Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue September 29 2015

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | September 29, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    A St. Lawrence River Cruise

    A St. Lawrence River Cruise

    The name Quebec means “where the river narrows” in the Algonquin language so it's fitting that one of the most scenic ways to view Quebec City is on a river cruise of the St. Lawrence. I hopped aboard the Louis Jolliet AML Croisieres ship, docked at Quebec City's Chouinard Pier and prepared for lovely panoramas.

    What I wasn't prepared for was the guide, dressed as explorer Louis Jolliet in full 17th century plumed attire. Ol' Louis provided a detailed narrative (in English and French) of the history and sights that line the river. The actual Louis Jolliet was noted for his river explorations that produced the official regional maps so he's a great choice for a St. Lawrence River guide.

    The 90-minute journey started with a glimpse of the city's famous 17th and 18th century architecture, epitomized by the Chateau Frontenac a short distance from the ship. As we sailed off, Louis explained the significance of the St. Lawrence River, which is the major outlet for the Great Lakes, flowing about 745 miles from Lake Ontario to Quebec City.

    I clustered around tables with my shipmates, watching the river roll by. Sailing from Cap Diamant (Cape Diamond), which is the name of the cape and promontory where the city is located, we learned that Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City 400 years ago along the shoreline of the river. He erected fortifications that became Fort Saint Louis and the beginnings of Old Quebec's upper town.

    The highlight of the cruise was Montmorency Falls, which are actually 99 feet higher than Niagara Falls. The falls were named for the governor of New France and feature a suspension bridge that floats just above the water for up close views. In the winter, the falls freeze into a giant cone called pain de sucre (sugar loaf) by locals who love to scale its icy texture.

    As one of the largest rivers in the world, the St. Lawrence also boasts lots of wild sights. I spotted ospreys and seagulls skimming the water’s surface and according to Louis, salmon and sea turtles swim below, along with whales and dolphins further upstream. The river served as an important route for the fur trade and we saw sites that once housed trading posts along the shore.

    A bar and bistro supply refreshments during the tour and Louie offered a local beer for the guest who could remember the names of three of the sites we just passed. I didn't win that bet but I managed to retain some of the history of the St. Lawrence as well as an appreciation for its beauty.


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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