Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Rideau Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway trip

 This is one of the last locks we went through on our Rideau Canal Cruise - The Lower Brewster Lock
This in Kingston, a tribute to Sir John A. MacDonald, our first Prime Minister
This is the furnicular in Quebec City
 I am attaching a copy of Pat's version of our trip:
 We both enjoyed our Eastern Canadian jaunt very well. You may recall we were looking forward to this a year ago, as to book the cruises for the fall colours that's what it takes. Arrangements for the air travel were made through the Visa card points people by telephone this time, and went reasonably well. The first flight to Vancouver was around 8:00 am and was the earliest departure encountered, every other was very civilized. A direct flight to Ottawa landed there mid-afternoon, and we had booked accomodations for overnight. We got one of the shabbier rooms in the place, and probably should have complained, but for one overnight we didn't. A mid-day train took us down to Kingston next day, and we met another couple destined for the Canadian Empress cruise where we were advised to wait if arriving early. Dinner was aboard that evening, and we were guests of St Lawrence Cruise Lines for the next 6 nights among 60-some other passengers.Most were Americans, the rest Canadian. The Thousand Islands lie at the entry to the St Lawrence and have some lavish properties on display. All travel was in daylight, we tied up at various points for the night. Mansions, castles and viewing towers were visited along the way, Upper Canada Village was a highlight. It's a living museum staffed with characters from early times, appropriately costumed and informative of the trades they represented. Pat got behind the scene to view the over-sized clockwork mechanism of the sawmill feeder and reciprocating blade, run by a waterwheel on the millpond below. The flour miller was visited, the tinsmith was entertaining some school students, apprenticed to him for the day making candle-holder wall sconces. The cobbler told us he gets paid, he's not an independantly wealthy eccentric volunteer as was suggested. A horse-drawn wagon took us around the grounds at first, then they turned us loose to wander. The "village people" also wandered around, chatting with each other. As one of the wagon drivers had a lengthy gray beard I was moved to remark he looked more ZZ Top than the Village People!
  A two hour tour of Montreal was included and was very informative. Another tour at Trois Rivieres went to the Shrine of Notre-Dame-Du-Cap. At Quebec City we all disembarked and then we had a couple of days on our own to tour and visit. The hotel we picked from the internet was really good, central to restaurants and central in the old town. We can recommend The Clarendon to other travellers. As with most people spoken to, we agree Quebec City has much to recommend. On the last morning the Funicular ( inclined elevator)  took us down to the lower level of the old town, which has all the tourist shops, and an electric bus got us back up  to our hotel. If the driver was understood the bus has a range of 100 miles and takes 8 hours to recharge. Capacity was about 10 seated and maybe another 4-5 standees. It ran smooth and quiet, and I'm sure seasonally as they bragged about substantial snowfall, and the regular tour bus driver said he too is only seasonal, the topography being among the hilliest this side of San Francisco!
  Trains, and boats and planes! Rail to Montreal, a nice hotel, The Bonaparte in the shadow of Notre Dame Basilica was recommended by the Captain on the Canadian Empress, and we found another city tour and walked about as much as we wanted. McGill University is a major presence in the city, and contributes greatly to the viability of the city core where it is situated. Most places we were greeted in both english and french, and they could continue in either as per our response.
  Ottawa is similarly bilingual. The train had us back there for another couple of nights. This time the upgraded room was specified, a vast improvement over last visit. Good places to eat are everywhere at the Byward Market, between the Hotel and Parliament. They have hop on, hop off busses and trolleys which are a favorite way to see a city, get the layout , then return selectively to the good stuff, this one included an informative cruise for a couple of hours on the Ottawa River. The Museum of Civilization was enjoyed again, over on the Gatineau side. This time we made a point of seeing the Parliament Building, and went up into the Peace Tower. Visability was good despite some overcast skies, Marg took some pictures, not sure how many "keepers". The Museum of Nature was closed when we tried to visit on Monday, before going to meet the next cruise boat.
  The next 5 nights were on board the Ontario Waterways ship Kawartha Voyageur.Again we tied up each night. Smaller by design to fit in the Rideau Canal locks, and under assorted bridges, this one has 47 passengers, all were Canadian, mostly from Ontario, 5 from BC and 2 Newfoundlanders. There were 30-some locks between Ottawa and Kingston, all like parks, as Parks Canada operate the canal. The fall colours were coming along nicely, but not quite peaking, and this was the last cruise for this year. The Rideau River is interconnecting lakes, and where the river isn't navigable due to falls or rapids, there is the canal and locks. All are gravity flow, no pumps, just like when it was first dug by hand , in the 1830's. As a world heritage site the old method of hand-opening and closing the locks continues. The personnel crank up these drums winding up chains that push the gates shut, or open, and similar drums open or close valves to let water in or out. It's primitive, laborious, and a beautifully simple event to witness. Staff from the boat send a tray of coffees and treats of baked goods down to the locks staff at each lock, as they explained the people may sometimes stay on longer or come on early to man the locks as required for the ship to pass. The locks people also operate several swing bridges, stopping road traffic to allow the ship to pass. Some bridges were manually pushed, all were counter-balanced, and my favorites were a couple that needed a stem-winding device, an Iron rod bent 30 degrees which engaged a gear-drive in the middle of the bridge deck. The guy would insert the big handle and walk around in a circle pushing against the handle which turned a small gear under the bridge, turning the small gear engaged with a larger gear attached to the underside of the deck, swinging it around 90 degrees to open the canal. These bridges were mostly single-lane width.
  There had to be a couple of rainy days, nothing serious, and mostly indoor things doing at those times, except when at Fort Wellington near Prescott, Ontario. Walking around Westport in the rain wasn't appealing either, so staying on board was the easier choice.
  Another couple of days in Kingston almost got us into their Chili Festival, it's a very big deal! Between it and a convocation at Royal Military College, rooms were at a premium, a good thing we'd enquired earlier and booked at the Holiday Inn, both ships we travelled on tie up on the doorstep, and there they both were shortly afer our arrival. Another trolley tour showed the points of interest, then we walked about to see some things on our own. Sir John A. MacDonald lived here, they have much history to share, as this was proposed as first capitol of Canada. Queens University is central in the city, lending support to the vitality of the community.
  Another train ride and back to Ottawa for connections to Toronto and home, arriving evening of Tuesday last, October 5th. We were away three weeks in total, returning to a couple of nice sunny days, and now for a day or two of seasonal rain.
 I think that's most of it!  "

  I have quite a few photos that might be keepers.  I will eventually get them added to my web page, but as I am 5 years behind in creating the albums it might be awhile before it gets done.  There is music on that page, so it might load slower.  :-)
The garden is looking pretty good.  The colors are beginning to change.  The lawn is green and needs mowing.  We have had some rain, it seems.  The grapes are ready for eating.  The apple tree is loaded and some have dropped to the ground.  I will collect them and take them over to the deer pasture.  
I have a lot of catching up to do on Megashot too.  That link is my referral code that takes you to the Megashot site to register or look around.  If you register using my referral code I will benefit from it when or if you become a paying member and the same will happen with your account when you invite friends to join using your code.  :-)  There has been a lot of good activity lately in the critique forum and in the communities.
While I was away I discovered that Google had deleted my Adsence account for invalid activity.  Well, I am somewhat disappointed but I can see their point in protecting their advertisers.  I don't know how to get rid of the empty space on my blog where the ads were placed by them just under my post and don't have time to figure it out just now, so I will have to live with that empty space.  Its a good reminder to think before acting with greed and stupidity. 
Ok, I do believe I have found how to remove the space!  I was certainly not going to get rich on Google Ads anyway, but it was fun and interesting to set it up and see how it worked.


KenA said...

Must have been a very nice trip; the photos look appealing.

Maggie said...

it was a really good trip.