Our North American RV Tour – Ottawa & Montreal

Buddy, Lynda & I, The Canada 150 years of confederation sign.
Buddy, Lynda & I, The Canada 150 years of confederation sign.
Wednesday, September 13 – Day 16
The next morning and another sunny day as we are off to Ottawa to see the sights. Taking public transit was not an option according to John, Ottawa’s transit system is unorganized.
Ralph kindly drove again, I need to take a turn soon. My truck also seats 6 although with a full size box its a couple of feet longer. Henry’s truck has room for 5 so taking the entire group is not an option.
We left for Ottawa after 9 am hoping to miss the worst of rush hour.
Parking was an issue, John’s suggestion, underground parking was almost a disaster, Ralph’s truck came close to getting stuck in the underground the ceiling was too low. Lucky the attendant stopped us and helped us get out.
Outside parking was our only option, but every parking lot was full. After circling downtown Ottawa we spotted another driver leaving a spot, we grabbed it.
Our day in Ottawa was interesting, plenty of walking while taking in the magnificent architecture of the parliament buildings and the Chateau Laurier an amazing hotel near parliament hill.
The Rideau canal was narrower than I expected, although interesting, we watched as a small boat climbed through the locks making its way toward Lake Ontario.
The 202 kilometer long Rideau Waterway, connects Canada’s capital city on the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River near Kingston, Ontario. It is also famous for winter ice skating.
We brought Buddy along, but we soon realized it was a mistake, too warm and scary for our little guy. Raised in our rural lake community he is not accustomed to city noise and congestion. He’ll spend the rest of the day trips at camp.
Unfortunately, we missed the tour of the parliament buildings, a limited number of tickets are issued daily, they were gone by the time we arrived.
After walking around Parliment Hill we continued to the Byward Market for lunch and Beaver Tail pastry for dessert, a must have in Ottawa.
Canada's Parliament, Ottawa Ontario
Canada’s Parliament, Ottawa Ontario
The Chateau Laurier, Ottawa Ontario
The Chateau Laurier, Ottawa Ontario
The Rideau, Ottawa Ontario
The Rideau, Ottawa Ontario
Byward Market, Ottawa Ontario
Byward Market, Ottawa Ontario
Henry & Allyson enjoying a Beaver Tail
Henry & Allyson enjoying a Beaver Tail
After the market Ralph, Henry and I headed for the Canadian War Museum while the women explored ice cream shops and boutiques.
The museum is full of interesting exhibits featuring military weapons. The museum points out even a somewhat passive country like Canada does indeed belong to the violent waring human race.
After the museum, it was time to make our way back to camp. A stop and go turtle race was the result of leaving downtown Ottawa before the end of rush hour.
Sitting in traffic gives one time to reflect, we vowed to stay later when visiting large cities rather than endure the rush hour. The ladies unanimously approved, I’m sensing an ulterior motive……… dinner out……….no cooking.
We arrived home before dark, enjoyed a glass of wine and a dinner of leftovers from the potluck dinner the previous night.
John and Jan did not return home that evening, they planned to spend a couple of days working on their cottage on nearby White Lake.
John & Jan's backyard, Ottawa, Canada
Our hosts John & Jan’s backyard, Ottawa, Canada
Boondockers Welcome - free camping with other RVers click the link above to check it out
Boondockers Welcome – free camping with other RVers click the link above to check it out
Thursday, September 14 – Day 17
The next morning, we’re off to another ‘Boondocker Welcome’ host near Montreal, Quebec. First a fuel stop and free RV dump directions supplied by John. Fuel prices have been consistent so far varying between $1.10 and $1.00 per liter.
The landscape has not changed much since we entered Ontario, cities are skirted by rolling farmland and forests of coniferous trees with the odd lake. The drive from Ottawa to Granby, Quebec our next boondocking spot was ordinary until we reached the outskirts of Montreal and road construction.
Entering the province of Quebec is like crossing into a foreign country. Different language, different culture, no English signs only French, even though Canada has two official languages.
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French-Canadians are determined to preserve their culture and heritage at all costs, a movement to separate from Canada often becomes headline news.
Event traffic lights operate differently than the rest of Canada, a flashing green light, we think means right of way. Speed limits seem to be a guideline, not a law. Quebecers drive like maniacs, you need your head on a swivel.
Even though it was midday the traffic was heavy but moving well. Driving through the construction zones was a little unnerving, but Henry, Ralph and I with help from our navigators are equal to the task.
Granby is located about an hour east of Montreal. We took highway 40 through the city and onto Granby. We arrived mid-afternoon at a surprise location.
So far, our ‘Boondockers Welcome’ host has been rural property. This one is behind a large car wash and detail shop.
A bit of a shocker to the group, silence as we pulled off the highway and parked. Our host Ivan came out of the shop to greet us, his warm welcome helped us adjust to our new surroundings. Ivan offered several areas to park, we picked a large grassy area behind his shop near his house.
Ivan's rig in front of his detailing shop
Ivan’s rig in front of his detailing shop
Boondockers Welcome free overnight parking with other RVers click the link above to check it out.
Boondockers Welcome free overnight parking with other RVers click the link above to check it out.
The guys and I set up camp for our two-night stay while the women went for their customary tour of the neighborhood. After we settled in Ivan came for a visit, providing interesting information about the area and the best way to travel to Montreal.
Yvan travels the world teaching vehicle detailing. The guys and I were astonished that there exists such a trade. According to Ivan in Arab countries you are more likely to receive a traffic ticket for a dirty car than speeding, …….go figure?
Since the conception of the trip, Henry has insisted part of our experience in Quebec is trying ‘poutine’ a French-Canadian tradition. Ivan insisted a small restaurant nearby serves ‘the best poutine in the world’. His recommendation changed our dinner plans to this delicacy of French fries, gravy and cheese curds.
Our first poutine experience, Granby Quebec
Our first poutine experience, Granby Quebec
“The best poutine in the world”, Henry didn’t agree. Our poutine dinner was a bit of a disappointment, the curds resembled chunks of rubber and the gravy more of a thin colored fat.
The French fries were the best part until they became soaked in the gravy. We have two stops in Canada’s French quarter, Montreal and Quebec City and at least one more opportunity to try poutine.
Thursday, September 14 – Day 17
Iconic architecture old town Montreal
Iconic architecture old town Montreal
Our day in Montreal. The sun is warm and the humidity high as we left Granby for Montreal, retracing our previous day’s route. The 70-kilometer drive to Montreal seemed quick through light late morning traffic.
Our destination was supposed to be The Metro Train, instead, the GPS took us to the Metro grocery store. A  quick call to my On-Star navigation assistant and the mistake was rectified.
Seconds after ending the call the address and directions appeared on our truck navigation system. You gotta love modern technology. A couple minutes later we arrive at the right Metro.
The gang, Montreal on the St. Lawrence River
The gang, Montreal on the St. Lawrence River, no Allyson
Finding our way around a train station when you don’t  understand the signage is a bit of a challenge, but after speaking to a bi-sexual ticket agent we were on the train heading to Montreal. Sorry, I guess it should be bi-lingual.
It seems the farther east we drive the more interesting the cities become. Old Montreal on the banks of the St. Lawrence River has many modern and historic attractions from a huge Ferris wheel on the banks of the river to ancient churches in the center of town.
Every town has at least one church most have several. I am from the west where churches are not as prominent, I guess the west has fewer sinners?
Beautiful old town Montreal
Beautiful old town Montreal
A beautiful sunny day as we wandered along narrow cobblestone streets between old stone buildings and sidewalk cafes. Old Montreal has a European feel with town squares, sidewalk bands, statues, and museums.
The city was busy but not crowded, it seems early fall is a good time to visit.
We stopped at a sidewalk café for lunch of famous Montreal smoked meat, fries and beer. Totally enjoyable soaking up the sunshine on a warm late summer day.
Apparently, a visit to Montreal must include a stroll down Saint Catherine’s Street an area of sights and sounds not experienced anywhere else. The only way I can describe the area without becoming politically incorrect, ‘an area of alternate lifestyles’.
St. Catherin's St. Montreal, Canada
St. Catherin’s St. Montreal, Canada
We enjoyed afternoon treats of ice cream and refreshing sangria, a mixture of wine, seven up, rum liqueur, fruit juice and fruit perfect on a balmy day.
Before long the sun dipped behind the city skyline signaling time to return to camp.
We made our way back to the subway which took us under the river back to the truck. The return drive to Granby began in heavy rush hour traffic but soon thinned out and another French-Canadian race was on. This time I vowed to keep up with the French, 130 kph. got us home quickly.
An excited Buddy dog greeted us with playful jumping and yelping even though we left him cooped up in the trailer for many hours, instant forgiveness.
The group enjoyed a glass of wine recapping the day’s adventures as the evening temperature cooled bringing a blanket of low fog.
Montreal unfortunately, enjoys our presence for one day, tomorrow we are off to another boondocker host, a maple syrup ranch near Quebec City.
 If you would like to read about our tour from the beginning click this link.

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Next article our visit to Quebec City, the only walled city in North America.

Thanks for visiting.

Gord B.

 

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