Travel log

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Since 2014, Pride has been a growing event. in Pembroke. Pride Walk began when a group of friends decided that the city—and the Ottawa Valley area in general—needed more LGBTQ+ awareness and representation. So, they organized their first Pride event in 2014, a walk through downtown Pembroke with almost 150 attendees. In the past five years, their work has expanded beyond events—organizers recently partnered with PFLAG Renfrew County to bring support meetings to the Ottawa Valley. And events go well beyond the OG walk; last year’s schedule included an inclusive yoga class, Drag Queen Storytime at Pembroke’s public library, an all-ages drag show and, of course, brunch, an overall attendance of a thousand people.

Usually taking place early June, the 2020 schedule is still to be confirmed due to the current coronavirus pandemic.

At the confluence of the Muskrat River and the Ottawa River, Pembroke is main city of Renfrew County, with a population of 15,000.

The first European settlers came to the area now known as Pembroke attracted by the growing lumbering operations of the area.

Originally named Miramichi, the village was renamed after Sidney Herbert, First Admiralty Secretary from 1841 to 1845 and son of George Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke. It was named seat for Renfrew County in 1861. This set the stage for construction shortly thereafter on the Renfrew County Courthouse, and the arrival of many civil servants, much wealth and much construction.
From 2005 to 2007, the courthouse and (now disused) jail were re-constructed into one building and historic renovations were also completed. Visitors on weekdays can view original 1867 jail cells in the basement, and the original courtroom, complete with a huge replica of the original brass light fixture. County meetings were held here for many years.
Other historic buildings that survive in Pembroke include a historic synagogue, two original hospitals, the Dunlop mansion (Grey Gables Manor Bed & Breakfast), the 'Munroe Block' downtown, and two houses belonging to the White family. A fire in 1918 downtown destroyed many buildings, including the Pembroke Opera House.

Local attractions include 30 historic murals in the downtown area depicting the history of the city, from steam engines to logging.
At the Champlain Trail Pioneer Village and Museum, the history of Ottawa Valley settlers comes alive inside the fully furnished schoolhouse, pioneer log home and church — all built in the 1800s. Other outdoor exhibits include train station, sawmill, blacksmith shop, stonelifter, carriage shed, woodworking shop, bake oven, smokehouse and a 1923 Bickle fire engine. The large museum features artifacts which range from fossils and First Nations arrowheads to furniture, clothing and manufactured products of Pembroke from various eras. There is also a replica of Samuel de Champlain's Astrolabe (he brought the original to the Valley in 1613), an original Cockburn pointer boat, Corliss steam engine, doctor's examination room, fancy parlour rooms, general store, hair salon and more.

The Pembroke Hydro Museum commemorates national hydro-electric development in Pembroke, including the first electric streetlights in Pembroke, and the first municipal building with electric lights (Victoria Hall).

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Old Québec is the most popular tourist destination in Québec and features many of the greatest restaurants in the city. In the tradition of Serge Bruyère, many fine chefs in Québec are found in Québec city. Let us mention Jean-Luc Boulay (Le Saint-Amour and Chez Boulay), Arnaud Marchand (Chez Boulay), Daniel Vézina (Laurie Raphaël) and Louis Pacquelin (Panache) among others. Jean-Luc Boulay and Arnaud Marchand from Chez Boulay offer the experience of northern French cuisine while highlighting typical local products. It is located on the ground floor of the elegant Manoir Victoria, on Saint-Jean Street. Close by, Mr. Boulay also presides over the kitchen activities at Saint-Amour, a prominent figure of Québec’s gastronomic scene. Moreover, Saint Amour appears in Trip Advisors’ top 10 fine dining restaurants and it is not unusual to spot a celebrity seated there.

Situated in an old 18th century warehouse in Vieux-Québec and part of the Auberge Saint-Antoine, the restaurant Panache offers the refined menu of chef Louis Pacquelin. While there, you can discover the artefacts showcased on the walls of the building, recalling the rich history of the French colony.

Tourists will also appreciate Les Anciens Canadiens, a restaurant established in a heritage building, where you can discover or rediscover some of the classics of traditional Québec cuisine. Near Château Frontenac, the Continental is renowned for its flambés. Close by, Le Parmesan offers delicious classics of Italian cuisine

Vieux-Québec and Vieux-Port

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Walking in the streets of Vieux-Québec is like following in the steps of the pioneers who gave birth to this nation. Founded by Samuel de Champlain as a trading post in 1608, the colony first developed around l’Habitation de Québec before expanding into the first streets traced around the Place Royale in the heart of the Vieux-Port. Restored in the early 1970s, this historical district brings us back in time to the capital of Nouvelle-France (New France) at the end of the 17th century. This was the era of Louis XIV, a bust of whom adorns the area. As I myself am a descendant of Mathurin Gagnon, who was one of the first merchants of Québec and whose home and retail store were located at the current site of the Sault-au-Matelot park (or Parc de l’Unesco), walking on the cobblestones of these historic sites is like reconnecting with the history of our roots in this country. A few steps away, Place Royale is the main site of the annual Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France, recreating the French colonial era of its original inhabitants.

In the Vieux-Port, one must absolutely visit the Musée de la Civilisation. The neighborhood is home to many gay-friendly establishments, among them the restaurant Marie-Clarisse, which was opened at the foot of the Casse-Cou staircase by nenowned chef Serge Bruyère.

Heading up to Haute-ville, one can admire the elements of fortification which have made Québec unique, for it is the only still-fortified city in North America. It is the neighborhood commonly reffered to as Vieux-Québec. Built at the end of the 19th century near the Citadelle fort, the hotel Château Frontenac rises above Place Royal on one side of the Terrasse Dufferin. The latter is a splendid walkway offering a spectacular view of the area and is perfect for romantic strolls. One can easily understand why the founders of Québec chose this strategic spot to establish the colony, which would become the capital of New France, then Lower Canada and finally, Québec.

The gay lifestyle took root fairly early in Vieux-Québec. The Sauna-hôtel Hippocampe on Mac Mahon Street, the oldest gay establishment still operating in the province (where some might recognize the interiors used for Robert Lepage’s film Le Confessionnal), has been open for over four decades. The owner, Yvon Pépin, had previously tended bar in many Vieux-Québec clubs, in a time when homosexual life was still mostly underground.

André Gagnon

887

After more than 30 years in the business and with a staggering number of productions behind him (including such multi-hour epics as The Dragons’ Trilogy, The Seven Streams of the River Ota and Wagner’s Ring cycle), Robert Lepage is unquestionably a giant of the theatre. So it seems apt that in his latest touring show, he roams among scale models of apartment buildings and cars like some erudite and inquisitive Godzilla unleashed onto the streets of Quebec City.

887 is both the number of the apartment building in which Lepage grew up and the name of the latest piece from his company Ex Machina. It’s also Lepage’s first solo show since The Andersen Project in 2005.

The dollhouse world created for 887 is partly influenced by an exhibition Lepage came across in an Osaka museum, which used similarly scaled-down models to make the point that memory has the odd effect of making the physical world of the past seem smaller.

“At the very start, my intention was to do something about the theme of memory in general,” Lepage explained in a brief, but characteristically articulate phone interview. “But I’ve never really started a show with a theme. I often need an object or a thing. So of course, that building where I lived, and where I was brought up in the 1960s, was an interesting object to play around with, because it contained not only my family’s story, but the life story of the neighbours also.”

As well as the apartment building on the predominantly anglophone Murray Ave., where Lepage grew up, the set — both simple and technologically complex — also unfolds to reveal the lonely nighthawk diner where his taxi-driver father would sometimes pass his time. We also see a puppet of Charles de Gaulle emerging from Lepage’s pocket to ride a tiny motorcade through an adoring crowd of Quebecers.

As a man in his late 50s, it’s understandable that Lepage is mining memories of childhood and family for his material, although he is on record as saying that virtually every show he has created is in some way autobiographical — a form of therapy.

But 887 would seem to be Lepage’s most directly autobiographical piece so far. Its origins lie in an amusing bit of pop-quiz fluff.

“The theme of memory came from quite trivial things,” Lepage explained. “Why is it that I can remember so easily the lyrics to the opening theme song of Gilligan’s Island? Why do I remember these trivial things and I can’t remember the names of important collaborators?”

The show’s theme was also born of Lepage’s difficulty in learning the words of Speak White, Michèle Lalonde’s blistering Québécois poem that denounced the dominance of the language of the oppressor. Lepage found himself pondering the phenomenon of memory after being invited to read the poem at a commemorative event in 2010. (It was first delivered live by Lalonde in the crisis year of 1970.) The poem, he explains, also provided an important signpost in the maze of memories.

“There were so many things to be said about the 1960s and my youth, my family, the political context, and all these things, and it was all over the place. And Speak White was pretty much the ideal end point, the endgame of this story. So it helped me kind of sift through it all and create a kind of structure.”


The set of Robert Lepage's 887 includes a figure of Charles de Gaulle riding a tiny motorcade through an adoring crowd of Quebecers. 

Not surprisingly, given the inclusion of Lalonde’s poem, politics is never far away in 887.

“It was a class struggle more than anything else,” Lepage said of the anglophone/francophone divide (887 is being performed only in French at TNM). “It so happened that the bosses spoke English and the employees spoke French. So it was much more of a working-class thing in the ’60s, and eventually evolved into something completely different.

“People have forgotten that, and I think it’s our job as artists to go back and try to understand why did this happen, who said what and who triggered what. I allow myself to do that in this show because those were years when I was a kid. It’s not seen through the eyes of a mature adult who votes and has a party membership card. It’s a completely different way of looking at it. It’s more poetic, it’s more personal, it’s more emotional. It’s more about family also.”

The show recalls Lepage’s life with his mother and several siblings, as well as a grandmother going through the early stages of dementia. (Lepage made characteristic connections between physiology, language and art when he mentioned research showing that “if you’re bilingual, the onset of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s are delayed by about four years. Also, learning music late in your life is very good for your brain.”)

But the family member who emerges as the most central to Lepage’s memory play is his father — which came as something of a surprise to the artist.

“I guess it was a big shock because I always thought I was much more of a mommy’s boy,” he said. “My mom was funny and she told stories, so I always thought I became an actor and a storyteller because I carry all that from her. I always thought that my father didn’t have any real influence on my life. As I explored this idea of memory and this whole period of my life, I realized how much closer to him I was, and how I resembled him in so many aspects. I’d kind of kept that at bay for a while, for some reason, but he became pretty much central to the piece in a way I did not intend.”

887
NAC English Theatre
Featuring Ex Machina / Robert Lepage
When: Jan. 10 – 27, 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on weekends
Where: National Arts Centre, Babs Asper Theatre

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Sillery, Sainte-Foy and Cap-Rouge

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Sillery, Sainte-Foy and Cap-Rouge have the reputation of being the more affluent neighborhoods of the capital. This area is home of the main campus of Université Laval, the oldest francophone higher education establishment in America, where the first LGTBQ organization in the capital, the Groupe gai de l’Université Laval, first appeared.

Whether arriving in Québec from the south shore using the highway or the Chemin du Roy, or coming in from the international airport, one inevitably crosses this district before accessing downtown Québec. There are also many hotels in the vicinity of the bridges, especially along Laurier Boulevard. This might be the more practical choices for those coming into the city by car, as the old narrow streets of Old Québec where obviously conceived for horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians, not cars. Shoppers will appreciate the proximity of the shopping malls also found on Laurier Boulevard.

Coming over the bridges from this district, you should visit the Promenade Samuel –De-Champlain park along the river, which was inaugurated in 2008 for the 400th anniversary of the city. Whether arriving by foot, bike or car, the promenade offers a spectacular view of the city and leads right into historic Old Québec. This is a great way to connect with a natural environment in the heart of the city.

Sillery is certainly the most affluent neighborhood of the capital. Its trendiest street, Maguire Avenue, is an area especially appreciated by our community, offering quaint boutiques, with good restaurants and nice terraces. It also features one of the most remarkable parks in the city, Spencer Wood, which became a showcase for horticulture in North America through the efforts of its owner, Henry Atkinson. For nearly 20 years, the governor-generals of United Canada lived on the property, which was purchased by the Québec government in 1870 and served as the residence of Québec lieutenant-governors until 1966. A major fire eventually destroyed the main residence. Visit the gorgeous park by the Saint Lawrence River, the beautiful gardens and relics of the site's long history.

Villa Bagatelle, with its distinctive irregular forms and ornamentations, was built in the picturesque English architectural style of the 19th century. The cultural centre hosts temporary art and history exhibitions. The Villa is also renowned for its garden where you can admire many native plants and a range of underbrush species.

Also noteworthy is the Aquarium du Québec, with its gardens and outdoor tanks, and a main building featuring many exhibition spaces. The venue includes nearly 10 000 specimens representing 300 species of mammals, indigenous and exotic fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles. Watch marine mammals, such as polar bears, walruses and several seal species, frolic in the outdoor park. Many animals from the Pacific Ocean swim in our huge 350 000-litre tank. The area overlooks the Saint Lawrence River from atop a cliff, an excellent way of discovering these faraway regions.

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Trendy locals appreciate their impressive wine list and often drop by for a drink after work, or to dine on one of their many gourmet pizzas. Originality and flavour are on the menu here. Piz’za-za has an urban decor, with brick, wood and mirrors, centering on their impressive bar and open view of the kitchen. It’s on the second floor that we find the pièce de résistance, their large glass wine cellar that would make any oenophile drool. During the summer months, you’ll want to check out their lovely back patio.

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The restaurant staff is remarkably friendly and quick, creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere. Employees receive regular courses on the wines offered in the restaurant to improve their service. The menu has many charms, for example, their tomato gratin with brie and raclette cheese made with Griffon beer. Bold, simple, and exquisite. The pizzas are delicious and made with fresh ingredients like fennel, fig, mango and smoked trout, and their salads and pastas are colourful and fresh. Every season, the chef makes up a new menu inspired by seasonal local ingredients.

The restaurant also offers wine tastings hosted by oenologist Richard Charbonneau. With varying themes, these workshops are a fantastic way to discover the diversity of wines while savouring a succulent meal.

Piz’za-za is definitely worth the detour. Thanks to its proximity to Canada`s capital, it is common for locals and tourists to cross the river for some good food, good wine, all at a reasonable price. To view their menu or find out about their wine tastings, visit their website at www.pizzaza.ca

Piz’za-za Restau Bar à vin 36, rue Laval Gatineau, Québec info@pizzaza.ca www.pizzaza.ca

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Both a capital as well as a sought-after tourist destination, Québec is a city offering a wide variety of fine dining establishments. Among the dozens of restaurants in the very popular Old Québec neighborhood, one can find the finest tables and most prestigious chefs in the city. Much importance is given to local produce and the menus are widely inspired by French cuisine. This great culinary tradition is largely the result of the efforts of the late Serge Bruyère, who was a precursor of new cuisine in Québec, updating French traditions as early as the 1970s.

From fast-food to haute cuisine, there are upwards of 2500 restaurants in the greater Québec city area, representing a ratio of 350 restaurants for every inhabitant, which is 3 times more than in New York! There are endless choices for every visitor. Beyond the Old Québec neighborhood, other areas such as Grande Allée, Cartier and René-Lévesque Streets near the National Assembly are positively crawling with great restaurants, many of which offer lively terraces in the summertime.

Many gay-friendly cafés and bistros can be discovered (or rediscovered) on Saint-Jean Street in the heart of the Faubourg Saint-Jean-Baptiste. The Nouvo Saint-Roch has also more recently emerged as a sought-after destination. The Saint-Roch and Saint-Sauveur neighborhoods offer many restaurants featuring a diverse selection of food from around the world. The more affluent Sillery neighborhood also offers excellent restaurants, among them those housed by Université Laval as well as many hotels and shopping malls along Laurier Boulevard.

Although Québec proudly displays its French character and traditions, and probably as a result of having always been a capital focused on tourism for over a century, no regional specialties are really associated with the city. That being said, Québec’s gastronomic trademark is associated with the best that French cuisine can offer and local produce of exceptional culinary quality.

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In the summertime, beach enthusiasts will not want to miss visiting the Baie de Beauport. It has been a popular cruising area for years, offering enchanting scenery on the Saint-Lawrence coastline. Every summer, visitors can practice volleyball, soccer, canoeing, kayaking and sailing, or just relax on the beach and have a swim. Baie de Beauport is located only five minutes away from downtown Québec.

At the far edge of the old port and Nouvo Saint-Roch, Gare du Palais serves as Via Rail’s terminal and links Montréal to Québec City. Built in 1915 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the two-story châteauesque station is similar in design to the Château Frontenac. This magnificent railway station has been designated as a heritage site.

18km from downtown Québec in the Ste-Foy-Sillery-Cap Rouge district, Jean-Lesage International Airport is the world’s gateway into the capital and the eastern and northern regions of the province. It is the second most important airport in the province after Pierre-Elliott Trudeau in Montréal. Close by, the Grand Time Hotel’s two charming establishments offer travellers some well-deserved rest.

Serge Bruyère

A native of Lyon in France, Serge Bruyère fell in love with the city of Québec from his very first visit in 1976. He immigrated to its province during the Montréal Olympic Games, working at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel before moving to Québec city. Prior to leaving his native country, he had undergone his training in the kitchens of l’Auberge du Tunnel in Auvergne with Paul Bocuse and the Troisgros brothers. He first worked at the Hilton before becoming executive chef at the Éperlan restaurant. One year later, he founded the Marie-Clarisse restaurant near the Breakneck Stairs (l’Escalier Casse-cou) with another partner. In 1980, he undertook a new adventure at the Maison Livernois on Saint-Jean Street, this time on his own: Serge Bruyère’s restaurant À La Table was created. He was among the very first chefs to work closely with local craftsmen in order to obtain high quality products for his menu. Serge Bruyère died prematurely in 1994 at the age of 33. His heritage is considered enormous: he introduced an updated version of haute cuisine, laying the foundations of a gastronomy concerned with great quality and based on a relationship of proximity with his suppliers. Throughout the 14 years of existence of À La Table, Bruyère devoted time and energy in training dozens of competent chefs like Daniel Vézina, Jean Soulard and Marie-Chantale Lepage, who to this day remain inspired by his culinary philosophy.

His passion for gastronomy as well as his devotion to the recognition of the trade were immense. He knew how to transmit his enthusiasm and the importance of working with precision, and also to respect clients and producers. Bruyère is one of only two Québec chefs to be included in the Larousse gastronomique lexicon, and was the first to introduce new cuisine to the city.

He was a humble, sympathetic and respected chef. His passion for quality produce and his unfailing technique and hard work, along with the sharing of his knowledge were of utmost importance to him. The Fondation Serge Bruyère, which is dedicated to the encouragement of Québec’s new culinary talent, serves to perpetuate his legacy.