lock” is not a lock at all, but is a marine railway that literally lifts the boat out of the water and carries it on rails to the next level.  I’ll provide pictures and more information on the marine railway and on two unique “lift locks” when we get there.  Building a canal to connect Trenton on the north shore of Lake Ontario to Port Severn at the northeast corner of Lake Huron for military purposes due to tensions with the United States was first examined in the 1780’s.  However, by 1815, it was ruled out as a military necessity and the idea dropped. Over ensuing decades, the idea was repeatedly revived and pushed by various special interests, but never gained traction or, more importantly, funding.  However, in response to economic needs and more demand to move people and goods around the area, numerous individual projects were undertaken, including constructing dams to raise water levels and individual locks at various locations linking adjacent lakes. After a re-examination, the Canadian government again concluded in 1875 that a continuous waterway from Trenton to Port Severn was not needed.  However, more individual locks continued to be built.  Then, around 1907, it was determined that combining locks with new hydroelectric power-generating dams would be an economic boon, so construction began in earnest – the locks were somewhat of a by-product of the hydroelectric dams.  By 1917, the lock at Big Chute was all that was needed for a continuous link. In order to accelerate the opening of the waterway, it was decided to construct a temporary marine railway at Big Chute for use while the lock was being constructed; as a result, the complete waterway opened in 1918 – 90 years after construction on the first lock had started! (contrast that with 5 years for the Rideau Canal and 8 years for the Erie Canal). However, in 1920, funds ran out, and the lock at Big Chute was never completed. Instead, the marine railway was enlarged in 1923 and remains in operation today – a historic and fascinating relic resulting from a quirk of history that was never intended .

Back to our trip. Most notably, Trish and Pat joined us in Kingston, so everything has changed! Here are some pictures:

Our celebratory dinner in Kingston upon the arrival of Trish & Pat!

Our celebratory dinner in Kingston upon the arrival of Trish & Pat!

Pat finds the front deck of the Joint Adventure while underway on a calm day to be the ideal place to do her daily excersizes

Pat finds the front deck of the Joint Adventure while underway on a calm day to be the ideal place to do her daily excersizes

Trish joined Pat to do her daily excerizes as well - as seen through the windows of the main salon

Trish joined Pat to do her daily excerizes as well – as seen through the windows of the main salon

Dinner on the bridge in Picton on the table that my Dad made for the Joint Adventure

Dinner on the bridge in Picton on the table that my Dad made for the Joint Adventure

An interesting boat in Picton Harbor

An interesting boat in Picton Harbor

The waterfront park along the Trento River, early Saturday morning

The waterfront park along the Trenton River, early Saturday morning

You may recall that we were hampered with difficult-to-diagnose hydraulic steering problems early in our trip, despite having the steering system checked and serviced this spring before we left. I’m happy to report that the problem was corrected in Albany, and the steering has worked perfectly since then. The picture below is of the crew that checked and serviced the steering system before we left.

I think I picked the wrong work gang...

I think I picked the wrong work gang…

One more tidbit – you may recall from my last blog that we found ourselves at a restaurant in Kingston on “Stand Up And Sing Night”, in which you would get a free desert if you stand up at your table and sing a song – which I did. A few people have asked what song I chose – I sang “Mary Had A Little Lamb” – all three verses. Only a few people left.

 

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GETTING READY TO HEAD WEST!

GETTING READY TO HEAD WEST! Post #14A – Day 54 – June 24, 2014. On board: Jim K, Paul Coates

A number of people have asked questions about the boat, our operation of the boat, and our daily routines. So here’s some general information:

We chose a power catamaran over a monohull for this trip for a number of reasons. First, it is much more fuel-efficient. A typical monohull of comparable size might get 3/4 to 1 mile per gallon of fuel at cruising (planing) speed, while the power catamaran gets close to 3 mpg. This is because a monohull gets its stability from a lot of weight down low, while a catamaran gets its stability from its width (17′ in our case). It therefore can be lighter and has to push less water out of the way and doesn’t have to push it as far because there are two smaller hulls instead of one larger hull. Second, because it is lighter and gets its stability from its width, it has a shallower draft (depth) than a comparable monohull – very important for shallow water areas and gives us more flexibility regarding where we can go. We draw less than 3 feet (that doesn’t mean we’re immune from going aground, however – we just have to work a little harder at it). Third, it has a lot of living space due to its width – it actually has two full-sized queen beds (though the cabins they’re in are quite small) and the dinette converts to a full-sized king bed. Lastly, the ride is quite nice in most conditions – it handles moderate seas quite well unless they’re from the beam (side) and it doesn’t roll like a monohull. That said, it has some disadvantages. It causes a very sharp motion if you take waves on the beam. Therefore, when steering, effort is made to avoid taking waves from that direction. Second, due to the hull design, access in the cabins and access to service the engines or other mechanical parts in the engine compartment is restricted. Lastly, since it is wider than most boats, finding dockage can be more challenging during busy times, but so far that has not really been a problem.

The primary tools we use for navigation are a Garmin chart plotter/radar with a touchscreen, and paper charts. For safety, we have redundancy – two older GPS units plus a hand-held GPS unit, plus we recently put a Garmin App on an IPAD. We have a full set of paper charts on board for everyplace we plan to go. Even so, we had a challenge on the Ottawa River. The chips in our electronic devices did not cover a section of the Ottawa River. Since we have paper charts and have experience navigating that way, we decided not to buy the extra chip (for $150) that covers all of upper Canada for that one little portion of the river, but decided that we would use the paper charts for that area (the old fashioned way). What we didn’t know, however, is that since we were on the river so early in the season, none of the aids to navigation would be in place yet. The river is quite wide in places with a lot of shoaling, so the channel meanders all over the place between the wide banks. With few natural features to use for identification, it was challenging at times to pick our way forward and stay in the unmarked channel.

Our typical day when we plan to move starts fairly early, particularly in areas where the wind is likely to pick up or the weather deteriorate as the day goes on. We’ve been underway as early at 6:00 AM, although 7:00 – 8:00 would be more typical. If we plan a short run or have to wait for locks to open and/or wind or weather is not a factor, we might leave as late as 9:00 or 10:00. We like to arrive at our destination by early afternoon to have the afternoon to explore wherever we are. We typically eat breakfast and lunch on board, often underway, and might have dinner on board or at a local restaurant, diner, or pub. We like to meet and talk with the local people, so we often look for a local pub or diner for dinner. In smaller towns or villages, we usually leave the next morning (weather permitting), but in major cities we stay much longer to see the sights and experience the city (we stayed for a week in Ottawa and four days in Kingston).

Fuel costs generally between $4 and $5 per gallon.  We will probably travel 6,000 miles or so – at $4.50, fuel costs will run around $9,000 for the trip.  When divided up among those on board at any given time, the cost is not bad considering it is a year-long trip.  So far, we have stayed in marinas or tied to seawalls in towns and canals.  We purchased a season-long Canada Pass for $600 which pays for all our lockages in Canada and allows us to tie up to any available seawall for free, except for a $10/night charge for electric if it is available.  Many towns provide seawall space for free as well to encourage boaters to stop overnight – our 7 nights in downtown Toronto cost just $10/night for the electric hookup. Once we’re in the Great Lakes and beyond, we’ll likely do some anchoring and staying on moorings, which are cheaper than marinas.  Marinas usually cost between $1/foot and $1.75/foot in this part of the country (times 34 feet) – again, not too bad when divided among those on board.

So we have spent the last 4 days exploring Kingston, Ontario – a vibrant city with a strong military history. The city is strategically located at the confluence of three waterways that were critical for transportation and defense in colonial times – Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the Rideau Canal.  In fact, Kingston was considered by the British to be the most important defensive position in all of Canada. It was primarily a French-speaking area until British royalist settlers flooded the area to escape the newly-independent 13 American colonies in 1783. As a result, the name was changed to King’s Town (later shortened to Kingston) to demonstrate loyalty to King George. A series of fortifications were built between 1832 and around 1850, during which time the British were quite concerned about a possible invasion by the Americans, who tried unsuccessfully to invade in several locations during the War of 1812. It’s interesting  to learn history here from the Canadian’s point of view – Americans were the aggressors in the War of 1812 and were successfully repelled from Canada, and Americans were the potential aggressors for the next 40 years – kept at bay by the defenses and strength of the Canadian military. Three fortifications were built in the Kingston area at that time, the most prominent being Fort Henry, built between 1832 and 1837, and several Martello towers – round stone fortifications in strategic locations.  Additional fortifications were built in the mid 1840’s when relations with Canada worsened over a dispute regarding the border of the Oregon territory.  Tensions eased when that dispute was resolved in 1846, but more fortifications were added in 1862-1863 as tensions again arose during the American Civil War. However, by 1870, relations between the two countries became friendly, and the decline in manning of the fortifications was underway. Today, the military history of Kingston is prominently displayed and is part of the fabric of the city. Here are some pictures:

Built in 1832-1837, Fort Henry was the main fortification to prevent the Americans from shutting off Canada's supply routes on the St. Lawrence and Rideau Canal  between Montreal and Quebec City to the east and Upper Canada (now Ontario) to the west

Built in 1832-1837, Fort Henry was the main fortification to prevent the Americans from shutting off Canada’s supply routes on the St. Lawrence and Rideau Canal between Montreal and Quebec City to the east and Upper Canada (now Ontario) to the west

A visit to Fort Henry provides a continuous series of re-enactments, including marching drills with the band, actual firing of one of the cannons, and other full-dress re-enactments

A visit to Fort Henry provides a continuous series of re-enactments, including marching drills with the band, actual firing of one of the cannons, and other full-dress re-enactments

Marching soldiers playing fifes at Fort Henry

Marching soldiers playing fifes at Fort Henry

Two of the 4 Martello Towers that still exist in Kingston - this picture is taken from Fort Henry, overlooking the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.  Martello Towers were used to add to the defense of the area because they could be built relatively quickly and cheaply and did not require a large contingency of soldiers to man

Two of the 4 Martello Towers that still exist in Kingston – this picture is taken from Fort Henry, overlooking the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Martello Towers were used to add to the defense of the area because they could be built relatively quickly and cheaply and did not require a large contingency of soldiers to man

The inside of one of the Martello towers, which is now a museum

The inside of one of the Martello towers, which is now a museum

A prominent part of both Kingston's history and its vibrant present is the Royal Military College, often referred to as the War College, seen here from Fort Henry.  It is analogous to America's West Point

A prominent part of both Kingston’s history and its vibrant present is the Royal Military College, often referred to as the War College, seen here from Fort Henry. It is analogous to America’s West Point

Kingston is a beautiful city with great architecture and what seems to be a vibrant economy. It grew up based on the military and support services for the military and its location as a transportation hub.  Shipbuilding was a major industry, and when railroads came into being, the city turned to trains – over 3,000 locomotives were built here. Today, the city thrives as a college town with three major universities (the Royal Military College and Queens University being the most well-known). There is a great deal of activity in the city.  On Saturday there was an all-day music festival, followed by a concert/exhibition in the retail/restaurant district featuring a brass band, an acrobat, belly dancers, and two fire-eating performers.  Some pictures from our stay in Kingston:

A prominent part of both Kingston's history and its vibrant present is the Royal Military College, often referred to as the War College, seen here from Fort Henry.  It is analogous to America's West Point

A prominent part of both Kingston’s history and its vibrant present is the Royal Military College, often referred to as the War College, seen here from Fort Henry. It is analogous to America’s West Point

The acrobat at the street celebration Saturday evening

The acrobat at the street celebration Saturday evening

Dancing in the street to the four-piece brass band

Dancing in the street to the four-piece brass band

Kids mesmerized watching the fire-eating performance

Kids mesmerized watching the fire-eating performance

Celebrating a World Cup goal in the local pub

Celebrating a World Cup goal in the local pub

Kingston City Hall

Kingston City Hall

One of the many picturesque stone alleyways in Kingston - abundant limestone and a large supply of stone masons looking for work after the Rideau Canal was completed caused many of the buildings in Kingston to be constructed of stone

One of the many picturesque stone alleyways in Kingston – abundant limestone and a large supply of stone masons looking for work after the Rideau Canal was completed caused many of the buildings in Kingston to be constructed of stone

One of the many examples of historic homes in Kingston

One of the many examples of historic homes in Kingston

As seen from Kingston, 82 wind turbines have been erected on Wolf Island in the middle of the St. Lawrence river - enough to power 75,000 homes

As seen from Kingston, 82 wind turbines have been erected on Wolf Island in the middle of the St. Lawrence river – enough to power 75,000 homes

Kingston was the site of the first penitentiary to be built in Canada in the 1800's.  It has just recently been vacated and is not open to the public, but there is an interesting museum in the warden's house adjacent to the old women's section of the prison

Kingston was the site of the first penitentiary to be built in Canada in the 1800’s. It has just recently been vacated and is not open to the public, but there is an interesting museum in the warden’s house adjacent to the old women’s section of the prison

At dinner, we discovered that it was "Stand Up And Sing Night" at the restaurant we were at - if you stood up and sang, you got a free desert. I couldn't resist.  To put it in context - in the 6th grade, chorus was required of every student in the class - except my friend Matt Sibble and me.  We were "excused" from chorus and put in a remote study hall instead.  True story.  I've been traumatized ever since - however, a free desert was sufficient for me to overcome my trauma

At dinner, we discovered that it was “Stand Up And Sing Night” at the restaurant we were at – if you stood up and sang, you got a free desert. I couldn’t resist. To put it in context – in the 6th grade, chorus was required of every student in the class – except my friend Matt Sibble and me. We were “excused” from chorus and put in a remote study hall instead. True story. I’ve been traumatized ever since – however, a free desert was sufficient for me to overcome my trauma

Paul pretending to actually do some work

Paul pretending to actually do some work

So tomorrow we cast off the lines and head west. Trish and Pat arrived today (YAYY!), so now we are four. Our target is to reach Trenton, which is the entrance to the Trent-Severn Waterway, by Saturday, where Red & Mary Beth and Billy & Kathy will join us as well.

 

 

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THE LOWER RIDEAU

THE LOWER RIDEAU (Post #14 – Day 51, Saturday, June 21, 2014). On board: Paul & Jim K

Three more days running south on the Rideau Canal have brought us to Kingston, Ontario – located on the northeast corner of Lake Ontario, where the lake transitions into the St. Lawrence River. The term Rideau Canal is often used for the entire waterway from Ottawa to Kingston, but it is a bit of a misnomer – heading south from Ottawa (as we did), the first part of the canal runs up the Rideau River, with canals and locks bypassing parts that are not navigable. A series of beautiful lakes (some created by dams when the system was built in 1832) are then connected by narrow cuts, locks, and short sections of canals. The southern part of the waterway that we just completed then follows the Cataraqui River, again with canals and locks bypassing parts that are not navigable. However, following convention, I’ll continue to refer to the entire waterway as the Rideau Canal.

The southern part of the Canal has fewer and smaller towns than the northern part.  Our next stop was Jones Falls, one of the prettiest rural lock areas on the Canal. Consisting of a series of 4 locks in series and basins above, between, and below the locks, there are multiple places to tie up for the night.  There is no town or village nearby, but fronting on the lower basin is a wonderful inn/restaurant called the Hotel Kenney – it contains a quaint and beautiful bar area, an upscale restaurant, lodging, and a wrap-around sun porch along the entire frontage. Here are some pictures:

Tied to the seawall in the upper basin at Jones Falls - here we met Steve & Karen, a wonderful couple whom we cruised with for the next couple of days

Tied to the seawall in the upper basin at Jones Falls – here we met Steve & Karen, a wonderful couple whom we cruised with for the next couple of days

Hotel Kenney overlooking the lower basin at Jones Falls.  The boat on the left is tied to the seawall awaiting passage the next morning through the 4 locks at Jones Falls

Hotel Kenney overlooking the lower basin at Jones Falls. The boat on the left is tied to the seawall awaiting passage the next morning through the 4 locks at Jones Falls

At Jones Falls is a fascinating dam built in 1831 by Colonel By (here goes the engineer in me again…).  No, this is really cool.  At the time, it was the tallest dam in North America and the third largest in the entire world – built in utter wilderness virtually by hand.  The enormous stone blocks were quarried and cut 6 miles away and hauled by oxen one by one over a road they had to build before they could even start the dam.  It is 6 stories high and was built in a horizontal arch (as you’ll see in the picture below) – the first of its type in North America.  Because the river roared through the gully where the dam had to be built, they first built a smaller 20′ high wooden dam with a sluiceway (bypass) to divert the water, then built the lower 20′ of the stone dam.  They then had to repeat the process of first building a 20′ wooden dam with a sluiceway on top of the partially-built stone dam twice more until they reached the required height of the dam.  The dam then flooded the land upstream, creating a large navigable lake where raging rapids formerly stood. Here are a couple pictures:

The 6 story high dam at Jones Falls, built entirely of enormous stone blocks hauled by oxen one at a time from a quarry 6 miles away

The 6 story high dam at Jones Falls, built entirely of enormous stone blocks hauled by oxen one at a time from a quarry 6 miles away

A power generator was added next to the dam in the 1940's - these are the pipes running from the lake at the top to the generator at the bottom. The pipes are made of wood (like a long barrel that a cooper would make in colonial times) and are still in use - however, there are numerous small leaks which they continue to try to patch by various means

A power generator was added next to the dam in the 1940’s – these are the pipes running from the lake at the top to the generator at the bottom. The pipes are made of wood (like a long barrel that a cooper would make in colonial times) and are still in use – however, there are numerous small leaks which they continue to try to patch by various means

The run along this section of the Rideau Canal is rural and beautiful, made up of a series of lakes connected by narrow cuts and, at the southern end, the Cataraqui River. Some area are wilderness and others are dotted with cottages ranging from one room bungalows to large homes.  The lakes tend to be deep and the cuts narrow and sometimes shallow.  Here are some pictures of this part of the Rideau:

A narrow cut along the Rideau Canal

A narrow cut along the Rideau Canal

Another narrow cut - the Joint Adventure is 17' wide, so these areas had our complete focus - the sides and bottom in this area is all rock - OWCH!!

Another narrow cut – the Joint Adventure is 17′ wide, so these areas had our complete focus – the sides and bottom in this area is all rock – OUCH!!

This is a one-car, self operated ferry across one of the cuts.  You drive your car onto the ferry, then use a hand crank on the ferry that is connected to a chain that runs along the bottom from one side to the other.  As you crank, the chain pulls you to the other side, where you tie up the ferry.  There is also a crank on either shore to pull the ferry back if it is on the other side when you arrive

This is a one-car, self operated ferry across one of the cuts. You drive your car onto the ferry, then use a hand crank on the ferry that is connected to a chain that runs along the bottom from one side to the other. As you crank, the chain pulls you to the other side, where you tie up the ferry. There is also a crank on either shore to pull the ferry back if it is on the other side when you arrive

I couldn't resist a picture of one more wooden swing bridge - this is opened by the lock operator physically pushing the bridge to rotate it open or closed

I couldn’t resist a picture of one more wooden swing bridge – this is opened by the lock operator physically pushing the bridge to rotate it open or closed

Entering one of the lakes on the lower Rideau Canal

Entering one of the lakes on the lower Rideau Canal

A boathouse on one of the lakes in the Rideau

A boathouse on one of the lakes in the Rideau

 

A cottage on the Rideau

A cottage on the Rideau – notice the guy on the deck imitating Paul….

Another cottage - notice the guy on the deck imitating Paul....

Another cottage on the Rideau

Some cottages are more modest than others...

Some cottages are more modest than others…

Some of the cottages need some tender loving care - Doug, looks like an investment opportunity for you....

Some of the cottages need some tender loving care – Doug, looks like an investment opportunity for you….

On our last night before reaching Kingston, we tied up at the lower basin of the three locks at Brewers (Upper & Lower). It was an idyllic setting with a waterfalls, the historic locks, a wooden swing bridge, and fast-moving current from the falls that made it a great fishing spot – we were joined often by local fisherman catching pike and bass. We tied up next to our new friends Steve & Karen.  The countryside is rural farm country, so I went for a long bike ride to enjoy the scenery. The locks are 10 miles from the nearest town, so we cooked spaghetti on board – I learned that you don’t really need to cook the whole box for two people.  We’ll have spaghetti for dinner for awhile.

Here are some pictures:

Here is the setting in the lower basin just below the Lower Brewer Locks

Here is the setting in the lower basin just below the Lower Brewer Locks

The Joint Adventure at Lower Brewer - Steve & Karen's boat is in front of us, and another boat that tied up late in the afternoon

The Joint Adventure at Lower Brewer – Steve & Karen’s boat is in front of us, and another boat that tied up late in the afternoon

The last of the locks on the Rideau Canal!  Four locks in series lowers us to the level of Lake Ontario, just 5 miles away!

The last of the locks on the Rideau Canal! Four locks in series lowers us to the level of Lake Ontario, just 5 miles away!

So we are now docked in Kingston, on the shore of Lake Ontario. We’ll spend the next 4 days exploring the city and the area until Trish & Pat join us mid week. Another milestone on our journey!

 

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DOWN THE RIDEAU

Down the Rideau – Post #12 (June 19, 2014)- On board: Jim K & Paul Coates

Down the Rideau Canal we go, heading south toward Kingston, Ontario, which is located on Lake Ontario at the point where it transitions into the St. Lawrence River. The Rideau Canal is an engineering wonder for its time. Colonel By was tasked in 1826 with building a waterway connection from Lake Ontario to the Ottawa River to create a military supply route as an alternative to the St. Lawrence River, a distance of 126 miles through total wilderness. He employed 6,000 workers (of which 500 died) and built 47 locks and 74 dams in just six short Canada construction seasons, opening the canal in 1832. The canal lifts boats a total of 28 stories above the level of the Ottawa River to the high point, then lowers them 16 stories to the level of Lake Ontario. Two years into the construction, Colonel By decided that steamboats were the future, so he decided to redesign the canal with larger locks to accommodate steamboats, even though it meant rebuilding several locks that had already been completed (can you imagine the Change Orders that generated?). It was the largest and most expensive project at that time in the entire British Empire, which stretched around the entire world. Upon completion in record time way ahead of schedule, Colonel By was summoned back to England – for a commendation, he expected. Instead he was hauled before a panel to face a government inquiry into why it cost so much (some things never change…) and an investigation regarding the use of funds. He was acquitted of all allegations, but died 4 years later a distraught and disappointed man. However, his legacy lives on, as the Canal was an enormous economic success and has been in continuous operation since 1832.

Our run down the canal has been fascinating. All the locks are manually operated, and the canal links lakes and rivers to form a continuous waterway. Here are some pictures taken along the route:

The Canal is often quite narrow and has depths as low as 4 1/2 feet.  This is a swing bridge in the process of opening for us with a narrow passage that left only a few feet between concrete abutments on either side of the boat as we passed

The Canal is often quite narrow and has depths as low as 4 1/2 feet. This is a swing bridge in the process of opening for us with a narrow passage that left only a few feet between concrete abutments on either side of the boat as we passed

This is a swing bridge located at one of the locks - after manually opening the gates to the lock, the lockmaster and his assistant literally push one end of the bridge sideways to swing it open, then push it on the opposite side to close it after we pass.

This is a swing bridge located at one of the locks – after manually opening the gates to the lock, the lockmaster and his assistant literally push one end of the bridge sideways to swing it open, then push it on the opposite side to close it after we pass.

Fuel is expensive in Canada, so I decided to earn some extra money working the locks

Fuel is expensive in Canada, so I decided to earn some extra money working the locks

Paul making lunch on the bridge of the Joint Adventure while traveling on the Rideau Canal

Paul making lunch on the bridge of the Joint Adventure while traveling on the Rideau Canal

Paul doing what Paul does best after a hard day at sea

Paul doing what Paul does best after a hard day at sea

One of our favorite stops was in Merrickville, where we tied to a seawall in the downtown area for the afternoon and overnight.  Merrickville was settled in large part by British loyalists from the American colonies who fled in 1783 when the colonies won the Revolutionary War, fearing reprisals for their loyalty to Britain.  Adjacent to the lock in downtown Merrickville is a fortified masonry Blockhouse, which was built to protect the lockstation from a feared invasion by the Americans.  It has been fully restored and houses an interesting Rideau Canal museum. Merrickville grew in colonial days into a significant industrial center, utilizing water power from the strong rapids on the Rideau River to power sawmills, grist mills, and other factories.  Remnants of some of the old mills are still standing and can be explored. Fronting Main Street is a collection of historic buildings with architecture from the 1800’s, now housing restaurants, a collection of interesting shops, and other businesses. Here are some pictures:

A section of Main Street in Merricksville

A section of Main Street in Merrickville

An interesting exhibit in the Blockhouse Museum - everyone had to pull his own weight in the old days, including Fido - this is a dog-powered butter churn.  The dog was put in the cage on the left side of the wheel.  As the dog walked forward (enticed by some food, perhaps?), the dog turned the wheel upon which it was standing, which in turn operated the churn on the left, connected by a pulley to the wheel. Where was the SPCA?

An interesting exhibit in the Blockhouse Museum – everyone had to pull his own weight in the old days, including Fido – this is a dog-powered butter churn. The dog was put in the cage on the left side of the wheel. As the dog walked forward (enticed by some food, perhaps?), the dog turned the wheel upon which it was standing, which in turn operated the churn on the left, connected by a pulley to the wheel. Where was the SPCA?

 

Paul doing what Paul does best - obviously worn out by his visit to the Blockhouse Museum and imagining how that dog must have felt

Paul doing what Paul does best – obviously worn out by his visit to the Blockhouse Museum and imagining how that dog must have felt

The rapids at Merrickville next to where we were docked - we thought about running them, but decided to use the locks instead....

The rapids at Merrickville next to where we were docked – we thought about running them, but decided to use the locks instead….

Canada is serious about its hockey - this beer tap in one of the pubs leaves no doubt about the Owner's loyalties (we didn't mention the Bruins)

Canada is serious about its hockey – this beer tap in one of the pubs leaves no doubt about the Owner’s loyalties (we didn’t mention the Bruins)

A wonderful system of bike paths parallels much of the Rideau Canal and connects to other bike paths. One of the great experiences of a trip like this is the people one meets.  This is John, a biker doing a week-long trip who was camping in the park area adjacent to the lock in Merricksville.  One can camp at many of the locks, many of which have park areas, picnic tables, and rest rooms

A wonderful system of bike paths parallels much of the Rideau Canal and connects to other bike paths. One of the great experiences of a trip like this is the people one meets. This is John, a biker doing a week-long trip who was camping in the park area adjacent to the lock in Merrickville. One can camp at many of the locks, many of which have park areas, picnic tables, and rest rooms

Our next stop was Smith Falls, a larger and more commercial town than Merrickville.  There are three museums in town – the Railway Museum, the Heritage Museum, and a History Museum.  Again, we tied up to the seawall in the middle of downtown and walked or biked everywhere, including a pub in town where we watched the Russia/Korea World Cup game.  A few pictures from Smith Falls:

This is the Dentist Car at the Railway Museum.  It would go from town to town in northern Canada bringing dental care to remote villages where none existed in the 20's and 30's.  The dentist and his family lived in the car, which was moved from town to town by freight trains when needed

This is the Dentist Car at the Railway Museum. It would go from town to town in northern Canada bringing dental care to remote villages where none existed in the 20’s and 30’s. The dentist and his family lived in the car for several years at a time, which was moved from town to town by freight trains when needed

This is the dentists office within the Dentist Car - no anesthesia except laughing gas was used - he must have been a popular guy -

This is the dentists office within the Dentist Car – no anesthesia except laughing gas was used – he must have been a popular guy –

Shucks - and we brought all our fishing gear....

Shucks – and we brought all our fishing gear….

This old RR bridge as we exited the locks at Smith Falls has been in the open position since 1973.  It was an engineering feat when built, perfectly balanced throughout the entire opening sequence so it required only a 1/4 HP motor to open or close it.  It is now privately owned by a contractor who excavated all the fill leading up to the bridge and has no further use for it, so the bridge can be bought for $1

This old RR bridge as we exited the locks at Smith Falls has been in the open position since 1973. It was an engineering feat when built, perfectly balanced throughout the entire opening sequence so it required only a 1/4 HP motor to open or close it. It is now privately owned by a contractor who excavated all the fill leading up to the bridge and has no further use for it, so the bridge can be bought for $1

We are now in Westport, a small resort village on the northeast tip of Upper Rideau Lake, a side trip of about 5 miles. It is a remote area, and the town is small but quite pleasant with many shops that must be busy at the height of the tourist season. We went to the “rack & tunes” night at the local restaurant/pub, featuring ribs and fries for $10 with live music.

The footbridge in Westport Harbor connecting the island where we're docked to the mainland

The footbridge in Westport Harbor connecting the island where we’re docked to the mainland

On to Kingston, which we expect to reach over the weekend and spend several days sightseeing. Trish & Pat will join us by mid-week, then we’ll head west on Lake Ontario to the entrance to the Trent Severn Waterway.

 

 

 

 

 

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WOMEN ARE PERSONS….

Women are Persons… – Post #11, Day 44  – June 14 (my birthday!)

The week started on an exciting note last Saturday, as we left the Hull Marina, crossed the Ottawa River and entered the set of 8 flight locks that are the entrance to the Rideau Canal. In the early days of canal construction, the technology did not allow for high lifts (such as the 7 story lift in the Carillon Lock on the Ottawa River, which was constructed much later). The need to lift boats significant heights was accomplished with flight locks, which are a series of locks in a row in which you enter the chamber of the next lock directly upon leaving the previous lock. Since the land rises sharply from the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa (which is built on a hill), it was necessary to build a series of 8 flight locks just to get to the elevation of the city.  The average lift for each lock is less than 10 feet.
Completed in 1832, the 140-mile long Rideau Canal connects a series of lakes and rivers via a series of canals and 44 locks, following a route between the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario that was used for centuries by native Americans (or in this case Native Canadians) well before Samuel de Champlain traced the route in 1615. The other canals we’ve transited so far were all built for economic reasons – to provide a cheaper and faster way to move people and goods via water before railroads came along and provided an even cheaper and faster method. The Rideau Canal, however, was built not for economic reasons but for military reasons. Britain was still smarting over losing two wars to the upstart Americans – the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 – and were fearful that another war would break out which would jeapordise Britain’s ownership of Canada. At the time, Britain used Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to move supplies and troops to Quebec, but were fearful that the Americans could close that route in the event of a war, isolating Quebec. Therefore, they decided to construct an alternate water route from Lake Ontario to the Ottawa River, thus enabling them to bypass the St. Lawrence to supply Quebec. Ironically, it was never used for military purposes but immediately became an economic success from the movement of goods. Today, the Rideau Canal is a World Heritage Site (along with such places as the Pyramids, Stonehenge, etc.). In the winter, it freezes and becomes the world’s longest skating rink – 9 kilometers long.
In any case, we had a fascinating run up the flight locks that are now over 180 years old and still hand operated. Since the locks go right through downtown, sometimes thousands of people gather to watch boats transit the 8 locks, which takes about 2 hours to do. Here are a few pictures:

The eight historic flight locks in downtown Ottawa built in 1832 which mark the beginning of the Rideau Canal and our trip south to Lake Ontario

The eight historic flight locks in downtown Ottawa built in 1832 which mark the beginning of the Rideau Canal and our trip south to Lake Ontario

The crew for the trip from Montreal to Ottawa waiting for the last lock to open as we enter Ottawa - from left to right, Tom, Mary M, Ted, Kathleen, Mary R, and Jim K

The crew for the trip from Montreal to Ottawa waiting for the last lock to open as we enter Ottawa – from left to right, Tom, Mary M, Ted, Kathleen, Mary R, and Jim K

The week has been spent in Ottawa enjoying this wonderful city and seeing the sights.  English is clearly dominant here, although many people are bilingual.  A two minute ride across one of the bridges reverses the culture, where French is clearly dominant.  In 1857, Queen Victoria was required to choose the city which would be the capital of Canada.  Kingston, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City were the front-runners – Ottawa was thought not even to be under consideration, since at that time it was a ramshackle lumber town in the middle of nowhere.  However, with amazing foresight, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa because it was on the confluence of the French and English cultures, which would have to work together if Canada was to survive.  Ottawa was so remote at the time that, upon hearing of Victoria’s decision, the Governor General of Canada wrote glumly of his “exile to the wilderness”.  Today, I’m told there are two seasons in Ottawa – construction season and hockey season.

The magnificent Parliament Building is a highlight of the City.  Here are some pictures:

The magnificent Parliament Building high on the hill overlooking the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa

The magnificent Parliament Building high on the hill overlooking the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa

View of the Ottawa River from the observation deck in the Parliament Building. The French-speaking city of Hull, Quebec, is on the far side of the river (on the left in the photograph)

View of the Ottawa River from the observation deck in the Parliament Building. The French-speaking city of Hull, Quebec, is on the far side of the river (on the left in the photograph)

The House of Lords chamber in the Parliament Building.  The color green is dominant. The Senate has a similar chamber, where the color red is dominant

The House of Lords chamber in the Parliament Building. The color green is dominant. The Senate has a similar chamber, where the color red is dominant

Incidentally, in Canada, Senators are not elected – they are appointed by the Prime Minister and serve until they choose to resign or they turn age 75, whichever comes first.  What would the US Congress look like if the President appointed Senators essentially for life instead of the people of each state electing them?

Another highlight in Ottawa is the marketplace district, which includes extensive open air markets that sell a wide variety of products including fresh produce, pedestrian malls closed to traffic, restaurants galore with outdoor seating that spills onto the streets, street performers, watering holes, etc., etc.  It is alive with people every day and night of the week – perhaps it is best described as a combination of Boston’s Haymarket Square and Fanuiel Hall Marketplace times four.

A few pictures taken in Ottawa:

Restaurants spill onto the streets in the Marketplace District - I'm told that you could eat 3 meals a day in the Marketplace for three months and not eat at the same restaurant twice

Restaurants spill onto the streets in the Marketplace District – I’m told that you could eat 3 meals a day in the Marketplace for three months and not eat at the same restaurant twice

One of the more interesting street performers in the Marketplace District

One of the more interesting street performers in the Marketplace District

The Joint Adventure tied to the canal wall in downtown Ottawa, next to the Westin Hotel.  The dockage is free with electricity available for $10/day.

The Joint Adventure tied to the canal wall in downtown Ottawa, next to the Westin Hotel. The dockage is free with electricity available for $10/day.

The Canadian capital has protests as well - this is a large march through the city by the Egyptian community objecting to the military rule in Egypt

The Canadian capital has protests as well – this is a large march through the city by the Egyptian community objecting to the military rule in Egypt

This will freak you out if you are afraid of spiders - a two story high spider in the plaza of the National Gallery of Canada.  The magnificent building is in the background - the building itself is worth the $10 admission.  I'm not an expert in art by any means, but found it extraordinary

This will freak you out if you are afraid of spiders – a two story high spider in the plaza of the National Gallery of Canada. The magnificent building is in the background – the building itself is worth the $10 admission. I’m not an expert in art by any means, but found it extraordinary

The atrium of the Gallery of Canada in downtown Ottawa

The atrium of the Gallery of Canada in downtown Ottawa

 

In case of a mutiny, this is my back-up crew - at least they won't talk back

In case of a mutiny, this is my back-up crew – at least they won’t talk back

 

For you bikers, Ottawa is a very bike-friendly place with bikes everywhere. Here is the best design for an urban bike lane - parked cars are moved away from the sidewalk and a second curb is put in to delineate a fully-protected bike lane and keep parked cars out of the bike lane

For you bikers, Ottawa is a very bike-friendly place with bikes everywhere. Here is the best design for an urban bike lane – parked cars are moved away from the sidewalk and a second curb is put in to delineate a fully-protected bike lane and keep parked cars out of the bike lane

My lifeboat crew - practicing their rowing...

My lifeboat crew – practicing their rowing…

Celebrating the defeat of the NY Rangers in the Stanley Cup final with my new buddy at a Marketplace bar near the end of the second overtime at 12:30 AM - WAY past my bedtime

Celebrating the defeat of the NY Rangers in the Stanley Cup final with my new buddy at a Marketplace bar near the end of the second overtime at 12:30 AM – WAY past my bedtime

So you may recall the contest we had to come up with a creative caption for the bent boat hook picture.  We received many great suggestions, most of which are listed in a previous blog post.  Below is the picture along with the winner and the runner-up:

The winner:  Seriously, Jim, this is exactly how you gave it to me The runner-up:  That's for using the hook around a corner

The winner: Seriously, Jim, this is exactly how you gave it to me
The runner-up: That’s for using the hook around a corner

So – what does the title “Women Are Persons….” have to do with anything?  Well, when Canada was formed in 1867, the Act that created Parliament stipulated that only “qualified persons” were eligible to serve in the Senate.  Five governments in a row determined that women were not “persons”, and therefore not eligible to serve in the Senate. In 1927, a group of women activists challenged the determination in court. In 1928, the Supreme Court ruled that women were not eligible because they were not “persons”.  The women activists appealed the Supreme Court decision, and in 1929, the highest court in Canada ruled that women, in fact, are persons after all.  I’m not sure what kind of research they might have done.  The court went on to say   “the exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours, but it must be remembered that the necessity of the times often forced on man customs which in later years were not necessary.” I’m not commenting.

Here are some pictures of a sculpture on Parliament Hill marking the occasion of this ground-breaking revelation:

Two of the women in the sculpture commemorating the court ruling - one holding up the front page of a newspaper to three other women in the sculpture

Two of the women in the sculpture commemorating the court ruling – one holding up the front page of a newspaper to three other women in the sculpture

The plaque that the woman in the sculpture is holding up, which is the front page of a newspaper when the ruling was announced

The plaque that the woman in the sculpture is holding up, which is the front page of a newspaper when the ruling was announced

The other two women in the sculpture

The other two women in the sculpture

So – are women persons in the United States?  Canada cleared up this question in 1929, but I’m not aware of any similar determination by a court in the U.S.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this subject that they could share?

Tomorrow morning we head south on the Rideau Canal towards Lake Ontario.

 

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OTTAWA!!

OTTAWA!!  (Fri., June 6 – Day 36)

Hull, Quebec, actually – directly across the river from Ottawa.  We’ll cross the river today and go up the 8 flight locks and tie up to the canal wall in the center of downtown Ottawa.

We left Montreal early Monday morning to resume our transit up the St. Lawrence River and through 23 miles of canal and locks that were constructed to convert the St. Lawrence River into the St. Lawrence Seaway. Begun in 1954 and completed in 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway is still regarded today as one of the most challenging and awe-inspiring engineering projects in history. Related hydro-electric generating projects added to the complexity. Not only did it require innovative engineering and massive construction, it required unprecedented cooperation between the US and Canadian governments, which had to agree on who constructed and paid for what, who got jobs, how each cost would be split, and how Seaway and electricity revenue would be split (would Congress be able to agree on that internally today, not to mention coming to an agreement with another government?)  In any case, the total cost in 1950’s dollars was $470 million, of which Canada paid around 70%. As part of the Seaway and related power projects, nearly 100 square miles of land were flooded, including entire villages – 6500 people were resettled and 550 homes were moved to new locations!
When I was about 10 years old, my Dad and Mom took us on a family vacation by car to the Adirondack Mountains, including a couple of days stop at the 2 U.S. locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway at Massena, NY (I wonder who planned that part of the vacation….).  I remember watching enormous ships passing through the Eisenhower and Snell locks with total fascination – I was mesmerized. Never did I think that 53 years later (did I really admit it was 53 years?) I would piloting a boat through similar locks further down the St. Lawrence Seaway. And I’m just as mesmerized today as I was then.
Anyway, we had to wait for about 2 hours to enter the St. Lambert lock in Montreal. However, we were rewarded with the opportunity to watch a 600 foot ship crawl its way through the lock. It literally had inches on either side as it transited the lock. Here’s a picture – notice the Captain Phillips life boat at the stern of the boat:

A 600 ft ship as it emerged from the St. Lambert lock at Montreal - notice the Captain Phillips lifeboat at the stern, which is more than 3 stories above the water - imagine the impact when it hits -

A 600 ft ship as it emerged from the St. Lambert lock at Montreal – notice the Captain Phillips lifeboat at the stern, which is more than 3 stories above the water – imagine the impact when it hits –

A close-up of the "Captain Phillips boat" - an amazing movie if you haven't seen it.  I knew the story and was on the edge of my seat

A close-up of the “Captain Phillips boat” – an amazing movie if you haven’t seen it. I knew the story and was on the edge of my seat

We had only a short wait at the St. Catherine lock, then completed our run from Montreal to St. Anne de Bellevue, which is located where the Ottawa River empties into the St. Lawrence. The weather was hot and sunny and the wind calm, so it was a very pleasant passage.  A few pictures:

1776 was a very important year - Molson Brewery began selling beer

1776 was a very important year – Molson Brewery began selling beer

Kathleen & Ted making sure the wall doesn't get away in the St. Lambert lock

Kathleen & Ted making sure the wall doesn’t get away in the St. Lambert lock

 

Relaxing on the "front porch" as we transit a calm portion of the Seaway - the Joint Adventure is 17' wide.  While creating some docking challenges at times, it affords a very generous amount of deck space

Relaxing on the “front porch” as we transit a calm portion of the Seaway – the Joint Adventure is 17′ wide. While creating some docking challenges at times, it affords a very generous amount of deck space

The St. Lawrence portion of our journey has been completed – another milestone!  St. Anne de Bellevue is a pleasant French village at the beginning of the Ottawa River – a lock at the mouth of the river lifts boats above the rapids. There is about a half mile of docks lining both sides of the canal which provides free dockage for visiting boaters.  However, due to the very high water levels, all but about 200 feet of docks were awash.  The canal is lined with restaurants and the people are very friendly.  A couple of pictures:

The Joint Adventure tied to the free dock at St. Anne de Bellevue at the junction of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers before entering the lock. The canal frontage is lined with a wide variety of restaurants to the left of the boat

The Joint Adventure tied to the free dock at St. Anne de Bellevue at the junction of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers before entering the lock. The canal frontage is lined with a wide variety of restaurants to the left of the boat

Even in a relatively remote village in Quebec, Cape Cod is a draw - and a marketing tool -

Even in a relatively remote village in Quebec, Cape Cod is a draw – and a marketing tool –

 

Tom with his favorite waitress in St. Anne de Bellevue.  Tom had LOOPER shirts made for us - sometimes I think "LOOPY" would have been more appropriate....

Tom with his favorite waitress in St. Anne de Bellevue. Tom had LOOPER shirts made for us – sometimes I think “LOOPY” would have been more appropriate….

The highlight of the run from St. Anne de Bellevue to Montebello was the amazing lock at Carillon, Quebec (humor me – I’m an engineer….however, even normal people were in awe).  Traveling up-river as we were, you enter the lock be passing under an enormous overhead gate:

The entrance to the Carillon lock

The entrance to the Carillon lock

Inside the lock chamber is a floating dock to tie to.  An enormous door in the overhead gate then lowers to enclose you and the boat at the bottom of a deep chamber.  The lock is then flooded and raises the boat 7 stories.  The stairway that you can see at the back of the chamber that the attendants use to get down to your boat before the lock is flooded becomes submerged as the lock fills – this stirs also serves as an escape route if a boat caught on fire or if the lock malfunctions (YIKES!):

Looking up 7 stories from the lock chamber - the water floods over the wall at the front of the chamber to raise the boat to the very top

Looking up 7 stories from the lock chamber – the water floods over the wall at the front of the chamber to raise the boat to the very top

The Joint Adventure about 2/3 of the way to the top of the Carillon lock - the stairs can be seen at the front of the lock

The Joint Adventure about 2/3 of the way to the top of the Carillon lock – the stairs can be seen at the front of the lock

Kathleen, Mary, and Ted enjoying the scenery on the Ottawa River - notice the Canadian courtesy flag in the background (now hung right side up)

Kathleen, Mary, and Ted enjoying the scenery on the Ottawa River – notice the Canadian courtesy flag in the background (now hung right side up)

Our next stop was Papineauville, Quebec, at Le Chateau Montebello, an enormous log mansion built by Louis Papineau in 1803.  It is said to be the largest log building in the world, which I do not doubt – I could not get a camera angle that showed more than about a third of the building. Five generations of Papineau’s lived there from 1803 to 1929, at which time it was acquired by the Canadian Pacific Railroad and used as a sportsman’s club.  In 1971 it was converted to a hotel, and is currently operated by the Fairmont chain.  Some pictures, which do not do it justice:

Perhaps a third of the enormous log building can be seen in this picture

Perhaps a third of the enormous log building can be seen in this picture

 

A portion of the lobby of the Le Chateau Montebello

A portion of the lobby of the Le Chateau Montebello

The dining room in the Le Chateau Montebello

The dining room in the Le Chateau Montebello

Following is a picture of the Ottawa skyline taken from the Hull, Quebec side of the bridge that spans the Ottawa River and connects the two cities.  We’re about to cast off and enter the next leg of our journey – the Rideau Canal.  First, however, we’ll tie up and stay in downtown Ottawa for a week or so to explore the city and change crews.

The Ottawa skyline from the Hull, Quebec side of the bridge

The Ottawa skyline from the Hull, Quebec side of the bridge

 

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MONTREAL!!

Day 31 – June 1

After waiting out 3 days of rain in Chambly, we were rewarded with a spectacular day for the trip from Chambly to Sorel and the St. Lawrence River/Seaway – sunny, windless, and warm.  However, with Lake Champlain already at flood stage and nearly 2″ of rain over the past 3 days, the current in the Richelieu River was very swift.  We were warned both in the literature and by a boater that we met about a very narrow bridge opening with a swift current at Point Beloeil.  We planned and prepared carefully ahead of time, strategizing our approach, deploying every fender we have on the port side where we thought the current might take us if we misjudged, and donning life jackets.  However, the extra current may have helped us as the high water was funneled between the concrete abutments.  In any case, we came through unscathed and had a great run to Sorel.

You can see by the picture below that we display both an American flag and a Canadian “courtesy” flag while in Canada.

The stern of the Joint Adventure displaying the American flag and a courtesy Canadian flag while in Canada

The stern of the Joint Adventure displaying the American flag and a courtesy Canadian flag while in Canada

I hung the Canadian courtesy flag before we entered the first lock in Canada, knowing that many people would be watching us as we descended each of the 9 locks along the Chambly Canal.  Tom usually deals with the flags on board, but he was busy doing something else so I hung it, proud to display our act of courtesy at each lock.  When we arrived in Chambly, however, Tom bellowed “You’re fired”, as he pointed to the Canadian flag which I had inadvertently hung upside down.

Below are a few pictures taken in Sorel, the city where the Richelieu River (which you may recall drains Lake Champlain) joins the St. Lawrence.  Those of you who were on our bike trip last summer will remember Sorel as the place we took the ferry across the St. Lawrence to continue on the north side of the river.  We’re docked a short distance from the ferry dock and see it plying the river back and forth.  For anyone who likes biking and is looking for a unique vacation, Quebec has an amazing, well-developed system of bike routes that are well marked and many of which are off-road bike paths for miles and miles.  They have also developed an amazing that has maps showing bike routes throughout Quebec, including motels, hotels, bed & breakfasts, and campsites along the way.  We used it to plan our week-long trip last year that included 15 family and friends (including my Dad who drove an RV as our support vehicle), in which we biked from near Montreal to Quebec City.  We did a mixture of camping, motels, and B&B’s, but you can plan your own itinerary where you can stay in a motel or B&B every night if you wish.  The landscape is beautiful, the French villages along the way are quaint and friendly, and most people speak enough English so you can communicate adequately.  The website is “routeverde.com”, and you can click on “English” and the entire website is instantly translated into English (it’s like magic).  You can use the website to plan a day trip or a week or more itinerary.

Since we had a weather day in Sorel, we went for a bike ride on a portion of the bike trail that we rode last summer. A picture is below.  Sorel is an old industrial town with a huge grain elevator where grain is loaded into ships for transport via the St Lawrence Seaway.  The city looks like it is trying to make a comeback, and there are some quaint old buildings here.

Our first view of the St. Lawrence - YYAAYYY!!

Our first view of the St. Lawrence – YYAAYYY!!

Sunset on the St. Lawrence in Sorel, Quebec

Sunset on the St. Lawrence in Sorel, Quebec

Cooking a gourmet breakfast in the galley - OK, just pancakes, but it felt gourmet to us

Cooking a gourmet breakfast in the galley – OK, just pancakes, but it felt gourmet to us

Tom riding along the bike path in Sorel, Quebec - this off-road path goes for miles and miles and eventually will take you to Quebec City or elsewhere in Quebec

Tom riding along the bike path in Sorel, Quebec – this off-road path goes for miles and miles and eventually will take you to Quebec City or elsewhere in Quebec

A few more interesting historical facts:  You may recall from your high school history that New France (Quebec) was ceded to Britain as a result of the Battle of Quebec in 1759, in which British General James Wolf defeated French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm. Although the battle lasted only an hour, both men died of their injuries. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, ending what is known as the French and Indian War in the US and the Seven Years War elsewhere. The treaty was signed not only by Britain and France, but also by Spain and Portugal, all of whom were warring to gain colonial territory. Most disputed territory was returned to the original owner, except that France was the big loser – France ceded to Britain not only all its holdings in Canada, but also the French West Indies and half of French Louisiana (between the Mississippi and the Appalachain Mountains), and Spain ceded Florida to Britain.  Thus ended French rule in Canada, and Quebec has been part of English-speaking Canada ever since.

After waiting out a rain day on Friday in Sorel, we headed into the St. Lawrence River on Saturday morning – a beautiful, sunny day with fairly light winds on our stern.  The river drains an enormous land area going all the way to the continental divide including all 5 Great Lakes, so the volume of water is stupendous – especially in the Spring.  With a late snow and ice melt and heavy Spring rains, the volume and currents on the river are near record highs.  We ran up-river (against the current) to Montreal, bucking currents which ranged from 1 1/2 to 3 knots (depending on the width, depth, and configuration of the river) most of the way.  However, about 2 miles from Montreal, the river is funneled by a separate shipping channel into a relatively narrow space, so we had to fight a current of 5-6 knots to get to the marina. In addition to the speed of the current, the water swirls and is quite turbulent, pushing the boat around even under full power.  It had our complete attention!  The river itself is now part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and we passed a parade of large, commercial vessels on our way up the river.  These behemouths need a lot of space, so we ran along the edge of the channel whenever one approached, then slowed to absorb the large waves from their wake.

Montreal is an exciting, vibrant city, full of life. We’re docked in the Old Port, right in the heart of the Old City in Montreal, surrounded by pedestrian squares, restaurants with sidewalk dining, street vendors, shops, etc. In addition to being a commercial center and government center, Montreal is a college town, home of McGill University, known as “Harvard of the North”. My daughter Jessie graduated from McGill in 2004, and is now a Lieutenant in the United States Navy JAG Corp (brag, brag). We took a 2 hour bus tour, then had dinner in a sidewalk café in the Old City.  Half of the residents of Montreal are of French heritage and half English, although the French culture clearly dominates the Old City.  Montreal is reportedly the most bilingual city in North America, with 65% of the residents being bilingual and 25% speaking three or more languages (I struggle with just English).  I’m also told that there are 18 miles (yes 18 miles) of shopping underground in Montreal – if you’ve ever been here in the winter, you’ll understand why….   Below are some pictures from our stay here:

A monstrous ship on the St. Lawrence - we didn't argue who had the right of way...

A monstrous ship on the St. Lawrence – we didn’t argue who had the right of way…

Another ship on the St. Lawrence - I could bore you with dozens, but I'll try to restrain myself

Another ship on the St. Lawrence – I could bore you with dozens, but I’ll try to restrain myself

A container ship being off-loaded in Montreal

A container ship being off-loaded in Montreal

Approaching Montreal with anticipation - just before Montreal, the shipping channel separates from the main river due to the currents and the need for locks to bypass the Montreal rapids

Approaching Montreal with anticipation – just before Montreal, the shipping channel separates from the main river due to the currents and the need for locks to bypass the Montreal rapids

The Join Adventure docked at the Old Port in the center of the Old City of Montreal

The Join Adventure docked at the Old Port in the center of the Old City of Montreal

On of many pedestrian squares in Old Montreal - this one immediately next to our dockage in the Old Port

On of many pedestrian squares in Old Montreal – this one immediately next to our dockage in the Old Port

The Olympic Stadium as seen from the top of a hill in Montreal, taken on our bus tour

The Olympic Stadium as seen from the top of a hill in Montreal, taken on our bus tour

Notre Dame Cathedral in the Old City in Montreal

Notre Dame Cathedral in the Old City in Montreal

The spectacular inside of the Notre Dame Cathedral - a must see

The spectacular inside of the Notre Dame Cathedral – a must see

 

The "Lifesaver Building" in Montreal - a welcome relief from ornate, stone buildings or the zoning department asleep at the switch?

The “Lifesaver Building” in Montreal – a welcome relief from ornate, stone buildings or the zoning department asleep at the switch?

One of the seemingly endless old magnificent historic buildings in Montreal

One of the seemingly endless old magnificent historic buildings in Montreal

The biosphere - the dome is dramatic and impressive

The biosphere – the dome is dramatic and impressive

 

 

Tom salivating over a fruit/chocolate/ice cream desert crepe after dinner at a sidewalk café in the Old City

Tom salivating over a fruit/chocolate/ice cream desert crepe after dinner at a sidewalk café in the Old City

Some of Tom’s family will be joining us tonight and crewing through next weekend (YAAYY!) – tomorrow we plan to cast off and head further up the St. Lawrence and into the Ottawa River towards Ottawa.

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