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The Idle American
"Quebec City Links Old and New..."
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 • Posted August 1, 2013

“I really miss the seasons.” That’s a lament commonly heard from folks transplanted here who failed to get the memo that Mother Nature’s hop-scotch across Texas’ weather map is guaranteed—often daily. She chuckles at the mention of seasons in the Lone Star State.

On our continent, however, are climes worthy of poster board homage to spring, summer, autumn and winter. Québec City—provincial capital of Québec—is such a place. There, more than a half-million people claim distinctive seasons, breath-taking topography and immense national pride.

Had Norman Rockwell lived there, he’d have been so taken with the folks, flora, fauna and funicular*, thousands of magazine covers would have flown off his easels. The heralded artist for the Saturday Evening Post could have turned out prize-winning works on a daily basis….

    *****

During our recent four-day visit prior to boarding Holland America’s Veendam for its Canada/New England cruise, our minds were blank slates. We had never visited eastern Canada.

A favorite radio program during growing-up years, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, stirred in my memory. It painted vivid audio pictures of his gallant, never-ending pursuit of truth and justice alongside the always white-hatted Canadian Mounted Police.

Not once did we see uniformed law enforcement officers—-mounted or unmounted—in one of the world’s safest cities. Visitors eager to see uniformed sentries need only visit the Citadel, an ongoing military garrison where guards stand at rapt attention in the same manner as at England’s Buckingham Palace….

    *****

We saw hoards of public school students visiting points of interest in the school year’s waning hours. There is far more to take in than most “in-takes” allow, what with its rich 405-year history.

There were reminders at every turn—museums, statues, cathedrals, parks and the formidable Citadel stone wall that is up to 25 feet thick.

Nestling between two rivers—the St. Lawrence and the St. Charles—are both an old and new Québec City. The British won the Battle of 1759 over the French—on paper, anyway. Otherwise, “Francophones” prevail. (And no, this is NOT a band instrument nor a Paris pay phone.) Upwards of 95% of the folks speak French primarily, sweetening the air with one of the world’s most beautiful languages….

    *****

Native Americans proved centuries ago that the ravaging winters can be dealt with. The Hurons still have a strong presence, prospering in Wendake, a community in Québec City. It features a reservation with wide-ranging programming and unique activities.

Resourceful and talented, they fought winter’s savagery on equal terms, followed by spring renewals, summer’s flowering abundance and autumn’s signature color-changing of leaves—all ordained by God.

In a similar manner, residents in the nearby île d’Orléans (“Garden of Québec”) faithfully preserve their island of some 100 square miles. Worthy of ongoing applause are folks who tend small farms, dairies, wineries and, of course, tap trees for the precious sap that yields maple syrup. Some products new to us have “iced” on labels, ie., ice cider, made, of course, from frozen apples….

    *****

A view from high in the Québec Hilton provided a view of the city and river that bade us “be still.” We could fathom “laid back” for the summer season, assured that “frozen forward” rules almost half of the year. Our eyes often settled on a nearby park—one of many—where green lawns flourish and locals gather. They bring children, pallets, Frisbies and dogs. Much seems right with their world.

Québec City is a grand place to celebrate life. This is particularly so for youth and other sports-minded individuals who happily claim all 12 months. They revel in skiing—both water and snow—and multiple other sports.

For the rest of us, it is a city to be savored. If the hills seem a bit too challenging, we can hitch a cheap ride on the funicular* to ascend from shore side shops to the city’s upper parts 252 feet above. The thought of departing QC is a sad one, gladdened by the prospect of one day returning to see wintry majesty and dozens of other places that couldn’t be crowded into four days….

    *****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

    *Oh, yes. The funicular has been operative for 134 years. Its tram cars ride rails of 45 degrees, an option to a mighty steep staircase. (More info at www.québecregion.com)

Greeter in Québec City dressed as Samuel de Champlain, who founded “New France” in 1608 (there’s also a “Great Lake” named for him).

Montmorency Falls, near Québec City, is 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls.

An expansive view of the city and St. Lawrence River from high in Québec Hilton Hotel.

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