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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"O Canada" Part II

Next to the fabled Montmorency Falls
Which are, as advertized, higher than Niagara.
Lunch at an ancient house with a water mill
On the Ile d'Orleans in the river.

Captive customers, as always on a tour,
We did delight in the visit to a sugar shack
On the island, reminiscent of similar establishments
In Vermont and New Hampshire.

At the park that was the Plains of Abraham,
One could visualize the half hour battle that
Killed both generals, Montcalm and Wolfe,
And resulted in Canada passing to British domination.

Immediately after the ship docked in Montreal,
We were treated to a lengthy tour of the city,
Including a ride to the top of Mount Royal
And the faux London suburb of West Mount.

The French language signs throughout Montreal
Are literal translations of their English counterparts
And thus easy to read and follow.
All the hospitality people spead idiomatic English.

But the British influence seems sadly gone.
The Black Watch Regiment Armoury was deserted.
Only the Anglican churches cling to old ways
With scheduled services for tiny congregations.

We attended a lengthy Sunday service at St. James the Apostle,
With a baptism of three infants by the lady Canon Rector.
The plaque on the walls of St. James and the cathedral
Paid tribute to Canadians in both World Wars; and
Listed the rectors and bishops of the Anglican diocese.

Starved for art, we hied up to the Musee des Beaux-Arts,
Only to find the major collections closed,
Save for a fascinating private exhibit
Of Napoleon paintings and artifacts.

The weather was very warm and humid for Montreal.
Droves of students from McGill and Laval swarmed the streets.
Best of all were the restaurants, featuring
Simple dishes prepared elegantly.

"O Canada" Part I

Hurricane Irene jeoparized the entire cruise.
But just before it bore down on Boston,
The M.S. Maasdam escaped to the North Atlantic,
Bearing its cargo of 1200 intrepid passengers.

Despite the problems of the weather,
We would commend Holland America Line
For cheerful service in adversity.
Most enjoyable was being seated at dinner
With different groups from
Canada, Scotland, and various U.S. points.

Alas, three ports of call were cancelled:
Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia
Were in the path of the storm, its high winds and rain.
Thus the first landing was on charming Prince Edward Island.

Of course, that tour had to include Anne of Green Gables,
Or rather the putative house of a fictitious heroine.
Surprisingly, the province resembles Cape Cod
In its extensive beaches and rolling landscape.

Sailing down the St. Lawrence River panorama,
We spied Joan and Tim's house on the bluff.
Immediately, the red roof of the hotel,
And the harbor of Tadoussac came into view.

Saguenay was a last minute, unplanned stop.
The locals welcomed us enthusiastically at the pier,
But the tour was to an odd mix of company towns,
Industrial installations, and the Victorian homes of their nabobs.
Still, not many other people can say that they have visited
Bagotville, Saguenay, Chicoutimi, and Jonquieres!

The all-day excursion into and around Quebec was a gem.
First, a walking tour of the old village
Where Benedict Arnold almost conquered Canada.
Next to the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre.

Never mind that Mary's mother is not mentioned in the bible.
She has a huge basilica built in her honor
Where she performs miraculous cures, and
Receives donations from thousands of pilgrims.