Saturday, December 31, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
Friday, March 25, 2016
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Thank you again for your visit. It was very appreciated to exchange with you and to hear about your pilgrim experience.
Here is a picture of us in front of the door of mercy of the sanctuary of Ste-Therese. Also you can find the article relating your visit on our website http://www.petitetherese.org/ in the section « Actualités ».
May God bless you,
Father Réjean Lessard
Monday, March 14, 2016
Saturday, March 12, 2016
The time so far in Quebec province has been a lot of fun with the involvement of the folks at Bottes et Velo. With their connections, radio, television, and newspapers have covered my arrival at each of these shrines - for you francophones, check out their facebook pages and the little videos they've made... bottesetvelo.com. Getting the word out that Quebec has good and worthy pilgrim destinations is an effort I'm happy to help with.
The pilgrim route between Montreal and Trois-Rivieres is a wonderful historical and picturesque one, and while speaking some French is pretty much an imperative for a pilgrim here, the parish workers have been pretty helpful. Pilgrims are common in large groups in mid August for the Feast of the Assumption. Otherwise, pilgrimage seems to be uncommon. But don't be discouraged, pilgrims, come any time - the St Lawrence is ripe for pilgrim pickings.
That said, I can't recommend extending the pilgrimage up north to the Ermitage St-Antoine by foot...too far without any services of any kind... people have been great and helpful, and more people would surely be around in conditions less snow-covered, but to begin the pilgrimage in Sageunay and walking the small roads between villages for 3 or 4 days is the better approach - and gorgeous.
A new word in my growing quebecois vocabulary is 'pourvoirie', which is translated as 'outfitter', but includes far more. All the best of summer camp for everyone. After my plans to walk through a forest were foiled by the absence of inhabitants after the holiday week was over, I took to the quiet highway, though villages are few and far between. Growing weary as the sun began to set, I came to Camp Hosanna, a pourvoirie near to the road. I assumed by the name that it was some sort of Christian camp or retreat center... I couldn't have guessed it was the name of the wife of the original proprietor 80 years ago. Nonetheless, the family who undertakes the current operations invited me to spend the night. Hunting, fishing, hiking, ice fishing, snow-mobiling, snowshoeing, crosscountry skiing, dog-sledding, sleighrides, horseback riding, etc... the list goes on... and one among the family of operators has a passion for collecting old snow-mobile busses, which were formerly the mainstay of transportation in northern Quebec winters. What great fun that stop was for me... and a surprise no doubt for them. The little kids have the bragging rights now - they hosted a pilgrim one night.
Another similar stop was at a rather posh forest gîte at the edge of the inhabited zone... knock knock, hi I'm a pilgrim, it's getting dark, I can't continue on foot tonight, can I stay here? Uh, sure, why not? So kind are the couple who run Domaine de Bostonnaise, thankfully open year-round.
Finally, I've arrived at the northern-most part of my pilgrimage this winter, nearly 50 degrees north latitude... off toward a series of monasteries - Augustinian nuns then Trappist (chocolatiers!) - before trying to figure out how to get back down to the St Lawrence river and Quebec for Holy Thursday.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
6 :30 du matin, c’est le départ de chez Max Béland, Lucie Paquet, Émile Béland (8ans) et Élodie Béland (6 ans)
Bonne route Ann!!
LUCIE PAQUET adjointe administrative / directrice des opérations hivernales
Tél. : 819 646-5244 / Téléc. : 819 646-5682 / firstname.lastname@example.org
3460, route 155, Trois-Rives (Québec) G0X 2C0
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
The photo taken and uploaded by a kind couple skating on the frozen canal during the annual mid-winter festival hardly conveys the true bite of the wind that day, yet thousands of Ottawans were out skating and having fun. I met many many lovely people along the trek toward the provincial border - unmarked except for the language and architecture. It's decidedly reminiscent of the French countryside - village boulangeries, soaring church spires, mansard roofs - though still with the occasional wolftrack in the forests.
This has been a wonderful pilgrim playland, with cheerful reception in parish communities, a few convents, a monastery, and many people's private homes. People are good. I've passed through many Doors of Mercy in shrines and cathedrals - even got the Archbishop to sign my pilgrim credential in Ottawa - so I encourage pilgrims to come to Canada (or stay in Canada) to make pilgrimages. Year of Mercy - Pope Francis said that everyone should make a pilgrimage this year, in part on foot...
After visiting the various pilgrim shrines in and around Montreal, then Trois-Riviere, and since I've got buckets of time on my hands before Easter, I'll deviate to Ermitage Saint-Antoine a jaunt to the north of Quebec city... 300 kms out of the way, and then back... a group called Bottes et Velo - 'boots and bicycle' is stirring up some pilgrim fun inviting people to walk along with me for certain stretches and enjoy some pilgrim meals together, so anyone can join in... see the itinerary at www.bottesetvelo.com. The world needs more pilgrims.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Thursday, February 4, 2016
A light snow was falling after a night of steady accumulating flurries; no storm or anything harsh, just a morning that dawned a winter wonderland... On a backroad, presumably a gravel road, but unused as it had been that morning, I was happily walking through ankle-deep fresh snow without ice beneath. The temperature was comfortable; there was no wind to speak of. I walked for hours alone to the sound of snow, sometimes falling lightly, sometimes clumping down off tree tops, and sometimes just squeaking under my boots (not enough snow for snowshoes).
Who wouldn't enjoy such a morning's walk? For miles and miles, I was absolutely alone in the woods. Unwatched, unaccompanied - what is the saying? 'dance like there's no one watching; sing like there's no one listening...' so I sort of was, but walking, not dancing, and not really singing out loud, but with happy random thoughts savoring the journey of the day... I wandered the full width of the track - this side to peer into the woods where there were fresh deer tracks, that side to follow a wee mouse along the slight crust of the snow for a remarkable distance considering its size until it spied me and jumped into the forest... meandering onward now stopping to watch a red-headed woodpecker pound persistently into a tree top... wandering sort of straight down the middle, then stopping for a bit of a piddle on one side, later sitting on a snowbank on the opposite side to eat an apple... adrift in my own thoughts for hours and hours, unhurried, unwatched, totally enjoying my morning walk - yikes! suddenly, silently, a small car was behind me! Hello?! A puzzled woman shouted out - 'what is this?? I thought I've been following a drunken moose for miles! What are you doing out here?' I looked back down the track I'd walked... sure enough, little prints in the snow, never in a straight line for very long, tracks that could have been made by a drunken moose, indeed. Or a pilgrim enjoying the solitude. We both laughed fully, well into the evening, it turned out. Why not? Dance like there's no one watching. Sing like there's no one listening. Walk like a drunken moose through the fresh snow.
Some days later, at the Martyrs' Shrine, I took a day of rest as a guest of the Jesuits. A pilgrim from Toronto came to visit. With much deliberation, I parted with my snowshoes. The end of January - winter's half over - not much snow to speak of. While I used them a few times, I never really needed them - not like the deep deep snows of Serbia and Montenegro last winter. If I find I need them again, we can be reunited in short order. Now, without the added weight on my pack, with virtually no snow left on the ground, I can leave a trail of light prints in the mud - perhaps not as easy to mistake them as being made by a drunken moose.
Monday, January 25, 2016
Hosts and other people I encounter continue to be kind, and I've been with the three general groups of collocated communities - general English-speaking Canadians, French-speaking Canadians, and First Nation folks, one fun evening being welcomed for accommodation in one of the Elder Homes of the Serpent River band. Every day is new and adventurous, a few bitterly cold days, some fluffy snow days, but no harsh storms.
Pushing for the Martyrs' Shrine in Midland, the northeastward into deeper snow.... more soon...
Sunday, January 10, 2016
The UP of Michigan flew by under my feet more than my snowshoes, but I got in some off-road and forest walking and was met with kindness (and coffee) everywhere. Overall, the warmest gesture I met in all six of the states I walked through since Denver has been the offering of cups of coffee, so often right through the car window. I haven't encountered this anywhere else in all my travels. God Bless America.
Amid all the joy and fun I've been having, a highlight before exiting the country was found just north of Paradise - and what pilgrim could bypass a town so-named? Just north of Paradise is a Catholic community called Companions of Christ the Lamb. They've got a substantial wilderness area and offer short and long-stay wilderness retreats in small hermitages away from the world. It's a funny perspective that such a place could be dubbed 'wilderness', but it's an apt title. While I associate wilderness areas with a rugged lack-of-life appeal - those many deserts I've crossed, the high-altitude way-above-the-treeline aretes, the vast uninhabited tundra all with an imminent threat of death with the slightest lapse of senses - a cozy hardwood forest with meandering rivers and plenty of wildlife certainly qualifies for a comfortable wilderness retreat anyone could enjoy. To the surprise of the residents, I approached in great tranquility on foot along snowmobile tracks rather than on the paved highway, quiet as it may be.
Onward toward the Shrine of the Martyrs in Midland, Ontario...maybe by the end of the month. More snow is forecast, so soon, I hope, the snowshoes will be off my back and on my feet for good.
Happy New Year...
Saturday, January 9, 2016
The "Winter Pilgrim" stayed the night at Bay Mills before hitting the Caffey Truck Trail this morning. Ann Sieben has walked many parts of the world as a "Winter Pilgrimage", Today she will enter the 44th country (Canada) as this Winter's walk takes her from starting point in Denver, Co. to Quebec's Atlantic seacoast.
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