Little Black Book...Quebec Winter Carnival
My Winter Carnival List
- Ice Skating at Place D'Youville: We usually bring our own skates, but you can rent a pair by the ice. There are periodic shows and concerts and a free flapjack breakfast during the Carnival.
- Toboggan Rides by the Château Frontenac: Rent your sled, race to the bottom then get yourself a cup of hot choclate to warm up.
- Le Petite Couchon Dingue: Located at 46 Boulevard Champlain, this little place is a great spot to stop for a meal while exploring the lower city. I always get the chicken pot pie, what can I say? It's tradition.
- Le Casse-Crêpe Breton: Located at 1136 Rue Saint-Jean, this is our daily brunch spot. You can choose your own fillings, it's reasonably priced and delicious.
- L'Oncle Antione Bar: In the lower city at 29 Rue St-Pierre this bar is in an old stone cellar. Great ambience and even better beer.
The first time I saw Quebec City I was 16. We drove for hours piled into a couple of tiny sedans, eating junk food and pretending our walkie -talkies were CB radios. That was before you needed a passport to get into Canada, before I started worrying about what I ate and when none of my friends were in a hurry to get home to their kids at the end of the long weekend.
After that first trip we swore we would go to winter carnival every February and we did pretty well on that promise. We don't go every year but we still make it every two or three and though some things have changed a lot has stayed the same. We still share a big apartment in the old city, shop at the same quaint little grocery for our wine, cheese and baguettes and eat at the same creperie for brunch every morning.
We don't do much with the main carnival anymore, that kind of lost its appeal after the first couple times, but we do usually look at the ice hotel and sculptures and we always challenge each other to a toboggan race and go ice skating at Place D'Youville.
To be honest, over the years the trip has become more about us than the city. Catching up on lost time, reconnecting with the kids we were when we came that first winter all those years ago. But the city itself is a character in our stories. When we pass the place my sister realized she was falling for her friend (now husband) we all point and rib them. When we enter our favorite restaurants we remember those who are no longer with us and the times we had when they were. The Chateau Fontenac, towering over us as the constant landmark we find whenever we are turned around, is bittersweet memory of a friend who died, who for some inexplicable reason could never remember its proper name and called it "the shadow of his front neck" with a put on French accent and memorable facial contortions.
To us Quebec has become a symbol of friendship, of freedom from responsibility, however short lived, and most importantly a tradition that holds us together, no matter how far our day to day paths drift apart.
Historic Sites To See
- Notre-Dame Basilica-Cathedral: The original church was built in 1647 but was destroyed during the British Siege in 1759 and again burned in 1922. Currently restored the beautiful Cathedral is located at at 20, Rue de Buade.
- Château Frontenac: Built in the 1890's the beautiful old hotel is still accepting guests and is a symbol of Quebec's old city.
- Fort of Quebec: Built between 1608-1871 the fortifications watch over the intersection of the St. Lawrence and the St. Charles Rivers, making old Quebec the only surviving fortified city in North America.
- Morrin Centre: Once the cities first prison, then a college, the 1814 building is now a stunning Victorian Library open for tours, concerts and lectures.
Quebec City Celebrities
- Glenn Ford (actor)
- Marc Garneau (first Canadian in outer space)
- Anne Hébert (author and poet)
- Larkin Kerwin (first president of the Canadian Space Agency)
- Robert Lepage (actor and playwright)
Jean Brassard (actor)
A Short History Of Quebec
The first town on the site was was an Iroquois village of 500 called 'Stadacona'. Then in 1534 the French explorer Jacques Cartier attempted to set up a post there, but barely survived the brutal cold a year before returning to France. Nearly 75 years later in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain officially founded Kebec, it's name meaning "where the river narrows." Yet again the climate proved challenging for those first settlers; 20 out of 28 died in the first winter due to the harsh weather and extreme cold.
Only 21 years later the British took the city and held it for the next three years until it was returned to France. And though the British continued to hound the city it wasn't until 1759 that General Wolfe took the fort once and for all and in 1763 France officially gave Canada to Britain.
Unfortunately for the citizens the lull only lasted 12 years. The city was under siege again, this time by the American revolutionaries, who after a hard march north were no match for the French fort and the British soldiers manning it.
Over 150 years later the "Quebec Conferences" held between the allied leaders were instrumental in the planning of the D-Day attacks.
As the years wore on Quebec lost its strategic importance to the warring nations of the world but the old city has retained its charm, still luring thousands of visitors each year.
Some interesting Articles on Quebec City
For more information on Quebec's "sights to see" check out these articles: