A few weeks ago, I had a pleasure of visiting Quebec City or Quebec, one of the oldest European settlements in Canada. It was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, a French Explorer. Quebec has a long history of key battles between the English and the French not to mention New England (aka America) and the “Indians”. The walls surrounding the old part of town are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico. Located along the St. Lawrence River, the name Kébec, is an Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows”.
One of the most beautiful buildings in the Old Town is the Château Frontenac. It was opened in 1893 and was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway as part of a series of chateau-like hotels which promoted luxury tourism by appealing to wealthy travelers. Not only a beautiful building, it is located at the top of Cap Diamond, which makes it a striking part of the Quebec city skyline.
While in Quebec, I also had the rare opportunity to walk through the Holy Door at the basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec. Now celebrating its 350th anniversary, the Church was the first Catholic diocese north of Mexico and is seen as the mother parish of all Catholic dioceses in Canada and the U.S. Built for the Jubilee celebrations, the Holy Door has the figure of Christ on the outside and Mary on the inside and is one of only seven in the Catholic world and the only one in North America. On December 28th of this year, it will be closed and sealed until the next Holy Year of the Roman Catholic Church, around 2025.
I am not a Christian but doorways and passageways have long been a symbol of transition in many cultures and religions around the world. Marking liminal space, they represent the journey from one place into another, both physically and spiritually. And, when done with intent, they can offer insight into the process of change and the personal commitment a person can make towards living a certain way in the world.
But as beautiful as the various buildings were, for me the real treat was seeing the fall colours. The transition from green to red and orange and yellow all set against the blue sky and sun (well, mostly sun) made for the perfect reason to get out and walk around this beautiful, but hilly, city.
And. lastly, of course I had to try the signature dish of Quebec … poutine! I have had poutine before but never in its birthplace of Quebec. For those who have not tried this delicious dish, poutine is french fries, topped with gravy and cheese curds. You can have a variety of other toppings on poutine. I chose elk and rabbit meat. And, in an added Quebec bonus, I had mine in an outdoor cafe overlooking the Château Frontenac and with a glass of Quebec cider. The key to good poutine, in my opinion, is the quality of the cheese curds. They should be firm, not too soggy from the gravy, with a slight squeak against your teeth. My verdict? Perfect!