blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Saturday afternoon and evening, Trois-Rivières

Written Saturday evening

Chris said, "Let's stay in Trois-Rivières, tonight!" so at 11:30 this morning we climbed into PTN and took off to the north-east. Once at 7000ft we had a 15 knot tailwind, well above the fluffy layer of cloud that mostly obscured the Laurentian hills. It was a clearer sky near our destination, where a young man in the circuit was calling "vent-arrière pour un poser-décoler sur la piste zéro cinq" (downwind for a touch-and-go, runway 05). We landed at exactly 1pm and lunched at the airport café, Le Pilote. By far the most dangerous part of the journey was our crazy taxi ride to the downtown hotel where I'd booked a room, near the rue du Fleuve.

Trois-Rivières has developed considerably since we were here last, not so many years ago. It must have had a dynamic mayor and city council in the interim, because a big investment has been made in adding touristic touches to the Parc Portuaire and its surroundings, the most impressive addition being a vast Amphitheatre (COGECO) at the confluence of the Rivière Saint-Maurice and the grand fleuve, which will be a venue for Céline Dion, Cirque du Soleil shows and the like. It looks as though they are just putting the finishing touches to its landscaping. The lodgings and restaurants seem to be thriving; the city was teaming with visitors, several wearing black, on big motorbikes ... where from, we wondered --- Montréal? Quebec City? The nearby townships? Even so, the little corner of old Trois-Rivières, the rue des Ursulines where the nuns used to have their convent, is as tranquil as ever, with a peaceful little park and fountain opposite the church. We walked past the little gite where we'd stayed once, Le Fleurvil; I'd forgotten its name and I wished I'd been able to find it online this morning. This part of town has a very European feel to it, with 18th and 19th century stone houses.

Ursuline nuns of Trois-Rivières, 1947
I paid $4 to visit to the Musée des Ursulines which included access to the chapelle (1716), in fact a towering baroque church with elaborately painted dome, pillars, gilded altar: created with the full force of the counter-reformation behind it. The focal point was a grandiose painting on the ceiling of the dome of a battle between the Archangel Michel and Lucifer, both sporting magnificent wings, but Lucifer without any doubt on the losing side. In the front part of the museum a display of two beds and bedside cupboards from the nuns' former dormitories caught my eye. A video clip played on the screen: an elderly nun telling us how she prayed for the grace to remain "always subservient to those in authority" over her. That's the part I'd have had the most trouble with, the obedience, more of a challenge than my vows of chastity and poverty, I should imagine. They also had photos on display of the school run by the nuns, the girls in it very disciplined, and of the nuns themselves, bowing their heads.

This evening after a supper on an outdoor patio, not on the main street (des Forges) where all the action is and a lot of noise, but on the quieter rue St-Roch (at the Resto St-Roch, in fact), we walked back to the Promenade du Parc Portuaire where people were line-dancing for hours, encouraged by a man shouting instructions, and where further along a band of cadets was giving a very well rehearsed musical entertainment with trumpets, trombones, tubas, clarinets, flutes, drums, etc., some of them singing and dancing. We watched a big vessel of the Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) pull away from its moorings after hooting its horn three times to announce it was leaving port. Chris guessed it was a grain carrier. We watched it make its graceful way upstream to Laviolette bridge, by moonlight, the sun having set below splendid, golden-pink cirrus clouds.

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