Icefishing, Poutine, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier

(Lachute, Québec, Canada)

We are now slowly making our way home.  We decided to travel west from Quebec City on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River…but not on the fast, busy Autoroute 40.  Instead, we took our time on Route 138, also known as the Chemin du Roy.   It took us through a series of smaller communities that we would otherwise never have a chance to visit.

Birdhouses in Portneuf, Québec

Lunchtime found us in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec.  We had never heard of this town, let alone set foot in it.  However, a few minutes in the tourist office made it clear that this was the self-styled Ice Fishing Capital of the World!  Obviously, there was little evidence of this on a warm August day, but we saw plenty of winter pictures showing hundreds upon hundreds of ice fishing huts on the Sainte-Anne River.   Who knew?

Typical house in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec

The only large city on our route was Trois-Rivières.  We did not have high hopes, as some other similarly-sized cities in Quèbec seemed to have fallen on hard times.  But Trois-Rivières appeared to be doing well:  the streets downtown were closed off because there was some kind of Grand Prix auto race taking place.  Alas, we were unable to stick around for that evening’s gala outdoor concert or the Symphonic Beatles show that was playing at a downtown theatre.

Downtown Trois-Rivières, on Grand Prix weekend

That night, we stayed in a small roadside motel “somewhere west of Trois-Rivières”.  It was a deliberate cost-saving measure, as the preceding night’s stay and the next two nights were all at hotels that exceeded our usual budget.   We were happy to move on from the motel, but also happy that being thrifty that night allowed us to indulge ourselves a bit more on the other days.

The Sir Wilfrid Laurier National Historic Site in Saint-Lin–Laurentides, Québec

The next day found us in another “Prime Ministerial” town: Saint-Lin-Laurentides, the hometown of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.  Laurier was Prime Minister of Canada for 15 years and the site of his childhood home is now a National Historic Site.  While his actual home no longer exists, the current house is very similar to what Laurier would have called home.  Key impression:  the ceilings and doorways are very low!  We often had to duck and dodge to avoid beaning ourselves.

The last stop before our final destination for the day was the city of Lachute.  I was surprised to see that a big rodeo (charmingly subtitled as the “Festival du Cowboy” – see photo at the top of this post) was coming up in a few days.   While we didn’t get a chance to see the rodeo, we did have a chance to indulge in Quèbec’s most famous contribution to fast food:  the artery-clogging poutine.

Poutine Italienne (Lachute, Québec)

Poutine can now be found all over Canada:  the standard formulation is french fries covered with cheese curd and gravy.  It’s best not to think of the calories involved.   I don’t generally eat poutine, as I am not really a fan of gravy.  Alas, there is a poutine for everybody…and mine is Poutine Italienne.  It’s the same as regular poutine, except that the gravy is replaced by a tomato and meat sauce.  How could I resist?

Poutine Italienne: the halfway point (Lachute, Québec)

As you can see from the photos, I was able to find this delicacy in Lachute at a take-out place called “O’Frites”.  I was extraordinarily thirsty afterwards but nonetheless felt good about consuming the Dream Team (pizzaghetti and poutine) of Quèbec fast food during the same trip.  Luckily, our next stop would allow me to work some of this off…stay tuned for the details!