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Across the Canadian Prairies
Quebec and the Lake St. John District

A day or two can be passed very pleasantly in Quebec, and the surrounding district. There is scarcely a foot which is not historic ground, and is not consecrated by well-established fact or tradition to the memory of deeds of heroism, of instances of undying piety and faith, from the scene of Champlain’s landing in the lower town, to found his infant colony, to the world-renowned Plains of Abraham above, where Wolfe died to gain, and Montcalm shed his blood in a vain endeavour to save, the half of a continent. The ordinary tourist will find his stay in the Gibraltar of America far too brief to enable him to “take in” all the attractions of the city and its environs, its many historic localities, its churches and convents, its University, with its valuable collection of old paintings, and well-equipped library and museum, and the many beautiful drives and excursions by rail and steamboat to the Falls of Montmorency, Lorette, La Bonne Ste. Anne, Levis, New Liverpool, St. Joseph, and the Island of Orleans.

Quebec stands at the natural head of ocean navigation, but, thanks to the energy and enterprise of the Montrealers, assisted as they have been by the Government, a channel with 27½ feet of water has been made to that city, and the largest ocean-going vessels can now moor alongside the streets of Montreal. This has led to much of the Atlantic trade going beyond Quebec; but all the facilities for an immense business exist, and there is splendid railway accommodation for distribution purposes. There are immense docks, with abundant sidings, and railway lines, modern cranes, warehouses, and a dry dock; and it is disappointing to see that all these advantages remain dormant and unutilised. Quebeckers are, however, expecting great things from the new fast service, the terminus of which will, they hope, be their own city. If this is brought about, it will do much to revive the fallen commercial glories of the place.

Visitors to Quebec should not depart without making the trip down the Saguenay. Formerly to do this it was necessary to take the steamer to Chicoutimi, and return the same way. By the construction of the Lake St. John Railway and its extensions it is now possible to go by railway from Quebec to Chicoutimi (calling at Roberval), taking the steamer at that place for Quebec —a very pleasant and entertaining round trip. For a part of the way the line to Roberval runs through a fairly settled country, dotted with the neat homesteads of the French-Canadians, who appear to be a thriving, contented, and happy community. Village after village is passed; and then the track commences to ascend the Laurentian range of mountains, the Canadian Adirondacks, through picturesque scenery, hilly and wooded, with any number of torrents and streams and lakes, all said to swarm with fish. In fact, it is a sportsman’s Paradise. Fishing and sporting clubs have their club-houses at various noted places, and many a happy week is spent there by the fagged citizens of Quebec, Montreal, and even of American cities. Just before reaching Chambord Junction, the changing place for Roberval, the country opens out again, patches of cultivation are seen, and the grand Lake of St. John comes into view. Roberval is only a short distance away, and its most comfortable summer hotel is largely patronised from June to October. It occupies a splendid position on the shores of the lake, with grand views of the lake and of the surrounding country. "Very pleasant excursions may be made from Roberval, especially for those who want to angle for the lively Ounaniche—a kind of land-locked salmon, a fish which gives great sport. There are also many drives and rides, one of the most delightful being that to the Falls of the Ouiatchouan, the outlet of Lake Bouchette. The waters leap over a rocky precipice to near the level of the lake, not far from its south-western angle. The falls are 230 feet in height, and form a grand picture, the water being lashed into foam against the projecting rocks. North of Roberval, along the main roads, there is a good deal of settlement, and the country appears to be developing. Barley, oats, and hay seem to be the leading crops, but a large number of cattle are raised, and the dairy industry is extending—cheese factories and creameries being seen along the highways here and there. There is a quaintness about these villages and the people which requires to bo seen to be appreciated.

All along the railway, from Roberval to Chicoutimi, the country is of the same character. About four miles before reaching the town, the first view of the River of Death, as Bayard Taylor calls the Saguenay, is obtained, and it lies 300 feet below the line. Three miles further on, the train crosses a bridge 60 feet high, over a picturesque ravine, through which the Chicoutimi River rushes on its way to join the Saguenay. The trip down the river to Tadousac—68 miles —is not easy to describe. It is difficult to find words to express in any adequate way the grandeur of the scene. Professor Roberts says:—“The Saguenay can hardly be called a river. It is rather a stupendous chasm, from one to two and a-half miles in width, doubtless of earthquake origin, cleft for 65 miles through the high Laurentian plateau. Its walls are an almost unbroken line of naked cliffs of syenite and gneiss. Its depth is many hundred feet greater than that of the St. Lawrence; indeed, if the St. Lawrence were drained dry, all the fleets of the world might float in the abyss of the Saguenay, and yet find anchorage in only a few places.” The Indian name of the river is Pitchitonichez, but as to how it is pronounced the reader must form his own conclusion. Everybody has heard of Ha! Ha! Bay, and Capes Trinity and Eternity. From Cape Eternity to Tadousac the scenery is of the most sublime grandeur. The river is just sufficiently winding and indented with bays to cause a new panorama of splendour to open out as each immense cape is rounded. From Tadousac to Quebec we are on the familiar St. Lawrence again.

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