Saturday, March 12, 2016

Day 134 - another day of rest

What's a pilgrim to do when the destination is too close?  Take another day of rest. What better place to rest than at a friendly and beautiful shrine?  I rested a day at St Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, another at Notre Dame to Cap in Trois-Riviere, and now yet another at the Ermitage St Antoine.  What a lazy pilgrim I've become... but I've had some long days afoot, with few places to stop and that's hard on the gams... 44 kilometers without a place to sit down... ooh.

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...  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.

1 comment:

Michèle Dextras said...

Anne, you are incredible! You have seen parts of Québec that I am sure the majority of Québecois have not seen. Enjoy the next two weeks to Holy Thursday. The weather is warmer I am sure.