THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY ...
a fishing trip with Doug and Kent.
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The strident noise coming from the alarm startled me from a deep sleep. I
groggily rolled over and read the alarm's LCD read 04:00. This morning, two
old friends were going on a fishing trip to Northern Quebec.
The old friends are Doug Symons, a retired bank manager and Kent Weatherilt,
a retired school administrator. We have looked forward to fishing, trains, and fishing in Northern Quebec
for some time, now.
Laurie, Doug's wife was already up and dressed. She was driving us to the
VIA train station in Brockville, Ontario. At the station, we were surprised to
be greeted by a lady who doubled as the baggage tag agent and a taxi cab
driver in Brockville.
The overnight train, which had been parked for about forty-five minutes
just west of Brockville, moved into the station at exactly 05:30h. The two
fishers boarded Train 50 (Toronto to Montreal) without mishap. The
complement of cars was Engine #604, Car 4121, Car-Chateau Laval,
Car-Yoho Park, and Car-Chateau Bienville. We set off on time and arrived in Montreal
twenty minutes early. It was a quick and pleasant trip. The train's Service Manager Michael Wolfe
took our tickets. When he saw our
Trainweb.com hats, he was intrigued with our task at hand. Michael is a
thirty-two year veteran of CN and VIA Rail. He has been on this run for
about ten years with his early experience in Western Canada. This
gentleman went about his job of waking the fifteen passengers who had to
get off in Cornwall. He was a man who was proud of his work with VIA Rail.
We later discovered that he was the Great-Great Grandchild of the British
hero of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (Quebec City) in 1759, Major-
General James Wolfe. The train arrived in Montreal's Windsor Train Station
twenty minutes early.
On arrival to the station, a red cap (porter) took our bags and placed them
directly on the next train. He also provided us with the gate and time of
boarding. We walked around the station and then up to the street level. It
was pretty busy and the weather was beautiful.
As we prepared to board the train, the two VIA attendants at the gate
humourously told us that they would like a couple of trout each on our
return. Obviously, it doesn't take long for information to get around to each
employee. We went down the elevator to the train.
As we were walking toward our car, Benoit LaPorte, Product-Marketing
Manager for Eastern and Northern Quebec, met us. He brought along a large
package of interesting material on the area and places we were going to see.
Along with Benoit were the two engineers and the two service managers who
would be taking the train on its first leg.
Train #601 consisted of six cars: two engines #6307 and #6413, two
baggage cars #8608 and #8145 and two passenger cars #8146 and #8119.
This train is split into two at the Hervey Junction Station about 217
kilometres north of Montreal. At that point, one section would go to
Jonquière while the other section would to Senneterre. Our train staff was
Clement Martin (engineer) and Ricky Kulak, the service manager.
Benoit LaPorte, Ricky Kulak, Kent Weatherilt, Clement Martin, Rejean Martineau.
We had no sooner sat down than two men seated beside us introduced
themselves. Richard Morin, a semi-retired VIA employee and his friend,
David Robitaille, a psychiatrist, were going on a weeklong canoeing trip in the
area, which we would be exploring. Richard has been an employee of VIA for
twenty years and is an avid railroad fan. His romantic descriptions of how he
felt about boarding a train and riding the rails was truly inspiring. He was
like a young child in a candy store. He was excited telling us about the line,
his job and the history along the way. We were given a guided tour through
the city and suburbs of Montreal.
Years ago, this train would have started its travels north by going through
the tunnel under the City of Montreal. However, due to the diesel fumes and
other pollution/health concerns, the train now leaves the station heading
west and then east before starting its northbound route. This portion of the
trip takes about an hour whereas if we were to take the tunnel it would have
taken about 10-15 minutes. Shortly after our departure, Ricky, the service
manager, noticed that one of the engines was not producing power for the
lights, air conditioning and coffee pots on the car we were travelling on. As
neither he nor the engineers could remedy the situation, Ricky called the
service department and their "SWAT team" to come and assist us. Their truck roared
to a stop at a station in the east end of Montreal where we waited for them.
The service people had the problem rectified in a few minutes by replacing a
relay switch. We were on our way once again.
The photos show some of the smaller stations near Montreal. They have
been literally covered by graffiti. It is a shame people do such things and
destroy others' properties.
Doug got off the train momentarily at Shawinigan, the home of the Prime
Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien. While he was taking some pictures, the
engineer, M.Clement Martin, beckoned to Doug to join him in the cab. This
really pleased Doug. He travelled about forty kilometres in the cab. He
said that it gave one a whole new perspective of travelling by train. As well,
he remarked the engine noise was almost deafening. When Doug ran out of
film, Kent joined him up front with fresh film. The engineer attempted to
converse in English and most of it was successful. However, it was fun
listening to him start in English and finish off in French with Doug providing
a simultaneous translation for Kent.
As a passing note, we have all heard the horror stories of English-speaking
people passing through Quebec and being spoken to only in French. However,
everyone we met tried very hard to address us in English. Many said that it
was one of the few times they actually had a good opportunity to practice
their English. It is amazing how some stereotypes get started.
At Rivière à Pierre, we saw that construction crews were literally chopping
off the top of a local mountain. This being prime Canadian Shield, the granite
is chopped into three metre by five metre blocks. Beside the rails, there
were trucks loaded with these stones. We were told that they are used for
We later passed through St-Tite that is reputed to hold an annual western
that attracts more than 400,000
people every September. The westernized facades of the businesses and
Town Hall, the typically western clock and an illuminated fountain are
constant reminders of this great event throughout the year. It is called the
biggest western show in eastern Canada. As we passed the cattle yards we
only noticed about 20-30 bulls for the event. Later as we returned home, we
noticed that there were hundreds of camping trailers parked everywhere.
People had them parked on their front lawn, in their driveways, and their
back lawns. As well, all the major parking lots throughout the town were
loaded with more trailers.
As there was no full food service on this train, we had some delicious
submarine sandwiches and soft drinks for lunch.
We continued to travel through kilometres of muskeg swamps, Canadian
Shield and forests. The train stopped every so often along the way at a
station, a crossing, or by literally being flagged down. This is what made the
trip so interesting. It was the backbone of transportation in this country
much like the way it was earlier in the century. The Service Managers knew
most people and asked appropriate questions of their family and friends.
Ricky told us it was not unusual to be asked to drop off people at a bridge
they might cross over and asked to remember to pick them up five days in
the future. Ricky did say that he would try to remember but they had to
flag the train down just in case.
As we went along we were shown another side of this very interesting man.
He brought us some pictures and we were quite astounded at what we saw. It
seems that a moose calf less than a few days old had got tangled in downed
telephone wires and could not escape. It would have met his doom with the
local wolves if the situation had not been rectified. He and another
passenger went to help the animal. The doe moose, a formidable foe, was
lying nearby. While they kept an eye on the mother, the two set to work
attempting to free the calf. Finally, the baby was loose but it was so tired
from all of its struggling and sheer fright of the incident couldn't or wouldn't
move. The passenger then picked the calf up in his arms and carried him near
his mother. They then backed off rather quickly. After a few minutes of
nursing, the two got up and ambled back into the woods. Some who saw this
actually saw the doe wave a thank you but others say it was the happiness of
the tail that they saw. What great pictures! What humanity!
After 5.5 hours, the train was flagged down at our first stop, Triton Club.
Triton stop is about 330 kilometres north of Montreal. The train arrived
about two hours late due to the faulty relay switch as well as the normal
hold-ups by crews fixing the track after a derailment the day prior as well
as normal track maintenance.
A lovely young lady met us and guided us down a hilly and narrow path
through the woods to a small tributary of water. There awaited a pontoon
boat. Along with us was a group of eight older people who were visiting the
club for the evening; we travelled about twenty-five minutes by boat. The
going at first was very slow, as the water had receded during the unusually
hot and dry summer. As we rounded another corner of dense bush, there
stood the magnificent La Seigneurie du Triton on a hill in the distance.
The view of the Seigneurie from the water was breathtaking. The
transportation of materials presents some very costly and difficult problems
to build a building today let alone some 100 years ago.
An American railroad engineer, by the name of Alexander Luder's Light,
founded the Triton Fish and Game Club in 1893. At the time of its
construction, the Triton Club had over 200 lakes on its territory. The golden
age of the club came in the mid-twentieth century when the Triton
welcomed such illustrious club members as the American Presidents
Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman, members of the Rockefeller and
Molson families as well as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to
name a few. Today, La Seigneurie du Triton, member of the Federation of
Quebec Outfitters, is famous for its fishing quality, outdoor activities, food
and for its particular warmth. In 1989, the Seigneurie was a national tourism
prizewinner. Further information on-line can be found at
On our arrival at the main lodge we were met by Nick Tremblay, a son of the
present owners, who gave us a grand tour of the building as well as going into
great detail of who had stayed here over the years. The main lodge holds up
to fifty guests. We were then showed to our room in another adjacent
building, the Pavillion that provides accommodation and meeting facilities for
an extra fifty people. The Seigneurie is presently building additional
accommodation which will be winterized and have in-room facilities.
Our rooms were very clean and spartan. The room looked out on the lake
that sparkled all the time. There were two double beds, two single beds, two
chests of drawers and a hanging closet. The facilities, including toilet and
showers, were at the end of the hall about ten metres away.
Before we met for a pre-dinner drink in the lounge, Doug went for a walk on
one of their nature trails, which was called La Champignon. He said he
counted at least seven different kinds of mushrooms in a very short while.
Each trail was well labelled albeit in French. It still made reading and
learning easy. Kent watched a class of beginners in the backfield learning
how to fly fish. The teacher was very patient and moved the adult students
every ten or fifteen minutes to another activity or location. The next day
would be their time to put their newly honed skills to the test.
We met in the lounge for drinks. The room is extremely dark due to the
colour of the wood panelling as well as the small propane lights. The room has
windows that look out on the front veranda and the lake. The walls are
adorned with two huge mounted moose heads.
(Click here to view photographs).
These animals would have been
close to eight feet at the shoulders. As well, the room was crowded with
antiques chairs and couches of various size and shapes. Throughout the
room, there were stuffed examples of some of the animals of the area. A
beautiful stuffed Golden Eagle and a Snowy Owl were of great interest to
Kent as he carves all sorts of wildlife as a hobby. We both sat in the rocking
chair that Winston Churchill used to sit in when he was here. We are not
sure if some of his greatness rubbed off on us.
Dinner was served in a very bright and warm room that looked out on the
vast forests surrounding the place. Our waiter, a transplanted Parisian who
has completed the necessary course in hospitality and hotel management
presented each course of the meal with a truly French flair. The meal
d'hote this evening started off with onion pie which is sort of an onion
quiche. The next course was a beautiful cream of leek and potato soup. The
entrée for the evening was veal with a nutmeg sauce, baked mash potatoes
adorned with slivered almonds, and fired zucchini. For dessert, we had
custard with a very sweet glaze. It was a great ending for a delightful meal.
We finally succumbed to sleep about 21:30h. It had been a long day with
many new and wonderful experiences. It would be said that we slept very
We awoke about 07:15h. The morning was sunny but very cool. The lake was
covered with a fine mist. Activity was in full force around the property. A
big smile and Bonjour! greeted us at breakfast. The breakfast menu
consisted of many choices. However, we decided on eggs, bacon, and toast,
as we wanted to get started on the trek for the big one.
About 09:00h, we met Isabelle Gomphe who was in charge of Outdoor
Activities at Triton. They provided us with everything from life jackets to
cushions. And most important, they provided us with a creel to hold all of the
We took a short boat ride and then a fifteen-minute overland route to Lac Charitié.
The lake was small about 1500 yd X 500yd and about 6 feet deep.
It had been stocked with a variety of trout. Our guide, David who was very
French, greeted us but his English was more than passable. He forewarned
us that fishing had not been very successful due to the air temperature and
water levels. However, we would not be deterred. He showed us the hot
spots on the lake then we were on our own to investigate the lake. David did
come by every so often to check our luck and then he would return to his
fly-fishing. Watching the gracefulness of an experienced fly fisherman,
made us both desire to learn the technique. The silence was rejuvenating.
Our guide returned to say all he had was nibbles. But, the eternal optimist in
him said that we would have much better luck.
And now, comes the Fish Story. Kent was the first to draw blood. It was a
beautiful speckled trout. It was truly a magnificent animal, a definite
keeper. Doug placed it in the creel and then into the lake. Shortly after,
Doug hit pay dirt with a lovely brown trout. He immediately told Kent that it
was quite a bit larger than the one he had caught. Again, the new fish was
placed in the creel and then into the lake. The two continued to fish. Catching
a few that were too small to keep, they were returned to the lake. After a
while, David returned and asked about our luck. Doug said he had a couple of
beauties. He lifted the creel to show him the fish. But when he pulled it out
of the lake all he saw was an open top and lots of water. Whose fish was the
larger? Some people will go to any lengths to win.
Feeling sorry for us, David shared a couple of trout with us. For lunch, a
shore lunch had been organized. In a clearing at the lake's edge was the site
for a complete outdoor kitchen and eating area. The food was all cooked on
an open wood fire. Our chef, Sebastian, immediately apologized for his poor
English. However, it was anything but poor. We understood each other very
well. The meal consisted of a tasty vegetable soup, chicken breasts wrapped
in bacon, home-fried potatoes, salad and most importantly, our fried trout.
We learned that the staff cleans and prepares for cooking or freezing all
caught fish. This was followed with choice of cold or hot drinks and brownies
About thirty other guests of the club joined us at lunch. Some had been
fishing on adjacent lakes. Others had just finished with a two and a half day
work seminar and were taking the afternoon to fish.
After lunch, we returned to the lake for some more fishing and meditation.
As well, the antics of three Bufflehead ducks and an Osprey diving into the
lake for its dinner entertained us. During the afternoon, we had an
unexpected visitor, a local pilot and his plane. It was very interesting to
watch it land and take-off. We continued to fish for a couple of hours and
returned to the lodge to relax and prepare for dinner.
We relaxed onshore and wrote up our notes before dinner. We had a pre-
dinner drink in the lounge now full with guests excitedly talking about their
success on the lakes.
About 19:00h, we went for dinner. We were in for a real treat. This evening
started with a full smoked trout with onions and capers for each of us. They
get a mild sweet taste by smoking it with maple sugar. The next course was
freshly caught baked trout. Doug had a speckled trout and a rainbow trout
while Kent had two speckled trout. A flavourful cream of celery and potato
soup followed this. The main course for the evening was a roast of pork with
a dainty peach flavoured sauce. Boiled potatoes, squash, accompanied this
and brussel sprouts. The dry red house wine complemented the total effect.
Merveilleux! Dessert was a chocolate mousse cake with a raspberry topping.
We finished dinner around 21:30h. Bedtime came fast after a day outside
fishing followed by that meal. We closed our eyes about 23:00h.
After another filling breakfast, we packed our bags and prepared to go on to
our next stop. About 10:00h, we were told that our ride had arrived. We said
our farewells and took our luggage and equipment down to the boat. We were
taken back to a car parking area just a short way from the train stop.
Valerie and Melanie from the St. Maurice Outfitters' Association met us
there. Valerie, the Association's Marketing Director, advised us that there
had been a change in the itinerary. It seemed that the place where we were
scheduled to go had lost their only English speaking staff member and with
regret they could not take us. We would now be going by train to Clova in
NW Quebec on the Senneterre line.
We were driven to a small city of 13 000, La Tuque to meet Rollande Savoie,
the Director of the Outfitters' Association. Rollande is a vivacious lady and
very likeable. She made us feel at home quite promptly. We were to go for
lunch at a nearby restaurant. At lunch, we met her husband, Jean Paul, who
works for the pulp and paper mill in La Tuque. There we learned that the
whole office staff with their significant others were going away together for the
weekend to fish. They were all ready to party. They would travel part of the
way with us.
Left: Sophie, Melanie and Valerie *** Right: Rollande with her husband Jean Paul
We were to leave at 13:00h. We left about 14:30h and we would arrive at
19:30h. This is not unusual for Friday trains to be late as it may stop to
drop-off or pick-up a passenger at any point along the way. Yes, we mean at
The trip to Clova, a distance of 270 km would take about five hours. The
train was made up of Engine #6401,Baggage #8623, Passenger #8146 and
Passenger #8119. The coach today was extremely warm. Today, the weather
was very warm considering the time of year. It was like a summer day. We,
unfortunately, could not take too many pictures, as the heavy growth of
trees is almost adjacent to the tracks. And when there was a clearing, we
were not able to fire up the camera before losing the view. We went by
kilometres of old burned forests, large stands of cut timber ready for
shipping to the mills, piles and piles of wood chips which would be shipped out
to the pulp and paper mills and first growth forests.
We travelled to Windigo with the group from the Outfitter's Association.
They were obviously ready for a party weekend. They were a fun group. As
they disembarked, they reminded us to look for them on Sunday.
Nearing the end of today's trip, we started to see more and more lumber
roads but we hadn't seen anyone for miles.
A vibrant Roger Morin, owner of the Walleye Club at Pointe aux Dorés
greeted us in Clova at 19:30h. The club is located on the south bay of the
Gouin Reservoir. This bay is also called Lac Bureau, the original name of this
body of water before the construction of the Gouin storage dam, which now
covers more than 100 km by 60 km (60 miles by 40 miles). These waters are
renowned for their exceptional pickerel (walleye) and northern pike fishing.
We loaded our luggage in the back of the truck and climbed into the truck.
We drove for about forty-five minutes on the gravel lumber truck roads at
100 km/h. What a great ride. He did make us feel better when he told us
that we wouldn't run into a logging truck because they had started their
weekend. This trip was followed by four kilometres of bone shattering
bouncing down his new road. He has owned this club for three years and has
already made a number of positive changes. Having this new road saved us a
two-hour boat ride. We came to the end of the road. A boat awaited our
load and we were off again. A very quick five minute boat ride in the dark
brought us to the lights of the camp on an island. Further information can
be found at
The cabins were very rustic. All cabins included all necessary housekeeping
facilities. Outhouses were always close by. As well, there was a community
washroom with showers, a kitchen and dining room for those guests who
wanted the American plan.
Jean Marc, his ten-year-old son met us with the ATV and trailer for our
luggage, which was quickly loaded and taken to our cabin. We were
introduced to his wife Pauline Nadon. We had already been warned that she
was an excellent cook, which we were to soon find out. For dinner tonight, we
had a salad, rice with beef and vegetable stir-fry. This really filled us as
we both declined a great looking dish of apple crisp and ice cream. Around
the kitchen/Dining Room were pictures of guests with their catches. In one
picture there were at least fourteen Walleye (Dorés) that all appeared to be
in excess of two kilograms (about 4 lbs. each. On our trip back to our
cottage, Roger told us of a guest who had caught a Northern Pike that
weighed in at just less than 12 kilograms (about 26 lbs.) and measured 1.1
metres (41 inches) in length. The fish finally, gave up the fight after forty-
five minutes. Roger continued telling us that his hot spots for fishing were
always chosen in the morning after he knows the direction of the wind. This
he told us is where the fish will be biting. The Walleye are, at this time of
the year, in about 30-40 feet of water but the depth of the lake can be 80
feet or more.
Jean Marc had just bought a book of survival in the woods. And he had set
up the fire according to the directions. After dinner, he was setting up a
makeshift lean-to to sleep in overnight. They both felt that it would be a good
thing for him to try. He was quite excited about the whole idea. He is taking
English at school this year and was able to say a few things in English.
Once again our eyes were quite heavy and rest came quickly to both of us
before the generator went off for the day. Now that is one way of getting
people to go to bed.
We had a late breakfast this morning as we both slept in and did some
reading. Doug had gone blueberry picking and had a pot of large juicy berries
waiting for Kent. After breakfast, we decided to take a little time for
ourselves and put our thoughts down on paper. Eventually we did take a walk
around the island where this camp is located. The weather is very warm for
this time of the year. It looks like the island is just an outcropping of sand,
as are all the islands in the area. The beach is some ten to thirty feet wide and at
one place juts out into the lake some one hundred fifty feet. On the North
side of the island, Roger has started to build a stonewall which he hopes will
eventually surround the island and keep the erosion at bay.
As we mentioned, the day was very warm and the clouds started to roll in.
But the sun kept fighting through the clouds and by afternoon, it was clear
and bright again. In the western hills, you could hear the chatter of arguing
Bald Eagles. It is a beautiful site here. The leaves are just starting to show
a hint of what is to come.
We had a light lunch at noon due the anticipation of a great fish fry this evening.
The generator that supplies all the electrical needs goes off between 13:00h
and 16:00 h. We liked this, as everyone seems to have a little siesta.
Roger has decided that this is the time for us to go out fishing. Off we
went checking his favourite fishing holes. Doug was the first to land a
keeper…a doré (walleye-pickerel). This time we had a wet box on board to
keep the fish. If we didn't have a bite in a couple of casts Roger would say to
Doug, "Mr. Anchorman, time to pull it up." This always seemed to happen
when Doug had just cast. Finally, we got some real action, just off the
campsite. While we all caught some fish, Doug and Roger were obviously on
the correct side of the boat. And I think that Roger was going to teach
these guys from Ontario about fishing. Roger would no sooner put his line in
the water and he would get a hit. He would shrug his shoulders and say,
"Come on, it is time for you guys." Then a big hearty laugh would come from
him and he'd be back at it. A beautiful sunset preceded our return to land.
We had caught over thirty fish but kept only nine for dinner. Each of these
beauties weighed in at about two pounds. This was a very enjoyable
experience. We think Roger would have liked us to get more but it was great
fun anyway. Interestingly, he noted that it was fun for him because he could
get to practice his English. And, that he did at every occasion.
When we arrived back at camp, the other guests were also returning with
equally abundant catches. There was quite a camaraderie at the fish cleaning
This camp was an extremely enjoyable part of our trip. Roger and Pauline
were truly genuine hosts.
Supper was served about 20:30h it consisted of: what else? Fresh-cooked
pickerel with Swedish meatballs, baby carrots, mashed potatoes, with
freshly baked bread. The dessert was slices of two freshly cooked pies, a
blueberry and a raspberry with ice cream. It was obvious that Pauline had
been very busy picking blueberries and cooking while we were out enjoying
ourselves. Also, a long-time family friend, Mario, cooked all the fish and
joined us for dinner. He had had come up for a couple of weeks to help paint
the cabins. We finally left the kitchen after an evening of great food, a lot
of good fun and a great feeling of fullness.
A hearty, Good Morning, Breakfast is ready! from Marc Andre, started our
Sunday morning. Breakfast was pancakes and ham with real maple syrup. We
packed up to prepare for our tip to the train in Clova. Pauline and Jean Marc
went home to Maniwaki (a 5h drive) on Sunday afternoon and return the
following Friday evening. Marc Andre goes to school and Pauline works for a
Caisse Populaire (bank). In the late autumn, Roger returns to Maniwaki to
work in the mills as a wood grader.
We left at 11:30h as the trip will take a little over an hour. Today we all
packed our luggage on the barge to go to the mainland. This barge is used for
all of the heavy lugging in the camp. Joining us is one of their hard workers,
Red who was going home for a week and then he'd return for the hunting
camps that would be coming in then. By the end of the day the camp will be
empty save for Roger and Mario. They have a small group coming into fish on
Tuesday for three days.
On reaching Clova, we walked around to discover the small town. We stocked up on
soft drinks for our next place. Kent met quite a different friend outside the
General Store in Clova. The picture is very revealing…. Check it out !
The train from Senneterre arrived in Clova about 13:00 h about five minutes
late. Train #604 consisted of Engine #6401, Baggage #8623,
Passenger#8146 and #8119. The engineers were Louis Arsenault and Andre
Boulet and the Service Manager was Christine Simet.
The run down to McTavis was a rather uneventful run. All the children who
got on today had to have their sugar fix, including both of us. Our travelling
group from La Tuque arrived, a little worse for wear after their weekend. It
would be back to work for them tomorrow to get a little rest. The two canoers
from earlier on in the week arrived just as we were getting off at Mactavis.
It looked like they had a great time on their trip as well.
We arrived at McTavis at 16:00h. Mr. Donald Ferrar
met us at the railway and loaded our luggage into his boat that
was fifty feet from the railroad stop. Before we started out, he wanted us
to see the main lodge at McTavis. The three-story log-built Chalet was set
back from the tracks but faced the lake. It had 10 double rooms, 2 wash
rooms with showers, and a wide living room on the second floor. It was
completed in a Scandinavian, which is a six hundred year old style of building.
He told us he had to use many antique tools to get the desired effect. He
started building it at age seventeen and after two and one half years the
building was completed. This chalet is truly a work of art.
We then set off for our cottage. Donald's boat had a 4-stroke 150hp motor
attached to it that made the next 25 kilometres ride go by in a very short
time. We passed our red-roofed cottage on the run and went another three
or four kilometres further. This was Donald's home where he outfitted us a
boat (9.9 hp) that Doug drove back to our cottage. Donald showed us our
cottage and left to get on with other business. We were situated across
from a number of vacant cottages. The silence was deafening. We unpacked
and put the groceries for the next two days.
Our wooden log cabin consisted of a large combined kitchen, dining and living
room. There was a bathroom with shower, and two bedrooms with two singles
or a double bed and a single. A wood stove was prominent in the living room
area. At the front was a lovely covered deck that looked out on the water.
We started to unwind from the rail and boat travels of the day. We did a
little reading. We noticed the Scotch was getting low. Doug started dinner
at about 19:30h. We gorged ourselves on steak, browned potatoes, raw and
cooked vegetables and a fresh loaf of crusty bread. A bottle of wine from
our host, Donald Farrar complimented our meal. Our shopper in La Tuque
had a sweet tooth as we had brownies, Mae West's, butter-pecan tarts, and
cookies. The brownies were excellent. We were so full; there would be no
dishwashing this evening. The small propane lights were very weak so we
could not do much reading. We were asleep by ten o'clock. Only to be awaken
shortly after by the sounds of an outside attack of an army of chipmunks
trying to get into the cabin. Well, it sounded like an army. After a few well-
placed fists to the wall, we slept soundly.
Doug was up and out early this morning while Kent let the inside of his eyes
relax a little more. Doug went off and explored the series of trails around
the cottage. The sunrise foretold of weather to come but there wasn't a
cloud in the sky and the lake was as smooth as glass.
Breakfast was a hearty meal as we cleaned-up the bacon and the eggs. And
then, Kent dug into the dishes. About 09:30h, we were ready to get out to
On our way out this morning, on the opposite point of land, a lady was trying
to get our attention by yelling and waving a towel at us. These were our only
neighbours for miles. We had seen her and someone else fishing earlier in
the morning. We made right for her as fast as the little 9.9 hp engine would
take us. These were our neighbours. When we got there a frustrated young
lady joined us and told us she couldn't get the boat started. It was tied up on
the other side of the point. The three of us went over to check it out. Kent
hopped into the boat and immediately noticed a quantity of gas on the
water's surface. It had been flooded. With a number of tries, he finally got
it going. Ah yes, we had achieved hero status.
Doug had no sooner cast his line in the water than it had a resounding hit. He
was able to wrestle an eighteen-inch Northern pike to the side of the boat.
But just as he was going to land him the line broke and he disappeared. Even
Kent would say that this was a beauty. Immediately, Doug realized that he
had the wrong line on his reel. It was the six-pound test line he had used for
catching the trout.
We quickly re-grouped and were soon ready to give the fish another scare.
Little did we know that it had worked? The scare, that is. We tried a number
of Mr. Farrar's favourite spots but to no avail. The wind had freshened up
considerably by this time. The skies were looking more foreboding. We found
a beautiful little river that fed into the main body of water. It was a
delightful place to fish. Unfortunately, we brought up more logs than fish.
About 14:00h, we went in for a little lunch just as it started to rain very
After lunch, and without any further warning, the skies opened up. It rained
so hard that it looked like snow. Doug decided that it was time to go for a
swim. Kent sat on the deck, read, and enjoyed this early autumn deluge.
After about an hour, it stopped as quickly as it started. It was not long
before we were back into the boat. Doug landed another pike a lot smaller
than the first one. It was too small to keep so it was returned to the water.
About 16:00h, the cold front that was associated with the weather started
to go through the area. There was a noticeable change in the warm
temperatures we had been enjoying. Since Doug was still in his swimming
apparel, he was getting cold. So he went back to the cottage and Kent
continued to fish.
This would have been the time for another fish story, but alas, not this time.
Dinner would have to be without the fish we were supposed to catch today.
Just before Kent returned to shore, he met the two neighbours out fishing.
They had just returned from Donald's place. The older lady was feeling a
little better now. Donald had placed an additional motor on the back of their
boat to be used….just in case.
Kent returned to the cabin to find it toasty warm. Doug had started a fire in
the wood stove. The two great fishers dined on spaghetti and meat sauce for
their last dinner. After dinner, we went down to the beach and watch the
heavens pass us by. The stars and other celestial bodies were brilliant. What
a great way to end a fabulous trip.
We had another early night to bed. The fire broke the chill throughout the
Tuesday September 11,2001
Doug was up early to start the fire this morning. Damn! It was cold. We had
breakfast and cleaned the cottage. Before we left, we had been noticing
these birds that flew in very close to us and were not timid at all. They
regularly flew in and sat on the deck quite close to us when we were reading
outside. Kent went out with a few pieces of bread and held them in the air.
Before long, the birds would swoop in and perch on Kent's wrist and eat the
bread. We later learned that these birds were Grey or Canada Jays, a
relative of the Blue Jay and the Crow.
We were on the river to Donald's home by 09:30h. From Donald's home, we
travelled down the Flamand River past our cottage and then on to the train
station where he had started just two short days ago. Before we arrived at the
dock, Donald showed us where the Flamand River joined with the St. Maurice
River and where the new river flowed south to the St. Lawrence River. The
waiting area at McTavis is a small building in total disrepair. There is a small
wood stove which is to keep people warm as they wait for the train in the
dead of winter. Unfortunately, the chimney pipes are rusted and full of
holes. This is one accident waiting to happen.
The train pulled in about 10:35h. (Engine # 6401,Baggage Car #8612 and
Passenger Cars #8119 and #8146) This time we had a new somewhat
outspoken service manager, Ron Langevin.
It wasn't until we arrived at La Tuque that we learned of the death and
destruction created by the terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington,
and rural Pennsylvania. At this point, all we could rely on was word of mouth
as there were no radios or newspapers with any information. We arrived at
Hervey Junction and the two trains were joined together and we met up with
Ricky Kulak, the service manager from our trip north on Wednesday of last
week. He brought us more news of the world happenings.
After the usual stopover, we were told that a freight train had derailed just
a few kilometres up the track in front of our train. We wouldn't be moving
too soon. It would probably be a couple of hours before we would be leaving.
This delay would mean we would miss our connecting train and it would be
midnight before we would get home.
It was at this point that VIA decided that the four onboard who had
connecting trains would be best served by taking a taxi to Montreal. At this
point, the two service managers and the engineer requested our TrainWeb
hats and T-shirts. As a thank you we acquiesced. They were very impressed
and wished us luck.
After a short delay, the van arrived and the four of us plus two train
employees climbed on board. The two train employees were dropped off and
we raced to Montreal. Doug was up front with the cab driver and the other
passenger and by the end of the run he felt his French had improved
remarkably. Kent talked with a young lady who lived in Gatineau (near
Ottawa). Her mother owns a Bed and Breakfast in La Tuque. Kent was then
tested on his comprehension of the language as the brochure was totally in
French. This recitation received a great deal of chuckles. Kim was returning
home and was excited about the prospects of having her modelling portfolio
shot the following weekend. As we parted, Kim said that she would call Kent
when she became famous. We arrived in Montreal about ten minutes before
the train would have arrived if it were on time. A Red Cap took our luggage
directly to the train.
We went directly to the VIA 1 Lounge to check in. Everyone there was
huddled around the televisions, trying to get as much up-to-date information
as possible about the calamity south of the border.
We boarded our train to find that we were seated adjacent to a VIP, who we
later discovered was the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, Hillary Weston.
She and her entourage (aide and security detail) were already seated. She
was obviously on the train due to the day's events. It was interesting to
watch the people and employees who made their way to her seat to have a
few words. We figured this was their touch with greatness. Her presence on
board perhaps compounded the problems that were to occur.
VIA 1 is the first class train that has a good reputation of great service.
Unfortunately, today's run would not live up to what is expected in coach
class on this last leg of the trip.
Doug's wife, Laurie, was waiting to drive us home when we finally disembarked at Brockville, Ontario.
Overall, this was a most interesting trip. We had succeeded in getting our
share of fish, meeting a number of very interesting people and having a
great time. Our VIA Rail service, with the exception of the VIA 1 trip on the last leg from Montreal to Brockville,
was excellent. The VIA staff we met on the Northern Quebec runs were
exceptional and great representatives of the organization. The three
outfitters we visited were superb. We have already planned to return one day soon.
Click on each link below to view each set of photos:
Set #01 /
Set #02 /
Set #03 /
Set #04 /
Set #06 /
Set #07 /
Set #08 /
Set #09 /
Set #11 /
Set #12 /
Set #13 /
Set #14 /
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