I’ve been in Eastern Canada less than 24 hours and I’ve already eaten veal liver twice. I had it once yesterday at the Toronto airport because it was recommended by the waitress, (maybe it was difficult to move) and I had it again last night for dinner at a trendy little restaurant on St. Jean Street in Quebec City, called the Hobbit — the Hobbit Bistro.
And I can say, although the price was a bit higher, the Quebec veal liver was better than the Ontario veal liver. My wife might argue however. The only liver she likes is something that is between 50 and 75 feet away from where she is eating. She hates liver, can’t understand why anyone would eat it. I just feel sorry for her and the fact that she is missing out on such a tasty dish.
I didn’t come to Quebec City just for the food, but it is one good excuse. I am here for the national awards event of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers. Everyone said “you will love Quebec City” so I thought I better check out some of the sights.
And it is pretty neat. Took a city tour this morning and that travelled into the old part of Quebec City, which they started building more than 300 years ago. We passed by the oldest original building now a restaurant that was built sometime in the late 1600s.
We also visited The Citadel which was a walled fort protecting the city of Quebec City from those annoying English. (Quebec is an Indian word for “where the water narrows”…the city is at the narrowest point of the St. Lawrence River –still about 2400 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, Quebec is built on an escarpment where the St. Lawrence is less than a mile wide. )
We saw the Plains of Abraham, which was the site of the battle between Wolfe and Montcalm. (For some reason a painting of that battle hung in the one-room schoolhouse in Eastern Ontario I attended as a kid. I looked at it for eight years always feeling sorry seeing poor old Wolfe draw his last breath). I always thought the reference to Abraham was something biblical. No. It is the last name of the first pilot helping navigate ships through shallow waters of the river.
We stopped at the Quebec National Assembly building, then the Fairmont Frontenac Hotel… that is an impressive old hotel as were all of those old CP Rail hotels. About the only thing agricultural I saw in the morning was the large Bunge grain terminal at the Quebec City port.
In the afternoon we travelled to the island of Orleans, which is just outside of Quebec City. We stopped at the Montmorency River waterfall which is 1.5X taller than Niagara Falls. It isn’t a very wide river, but the water comes roaring over the top of that cliff and drops 272 feet. That’s compared to Niagara Falls, which drops about 180-some feet.
Then we travelled up the highway a bit, actually drove on the oldest road in Canada called the Kings Highway (also known as the Chemin du Roy, which they started building in 1706)….It passes through the town of Saint Anne de Beaupre and there we stopped at the Basilica of Saint Anne de Beaupre.
I had heard of this church and shrine, but knew little about it. Even though we weren’t Catholic my parents had visited there on a bus trip years ago. Once again I have to say, the Catholics sure know how to build a church.
The original structure was a shrine built in 1658. That was destroyed and replaced with a basilica that opened in 1876 and then that was destroyed
in a fire in 1922. Determined to have this place of worship, the church commissioned the current basilica, which they started building in 1926 and completed in 1946.
What an impressive structure in this little town of about 5,000 people that hosts about one million visitors a year who come to shrine at the Basilica. Inside the front doors is a display of crutches and canes from the faithful who have made the pilgrimage to the church and left these walking aids in hopes that Saint Anne will cure them of their ailments.
It is a huge church. There is the main sanctuary or worship area on the main floor and then you go downstairs and there is almost an equally large workship area with altars and everything on the lower level.
I didn’t even know who Saint Anne was or her claim to fame. Apparently, the fact that she was the grandmother of Jesus was enough to warrant her being made a saint. You can’t argue with those credentials. And the church is beautiful.
That pretty well wrapped up a full day of touring except for a stop at Chez Marie’s in the community of Chateau –Richer, QC where the family has been baking bread and cinnamon buns for about 100 years. And yes I had a cinnamon bun and yes I would strongly recommend you stop and try one if you are in the area. After visiting the basilica we felt it was okay to try something sinful.
Tomorrow it is the Outstanding Young Farmer competition…they said I can have a whole seat, but I’ll only need the edge. More on that to follow.
Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]