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Visiting Rivière-Baudette, Québec, and Lac Saint-François: Water, Water Everywhere; Confluences and Crossroads
Movement and complexity
Rivière-Baudette, in the Municipalité Régionale de Comté / Regional County Municipality of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, is a remarkable place. Defined by water: it faces Lac Saint-François, itself part of the mighty Saint Lawrence / Saint-Laurent, and its very name as a municipality is derived from the river, the confluence of which with the Saint-Lawrence occurs here.
Lac Saint-François (or Lake Saint Francis) — all 272 square kilometres of it — is actually shared by three Canadian provincial and US state jurisdictions: Québec, Ontario and New York.
At the municipality is a peninsula — largely tree-covered —known as Pointe Baudette, which protrudes into Lac Saint-François. This peninsula forms a leafy, residential community.
So waters define Rivière-Baudette; as do borders also. Close to the Québec-Ontario border, the municipality forms a crossroads: several, in fact. Passing through the municipality are Interprovincial freeways; the VIA railroad between Montréal and Toronto also crosses Rivière-Baudette.
To opt to use an aquatic term, the linguistic boundaries here are fluid; while assuredly an officially French-speaking village, it has a small English-speaking minority; and it is close to mainly English-speaking Ontario with its French-speaking minorities in the east of this province.
Many visitors to Quebec know Rivière-Baudette best for its information centre on the Route 20 - Autoroute du Souvenir, towards Montréal. If people's knowledge of the locality is limited to this centre, it is in some ways is a pity because pulling off the beaten track a short distance, the scenic situation of the municipality on Lac Saint-François is well worth seeing.
A remarkable fact regarding Lac Saint-François at Rivière-Baudette is that, although from the shore the Saint-Laurence flows right to left, downstream towards Montreal, it can sometimes give the appearance of flowing in the opposite direction, as the surface waters are picked up by the wind: the whole effect is rather surreal at times. Plane-spotters will be aware of the odd effect of a fleet of jet bombers moving at 45 degrees or sideways along a runway apron. Well, the waters of Lac Saint-François at Rivière-Baudette evoke the intriguing and at times deceptive sense of inexorable movement: but in what direction?
August 28, 2017
Also worth seeing
Coteau-du-Lac (distance: 11.9 kilometres); military canal fortifications and remains, dating from the 18th century, form a Lieu historique national du Canada / National Historic Site of Canada.
Montréal (distance: 73.8 kilometres) The architectural and cultural attractions of Montreal are too numerous to mention here, but of special note, among many others, are the domed Bonsecours Market (Marché Bonsecours), dating from 1847, which was a venue used to house the Parliament of United Canada, prior to Confederation. The Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal ) was built mainly between 1824 and 1829; many Montrealers attend annual performances of Handel's 'Messiah' there. The Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique ) in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, used for the 1976 Olympics, has the world's tallest inclined tower, at 175 metres.
How to get there: Air Canada flies to Montreal (Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal ) from Toronto-Pearson, and from New York-Newark and New York-La Guardia, with wide connections. A number of car rental companies offer service at Montreal-Trudeau airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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