Saturday, June 30, 2012

Montreal and the St. Lawrence Seaway

June 18-20, 2012

We arrived in Montreal at the Port d’Escale in the Old Port section of the city.  Beautiful marina, the most nicely appointed marina we’ve stayed in so far.  And the location was terrific, right at the base of the old town.


We took a walk with Ken and Pat (20 Buck$) who had arrived earlier in the day.  It was hot, so we found a place to sit outside and have a beer.  It wasn’t hard to find one – that part of Montreal is loaded with outdoor bars, restaurants and cafes.


Later, we ran into Stephen and Charlotte (Jackets II), who had arrived after we did and had found their way to another outdoor cafe for a cold beer.  We all agreed that we’d meet later for dinner.  We ate here, outside on the covered patio.  Very nice.


After dinner, we walked some more around the Old Town.  We ate ice cream by a fountain next to the impressive Montreal City Hall.


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Those are the Quebec province, Canada and Montreal city flags above.

As we started walking back towards the boats, we stopped to watch a street performer who was just beginning to set up his show in the middle of Place Jacques-Cartier, the sort of “Main Street” of the Old Town.


Before long, both Ken and Craig had been pulled into the act.  Along with a young man from China, an older man from Egypt, a man from Africa and a young boy from Quebec, they performed as instructed for about 45 minutes, and drew quite a crowd. Unfortunately, it was beginning to get dark, so it was hard to get good pictures of these fast moving dancers, but you will probably get the essence of it.  Can’t remember when I’ve laughed so hard!

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Craig’s solo.  He was told to portray Rocky from the movie, and then roar like a lion when he was finished. The crowd was impressed!


After an exciting night like that, we took the next day at a slower pace, catching up on some boat work and running a few errands. After lunch we visited the magnificent Basilica Notre-Dame, a must-see for anyone visiting Montreal.  What a beautiful cathedral!




After visiting the Basilica, we stopped at another outdoor cafe and had a beer and chocolate mousse, a perfect combination!


That evening we had a visit from Dennis and Pierre, two of Craig’s former Hyco Canada colleagues.  We had an enjoyable evening with them and after wine time on the boat, went out to dinner in the Old Town.  It was so nice of them to make the drive to see us.



The next morning, after making several calls to the lockmaster at the big commercial St. Lambert lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway just beyond Montreal, we were told that if we came right away, we could proceed through the lock. But when we got there, we were told we needed to tie up and wait for the commercial traffic which had priority.  We waited from 9:30 in the morning until 3:15 in the afternoon!   It was very hot, so we all just retreated to our boats, turned on our generators and ran the air-conditioning.  It was a very frustrating day!

This was one of the ships that passed through the lock while we waited.  They were a lot bigger than us!


When the lockmaster finally turned on the green light and yelled through the loudspeaker that it was our turn, the four waiting pleasure boats revved up our engines and started entering the huge 1,000 foot lock.  Almost immediately, the voice on the loudspeaker became very urgent and sounded really annoyed, but he was speaking French, so we had no idea what he was saying.  The lead boat in our group decided he must have been telling us to go faster, so we hurried into the lock. Later, the one French-speaking boat in the group told us that the lockmaster was yelling that he had changed his mind and wanted us to go back to the waiting dock.  This was a case of ignorance is bliss, because there was no way we were going to turn around and wait even longer!

To our surprise and relief, even with the long delay we were able to make it through the next and final Seaway lock that afternoon.  We were glad to have those locks behind us, and the experience made us appreciate even more the friendly, helpful lock keepers along the canals.

We pulled into our destination of St-Anne-de-Bellevue just before sunset.  We tied to the lock wall below the St-Anne lock and decided to stay in that pretty town for the next two days. After the day we’d just had, none of us was keen to head off again the next morning!

Next: St-Anne-de-Bellevue and the Ottawa River.

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