Quebec, Highway 138, Tadoussac, and Sainte Anne-de-Beaupre, August 15, 2008

17 02 2011

Folk Art of Quebec

Cafe in Tadoussac

Under the circumstances, the highway along the north shore of the St. Lawrence river seemed very civilised to us, but in reality it is charmingly under-developed and provincial. Coming out of the gray, buggy summer of Labrador, the sun was extra soothing and the bushy tall trees were majestically luscious. Of course, we had seen the south shore when we toured the Gaspe Peninsula, and this area had much in common to that. It was more heavily populated but we still got to see interesting folk art and a refreshing lack of national chain stores.

The Boogie Bus Goes for a Ride

Tadoussac is a tidy little town famous for whale watching. It’s one of those spots where one side of the highway is linked to the other side by a ferry, so we stopped there for lunch, at a nice cafe called Le Boheme. We both had espresso—-espresso!—and tasty panini sandwiches.
The ferry ride was sunny, crowded and short. We had a date that night in Quebec City with some friends, so we didn’t dawdle along highway 138. At one point, I had to pee, and instead of stopping the van I just pulled the chemical toilet from under the bench seat and did my business. Our safety habits had really changed after living in the van for 3 months, when we would stop on the side of the road and unbelt just to get something from the back.

Shops by the Basilica

By the time we got to Beaupre we figured we were ahead of schedule, so we stopped in to see the famous shrine of Sainte Anne-de-Beaupre. I had never heard of this place (which just goes to show how generally clueless I am—it’s one of the biggest tourist attractions of Quebec), but Step had visited there on a high school field trip.

Miracles

Miracles

Sainte Anne is the patron saint of Quebec who is known for miraculous cures, and the modern day basilica that is her shrine is a destination point for pilgrims who seek to be cured of some ailment or affliction. I really enjoyed the area for it’s ’50’s modernist aesthetic, and the streets surrounding the shrine are full of shops selling religious trinkets. I found the whole place mind blowing in the same kind of gaudy, plastic style that I enjoyed in Niagara Falls. The shrine itself is more dignified. When you walk in, there are a couple of pillars in the entrance which are covered in crutches, prosthetics, and braces that the healed had been able to cast off after their personal healing miracles. We picked up a pamphlet from a selection of many entitled “Why Chose Marriage” [sic]. There were also candles you could light, or for a couple of bucks you could buy a candle in a Chinese food take out box thing on a stick. The use for this because apparent after dark, when the miracle seekers that attended the service lit them and had a little parade around the statue of Sainte Anne in front of the shrine.

Seeking Divine Intervention

Fortunately for me and the interested, I didn’t notice the sign asking you not to take pictures inside until after I had taken a bunch (I really didn’t mean any disrespect—I had been distracted by all the sights. Sorry Sainte Anne and possible God). I don’t think it was because they don’t want people to see, it was more to not distract the service attendees. Our camera is pretty good so at least it was quiet and I didn’t use the flash.

Sacred Statue of Sainte Anne

Why Chose Marriage?

I watched part of the service while Step made phone calls in the van. Some of the people were in wheelchairs and the like. As an agnostic, I wasn’t sure what to think. On one hand it seemed sort of snake oily, but on the other hand I do believe in the bodies ability to heal and if this was the conduit, who am I to judge? No one experienced any immediate miracles when I was there. I spent the second part of the service wandering around the grounds and then I got a couple pictures of the parade.

It was only 30 kilometres from there to Quebec City, and we made it with time to spare.

Religious Souvenirs, Anyone?

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