|Mont Tremblant in Winter|
The theme for this blog post was set as The Beauty of Canada, which put me at a distinct disadvantage as I am English and have only visited the country three times in my life – twice to Ontario and once to Quebec. On all three occasions, the province was under between four and seven feet of snow, so my perspective is confined to a spectacular expanse of white, but somehow that make it more magical.
Our son did a student exchange program in his second year at University so we decided to visit him one Christmas. Our first day in Montreal, we planned on walking to the French Quarter, but European outerwear and stiletto heels made this a bad decision, so instead, we hurried from icy windblown streets into the underground tunnels to avoid the -23 Deg temperatures, located a Tim Hortons and huddled over hot chocolate and marshmallows instead!
We don’t often experience these sort of chill factor in the UK – meaning never, so this was a bit of a shock, but I have to admit it was somehow refreshing - I have never had my nose hair freeze solid before. Once out in the country and after a few days we acclimatised and even ditched the thermal underwear!
The weather could be scary at times though, and one day we realised we were driving through the Algonquin National Park with a fuel gauge quivering below the quarter full mark. We hadn’t seen a service station or even another car for over an hour, just a very large annoyed looking moose. ‘How big can this place be?’ we asked ourselves. How innocent were we, and a park ranger's nightmare, no doubt. In the UK you cannot go five miles in any direction without falling over a town. Canada is a whole different territory, but our horse ride through a dense forest in deep snow on Christmas Eve was an experience to remember.
|St Jovite Church, Quebec|
We also saw some spectacular sunrises over frozen lakes, and the tiny town of St Jovite, Quebec on a Christmas Eve night is the closest thing to a real Disneyland we have ever seen. What was also fascinating was the custom of creating ice sculptures everywhere. A country of talented artists certainly.
We booked a snowmobiling excursion for Christmas Day expecting to occupy an hour or so, which turned out to be an entire day covering about 30 km on a tour of lakesides with all the lights twinkling around us like a fairyland. Definitely our best Christmas ever.
The most heartwarming and memorable characteristics of Canada was its people. Everywhere we went the locals were open, friendly, never in a hurry and happy to sit and chat with us. Everyone had pride in their home town and would patiently direct us everywhere, including the nearest branch of Canada Tyre and Tim Hortons. Who knew you could buy fleece lined jeans - heaven!
Even the dog sled host with the handlebar moustache who couldn't speak a word of English chatted away to us. Or maybe that was because I was walking round with one of his huskie pups in my pocket! We definitely plan to go back one day – but not in blackfly season!