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Ontario and Quebec Provinces



Family.jpg (41939 bytes) A picture of my parents and sister at one of our stops along our trip we took September 2000, with Holidays Tours. Due to bus problems we did not leave at the appointed hour of 6:30 a.m. Our original bus, already loaded with us and our belongings was experiencing air conditioning problems. We loaded onto another bus and finally got underway by 7:30.

Our first destination was Wheeling, WV. After arriving around 4:30 and checking into our hotel, the bus took  us to downtown for our buffet dinner and show at Jamboree, USA. The entertainer slated for that night was Billy Ray Cyrus who, performing in skin tight leather pants, showed us as much of his rear as his front.

The next morning we drove to Niagara Falls, Canada. We arrived around 2:30 and checked into our hotel. We had the afternoon and evening free of any planned activity. Since we were staying very near the Falls a  quick walk down the hill and there they were. niagara1.jpg (25396 bytes)  I took dozens of pictures, so these are just a few samples. It was very hazy that afternoon which is why they are not very clear.

After taking in the breathtaking views, we decided to go on the Maid of the Mist boat ride up the river and right to the Horseshoe Falls. After getting tickets everyone goes down a ramp to a building with three elevators that take everyone down to river level. We  exited the elevators onto another ramp where you are given a blue plastic poncho to wear niagara5pg.jpg (42662 bytes) and then line  up to board the boat. niagara6pg.jpg (26177 bytes) We first passed the American Falls niagara3jpg.jpg (22185 bytes) and Widow Falls and then continued on up river to Horseshoe Falls, which is on the Canadian side. niagara2.jpg (25978 bytes) A large island above the Falls separates the two as they are fed from Lake Ontario. As you get closer to the falls the spray and wind is like being in a hurricane and you will soon get drenched, thus the ponchos.

niagara7pg.jpg (18511 bytes) I managed to get a couple of quick pictures before putting the camera under my rain gear to keep it dry. As the boat turned right at the falls to head back I shot this one. 

It was very hot and humid and being wrapped in plastic made it even worse so our cloths were pretty damp. The ponchos can be kept, so we walked back up the hill for a change of cloths and to dump the ponchos. It was now time to look for something to eat. We finally settled on a restaurant that offered a view of the Falls and the garden right across the street from the Falls viewing area.

niagara4jpg.jpg (43276 bytes)   After we ate, we were walking down the hill through the gardens to go back o the Falls to see them lighted when it gets dark. As we were going through the gardens it began to rain. We took shelter in one of the garden alcoves but after twenty minutes it did not show signs of letting up. 

Mom headed back to the room and we continued down to the viewing area to a sheltered area underneath the scenic walkway with a fast food place and some seating to get out of the rain. It was now well past dark and still no lights. Meanwhile it is pouring rain, lightning and thundering so we could not go back to the room anyway without getting soaked.

Finally at 8:30 p.m. a white light beamed on the falls. Every ten minutes a different color would appear but they never got very bright or pretty. We were somewhat disappointed. It was now 9:30 p.m. and we needed to get back to the room, rain or not. We got wet again and had clothing hanging all over the room to dry so we could pack in the morning.

Our morning schedule every day, except one, was a wakeup call at 6:00, luggage in the hall at 7:00 and on the bus at 8:00.

Monday morning dawned cloudy but no rain as we boarded the bus, along with our local guide, to give us a tour of Niagara Falls city and surrounding communities. The tour was to last for four hours and the guide was very good. Our first stop was an observation point at the top of the Horseshoe Falls.niagara8pg.jpg (31570 bytes)  Both the American and Canadian sides harness the river for Hydroelectric power.

You can see the Canadian power station niagara10pg.jpg (33312 bytes) in the background of this photo. The American one is further down the river on the American side. Our guide told us many wonderful stories such as dumping the "Old Scow" and about people who went over the falls or high wired across. There is also an elaborate sixteen gate system that can control how much water from Lake Ontario can be fed to the Falls at one time.

Our next stop was the location of where the original Falls were millions of years ago. Due to erosion and other factors they have moved backwards to their present site. This is also the point where the Niagara Rivers turns the corner creating a whirlpool. niagara11pg.jpg (48366 bytes)   niagara12pg.jpg (39057 bytes) and where the Spanish Aero Car  that goes back and forth across the Falls. We did not ride this.

Next stop was Welland Canal,  located right outside the city limits. To get to the Locks at the Canal we drove over a vertical lift bridge, which I had never seen before. We then proceeded to drive through very pretty vineyard and orchard country and small communities as our guide pointed our various things of interest. Niagara16.jpg (54156 bytes)  This was our lunch stop in the small community of Virgil. As you can see from the sign it is a combination bakery, general store, and restaurant. niagara13pg.jpg (52762 bytes)  That's mom waving from the little eating area. The sandwiches and baked goods were delicious. In addition to the orchard, there was a pond with some very large gold fish niagara14pg.jpg (38085 bytes) looking for something to eat from the tourists. Our last stop before going back to the hotel to drop off the guide was to seeniagara15pg.jpg (38610 bytes) the famous floral clock. 

Note: I have a couple of links to a very good web site on Niagara Falls. This is an excellent site to learn more about the history and geology of the Falls in addition to the attractions.

The bus trouble had reared its ugly head again. The belt was slipping and causing the bus to over heat. We stood around in the parking lot of the hotel while our very experienced driver proceeded to fix the problem. Back on the bus to drive on to Toronto.

TorontoCNTower.jpg (24409 bytes)  We arrived in Toronto around two thirty for our visit to the CN Tower. This is the worlds tallest building at a height of 1,815 ft., 5 inches and is located in downtown Toronto next to the Expos' baseball stadium. I am not a big fan of heights or glass elevators that ride on the outside of buildings. But, I overcame by cowardliness and agreed to go up. Some of our group chose not to go.

I am glad I did. The ride up takes two minutes but I closed my eyes until we got to the top. You exit the elevator into a large, glass windowed room 1,122 ft above the ground overlooking the entire city and outlying areas of Ontario. Torontofromtower.jpg (65025 bytes) This is one of the pictures I took out the windows looking out over the city and beyond. I did not walk on, or look down from, the glass floor nor go outside and walk along the observation area. There is also a restaurant in the room and a small souvenir shop.

The ride down too a minute and I very bravely opened my eyes. We exited into a gift shop, of course, where I purchased several post cards of the tower as it was very hard to get a good picture. We then drove through the large city of Toronto to our hotel right outside the city.

After checking in to our room we walked down the street to the Swiss Chalet and had a very nice meal. The hotel fitness room was pretty useless but I ran on the treadmill and did some free weight work. Before going back to the room I stopped at the pay phone and called a fellow AIIP member that lives in Toronto. We had met back in April at the conference in Washington, DC. Not knowing our itinerary until the last minute, I told her if I had time I would give her a call. We had a nice chat and I hope to visit her and her fine city again once we relocate to New Hampshire.

Next morning, Tuesday, we headed for the town of  Kingston, ON. This is a very old city and was the first capitol of Canada. Unfortunately we did not have much of a chance to explore the city. We arrived at our hotel located right at the water front where we would be going on a lunch cruise up the St. Lawrence River and around the Thousand Islands.

Cruiseboat.jpg (30343 bytes) The Thousand Island lunch cruise lasted three hours. In addition to lunch we had a guitar player, and as you can see from this picture, Cruiseboat2.jpg (33920 bytes) several men in our group chose to participate in one of the songs. That is my dad on the far right standing next to the steward in the white blouse.

The islands are made up of many small islands upon which one or more houses have been built. Islands.jpg (21967 bytes)   Islands2.jpg (30073 bytes) We again had misty, rainy weather and many of my shots did not come out very well. I took some from the observation deck of the boat and some from inside the cabin where we ate.

We returned to the dock about 3:30, which gave us a little time to explore the city around the water front. I found a real used book store, so of course the family lost me for about an hour while they continued walking around. I found a history of Montreal and Kingston, history of a Newfoundland family and a biography of one of my favorite nature writers, R.D. Lawrence. We ate at one of the water front restaurants and then headed back to the room to prepare for tomorrow. 

We left Kingston Wednesday morning for Montreal. Between traffic, one way streets, and room to maneuver the bus it  took quite a long time to get to our hotel once we reached the city. It turns out we were staying in Chinatown. I found that to be a bit ironic to be in a  French Canadian town staying in a Holiday Inn in Chinatown complete with pagodas on top. Quebechoteljpg.jpg (57584 bytes) This is the restaurant where we ate breakfast the next morning. We chose to eat dinner in the Pizza Hut, also in the hotel, and had a very good meal.

We could not check in to our hotel, so the bus took us over a couple of blocks and parked near the  Place Jacques-Cartier, a street lined on both sides with outdoor cafes, street musicians, and shops. We had a hard time making up our minds but finally settled on Terrasse du Paro. 

We then picked up our bus tour guide at three o'clock for a tour of the city of Montreal. He was a native of Montreal and former history teacher and did a wonderful three hour tour. Again, most of what we saw was from the bus but is the only way to see so much is so little time.

Our first stop was in downtown Montreal at the oldest church in the city, the Basilique  Notre-Dame-de-Montreal (Notre-Dame Basilica). The interior of the main church, the alter, and the hand carved wood work is really beyond description. It was very dark and I had to hand hold at very slow shutter speeds to get these. I bought postcards for my trip album. 

Montrealchurch2.jpg (34357 bytes)  Montrealchurch.jpg (49719 bytes)   We then drove through Old Montreal past many clean parks, landscaped and containing historical monuments where we did not stop. We also drove past Olympic Park and the Parc Lafontaine. 

Montrealchurch4.jpg (40760 bytes)Our next stop on the tour was at the Parc du Mont-Royal (Mount Royal).Montrealchurch3.jpg (49255 bytes)

High on a hill overlooking a beautiful garden is the Oratoire St-Joseph (St. Josephs Oratory). There are 300 steps which worshipers climb and stop periodically to prey or there is shuttle to the circle drive above. 

Montrealskyline.jpg (40478 bytes) This a view from the top of Mount Royal overlooking Montreal and beyond. 

Thursday morning we headed for  Quebec City. Upon arrival, around noon, we again could not get into our hotel. The bus took us to a nearby mall where we found lunch in a food court. This is where it got fun. Quebec city is almost totally French speaking. When we got to the food court the only thing we could do was look at the pictures and try to decide what we could order that was recognizable. Most of the group descended on one place that sold fried chicken plates. It was pretty good. 

We then boarded the bus to pick up our tour guide for the afternoon. He was a retired fireman, he spoke excellent English, having come from a bilingual family and he loved to show off the city where he  was born, raised, and work all his life. Unfortunately we had rain and again, the bus was acting up.

We began our tour in the Upper Town with a ride to Old Quebec past the Citadel to highest point of the city. We were able to look out over the river and the city. We continued our bus tour with Eric pointing out many points of interest that included: the Musee de Quebec (Quebec Museum) which is housed in an abandoned prison dating from 1867, Parc des Champs-de-Bataille (Battlefields Park) and is also known as the Plains of Abraham, the Wolfe Monument and the Parc de l'Espanade (Esplanade Park). Like in Montreal, the parks are clean, free of trash, and although being used, were nice landscaped.

From there we rode to the Lower Town for our walking tour starting in the Plaza Royal. Quebec1.jpg (52786 bytes) This area is one of the oldest of Quebec City and formerly housed wealthy merchants. The streets are cobblestone and lined with shops and restaurants. Quebec3.jpg (53716 bytes) The object in the background that appears to be an elevator is a funicular which takes you from the lower town back up to the upper town where we started our tour. The other alternative is to climb the twenty five stair cases that go to the top.

Quebec2.jpg (54378 bytes)        QuebecChurch.jpg (52810 bytes)  QuebecChurch2.jpg (45517 bytes)

Located in the square of the Place Royale is the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (Our Lady of Victory Church) built in 1688 and restored twice. Eric, our guide is the one standing in front of the church in the white shirt and tie. The alter in this church as lovely. Hanging left and right of the center pews are some very famous art works. As we walked along the streets Eric pointed out various places he recommended should we wish to return to the area to eat and/or shop. Other than occasional sprinkles it did not rain real hard until we were almost finished and were boarding the bus to go to our hotel to check in.

Twelve members of the group wanted to go back to lower town where we toured to shop and eat dinner. We hired two van cabs and split the cost between six of us, which came out to about 1$ Canadian. Once we got there we all split up into our own groups. 

After we shopped we returned to one of the restaurants Eric had recommended that served the best apple pie he has ever had. Having eaten a big lunch, we decided to give it a try, Le Cechon Dingue (Crazy Pig).

I ordered an appetizer of Pigs Wings. Bet you did not know that pigs could fly? They were small, flat ribs that came with a small green salad and fresh made French bread and I had a glass of delicious French Rose. Frances ordered goat cheese fried with an okra coating that was very good and they all three ordered pie which I had a taste of. It was indeed very good.

It began to rain pretty hard and we were all getting pretty tired so we caught a cab back to the bus. I bought Bob real Canadian Maple Syrup sold in a very pretty bottle shaped like a maple leaf. 

Friday was head toward home day. It was pouring rain when we left and continued to do so all the way to New Hampshire and our lunch stop in Franconia Notch State Park in the White Mountains. On our way we drove past the geological formation on the side of the mountain know as "the old man in the mountain".

Flume.jpg (57629 bytes) We arrived at the Flume Gorge while it was still pouring down rain. After we ate lunch we were ushered into a small theater to watch a short film about the Park and the Flume. As we exited the movie back into the information center the rain had stopped, the sun had come out, and it had turned warm. About a dozen of us decided we would do the hike up to the Flume.

Flume2.jpg (48731 bytes)     Flume4.jpg (56049 bytes)   Flume3.jpg (65181 bytes)   

An old school bus took us through a covered bridge to the bottom of the hill to start the climb to the top of the falls. After a short uphill climb, there are a series of wooden stairs to climb as seen in the pictures. These took us right into the falls toward the top.    

Flume6.jpg (61550 bytes)After reaching the top I took this picture looking back down the Flume. At this point there are two options. There is a short hiking trail that will take you back down to the bus or continue on hiking the entire two mile trail back to the visitor center. I think only about only seven of us continued on including my sister, who is not the outdoor hiking type. It was hot and humid but once at the top you could look down into the Gorge and the river that feeds the falls. 

Flume5.jpg (70349 bytes)  Along the way we walked across another covered bridge that spanned the Gorge. We passed huge glacial rocks and trees with the roots covering many of the rocks. Moss covered much of the forest floor. If you prefer, you can start the hike where we finished and go backwards. I am not sure it would be any easier.

Back on the bus, we continued on to Chelmsford, MA for our nights lodging place. During the trip from Quebec to Chelmsford, the bus kept over heating. The driver kept having to turn the AC off and on to keep the water temperature down so the bus would not cut off.

Sunday morning we headed for home and the bus continued to have problems.  We were very lucky to make it all the way home without breaking down on the side of the road due to the wonderful driver of the bus.

I hope you enjoyed the trip. Since so many of the things we saw on this trip were just very hard to get good photographs of, I hope you enjoyed the links to other sites.

Please visit my other trip pages for Mackinac Island, Nova Scotia, and New Hampshire.










Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Barbara Fritchman Thompson. All Rights Reserved.