Tuesday, June 30, 1988 6:00 p.m.
I'm ensconced in the gamekeeper's lodge at Jacques Cartier Provincial Park, deep in the heart of Québec just north of Québec City. Past both windows runs the Jacques Cartier River, swollen from the last week's rain. Around the bend upstream, I know, unfolds a glacier's causeway of sinuous valley, guarded by slate-blue cliffs with their secret hoods of mist. This secretive valley leads your mind's eye upriver into the boreal forest, wild rapids and lake-studded plateaux of the Canadian Shield. Heritage River indeed! The Jacques Cartier is what it's all about.
Yesterday we canoed this nominated Heritage River with Dénis Tremblay, Chief of Visitor Services. Oh, la belle rivière! Glossy in the brilliant sunshine after three days of rain, she was glorious, brimful, the ride of the summer. It was my first real taste of the voyageur's life this summer -- the reason I'm here singing about rivers. This is why they left their Québec farms and shipped out with La Compagnie: to run rivers like the Jacques Cartier. To ride a red canoe down the gullet of a blue gorge with your eyes filled with sunshine and spray, ears filled with thundering rapids and still pools of birdsong, lungs filled with fresh pine, fresh wind, fresh water. To feel the river lift you, toss you up and over each bright wave; to feel the paddle hard in your wet hand, the only thing keeping you (AAAUGH!) from that rock straining up through the beer-brown foam of the river.
"A gauche! A gauche! Pad-del toute straight! NOW!" yells Dénis fluently, and fluently we're through it and tingling into the runout, shaking water from our eyes and hollering "Yee-HAH!" in any language. Now that can make you understand the voyageurs.
LEFT: Looking upriver into the fault-block valley of Jacques Cartier Provincial Park, surrounded by the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve.
PHOTO: Lynn Noel
RIGHT: Alain Meunier and Teresa Garen examine the specially designed "passe migratoire" that allows returning salmon to bypass the warm, still waters above the Domtar hydroelectric dam at Donnacona, PQ, to reach higher oxygen and lower temperatures upriver on the Jacques Cartier. PHOTO: Lynn Noel
At Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Alain Meunier (right) and Teresa Garen (bottom right) help "rainmakers" experiment with a watershed demonstration from the WaterWatchers education kit, loaned by the Massachusetts Water Resources Council in co-operation with the Boston Museum of Science.