Tag Archives: quebec

Higher than Niagara Falls!

Canada boasts so many beautiful locations, for tourists and visitors alike.  We are all familiar with Niagara Falls, which borders Canada and the United States.  But in Quebec there is a special gem called Montmorency Falls and is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls!

It is at the junction of Montmorency River and the St. Lawrence River, about 10 kilometres east of Quebec City.  It has captured people’s fascination and awe since the years of Champlain.  Like most of Canada’s geography, there is a different experience to be had if you visit in the summer or in the winter.  The following videos can show you its beauty more than my words ever could.  Enjoy them.








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The Frankie Slide at Turtle Mountain

Frank Slide on May 5, 1971

The “Frank Slide” was a tragic rock-slide that took place across the town of Frank, a town known for coal-mining. The town was in the Northwest of Alberta. The slide itself consisted of 82 million metric tonnes of limestone, and nearly half a mile long, falling down from Turtle Mountain and into the “Crowsnest River” that was at the bottom of the mountain. Lasting a little longer than 90 seconds yet still managing to kill an estimated 90 people, the Frank Slide was one of Canada’s most deadliest rock-slides.

The biggest question is, “What caused the slide?”. The answer is simply that the structure of Turtle mountain was very unstable due to thrust forces and gravity, and this tragedy was inevitably going to happen.

The “Frankie Slide” Myth

Shortly after the slide, a myth was created about a baby girl having survived the rock avalanche, but was inaccurate. The story itself is somewhat true in saying that there were several younger girls that survived, although the part of the story that mentions a baby girl being the sole survivor, was a tad far-fetched.

There were three girls who survived the rock-slide. Three year old Fernie Watkins, two-year old Marion Leitch, and 15 month old Gladys Ennis. The youngest of the three was found choking on mud and was saved by her parents. Stories began to spread that Gladys was called “Frankie Slide” and that she was the sole survivor of the rock-slide, which was as we now know, false. In fact, she alongside the two other girls, were among the other twenty plus people who had survived the rock-slide and had become victims of the Frank Slide.

Future Damage

A future avalanche is inevitable unfortunately. Scientists believe that as Turtle Mountain continues to move at a few millimetres every year, the forces which are holding the mountain together and keeping the structure stable will eventually be overpowered by the unfortunate forces of gravity leading to yet another rock-slide. However, the same scientists do not believe that there will be a rock-slide at the same side of the mountain, but it will in fact be towards the south of the mountain.

Concluding the unfortunate incident, the damage that was caused by the rock-slide consisted of many miners homes, farms, railway lines, factories and even the Frank cemetery. The slide left hundreds devastated and while many were unharmed by it, their homes destroyed and having to start again. A lot of those who lived in the town of Frank started lives elsewhere and the town begun to lessen in population.


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Let’s Talk about Confederation

The coming together of the colonies in British North America. Three colonies were made into four provinces. These were Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They became the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. The other provinces and territories joined later.

For all of the reasons the Province of Canada began to plan for Confederation, as outlined in yesterday’s post, the leaders from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had already considered joining together in a Maritime union and were planning a conference. They accepted the politicians from the Province of Canada to join them in the upcoming conference on the subject.

The Charlottetown Conference, September 1st through 9th 1864:The politicians from the Province of Canada convinced the politicians from the Maritime colonies at New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to think about an even larger union. There was no one working at the public wharf at the foot of Great George Street when the Canadian delegates arrived on the steamship SS Victoria, so Prince Edward Island representative William Henry Pope had to handle receptions by himself, including rowing out to greet the new arrivals. The Canadian delegates stayed each night on board the SS Queen Victoria, as circus-goers and the Maritime delegates had taken up the lodgings in town.

The Quebec Conference, October 10 – 27, 1864: The Conference began on October 10, 1864, on the site of present-day Montmorency Park. The Conference elected Étienne-Paschal Taché as its chairman, but it was dominated by Macdonald. Despite differences in the positions of a few of the delegates on some issues, the Quebec Conference, following so swiftly on the success of the Charlottetown Conference, was infused with a determined sense of purpose and nationalism.

The delegates from the Maritimes also raised an issue with respect to the level of government– provincial or federal– that would be given the powers not otherwise defined. Macdonald, who was aiming for the strongest central government possible, insisted that this was to be the central government, and in this he was supported by, among others, Tupper.

Prince Edward Island emerged disappointed from the Quebec Conference. It did not receive support for a guarantee of six members in the proposed House of Commons, and was denied an appropriation of $200,000 that it felt had been offered at Charlottetown to aid in buying out the holdings of absentee landlords.

On the issue of the Senate, the Maritime Provinces pressed for as much equality as possible. With the addition of Newfoundland to the Conference, the other three Maritime colonies did not wish to see the strength of their provinces in the upper chamber diluted by simply adding Newfoundland to the Atlantic category. It was Macdonald who came up with the acceptable compromise of giving Newfoundland four senators of its own when it joined.

The London Conference, December 1866 – January 1867: This was the last conference, and it took place in London, England. Leaders from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Province of Canada had to take the rough draft of the Quebec Resolutions and come up with a final agreement. The document they created was called the British North America Act. Once British Parliament approved it, Confederation could go ahead.

They all agreed that the brand-new nation needs to be called Canada, and that Canada East must be relabeled Quebec and that Canada West need to be relabeled Ontario. Inevitably, the delegates chosen to call the brand-new nation the Dominance of Canada, after “kingdom” as well as “confederation”, among many other choices, were denied for different reasons.

After the Quebec Conference, the Province of Canada’s legislature passed a bill authorizing the union. The union proved much more questionable in the Maritime districts, Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1866 that New Brunswick and Nova Scotia passed union resolutions, while Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland continued to opt against joining.

The Act was presented to Queen Victoria on February 11, 1867. The bill was introduced in the House of Lords the next day. The bill was quickly approved by the House of Lords, and then also quickly approved by the British House of Commons. The Act received royal assent on March 29, 1867, and set July 1, 1867, as the date for union

Confederation, July 1, 1867

On this date Canada became a country with four provinces. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia hardly changed, but the Province of Canada was split into two new provinces: Ontario and Quebec. A look at the map of Canada in 1867 will show a very different Canada from that of today.

It would take more than a century to add the other six provinces and three territories that today make up Canada.



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Canadian Cuisine Intro

Canadian Food DrawingWhen you think of Canada, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? If you are like most people, you think about the ice and snow in the winter, large cities such as Vancouver or Toronto or perhaps the majestic Canadian Rockies. In any of those cases, you would be correct but if food doesn’t come to your mind, you are really missing something special. The fact of the matter is that Canadians are responsible for many culinary inventions and it offers a rather unique fare, if you take the time to look below the surface.

First of all, Canada covers a rather large area of land and water and the cuisine is going to be slightly different, or perhaps even completely different, depending upon where you happen to be standing. It can really be broken up into several different sections, each of which brings something rather unique to the table.

Pacific Northwest – This area of Canada, which stretches from Oregon and Washington up into Alaska, is well-known for its foods that contain an Asian flair. In addition, there are many Native American additions to the food that you will find in this part of the country.

Rocky Mountain – The food from the Rocky Mountain area is a convergence of many different types of cuisines, as much of it came from outside areas as the railways crossed the Rocky Mountains. In addition, mountain guides from around the world brought their own unique cuisines to the area and blended it with the native tribes.

Toronto – This culturally diverse area offers you almost any type of cuisine that you could possibly imagine. Regardless of whether you are looking for authentic Chinese food or something with a Caribbean flair, you will be able to find it in the Toronto area.

Quebec – The unique food from this part of the country tends to stem from the fur trading industry and includes many high fat, meaty foods with plenty of flavor. In addition, sap from the sugar maple flows freely at certain times of the year so you can always find a sweet snack that includes plenty of maple syrup.

Maritimes – Some rather unique dishes can be found in this eastern part of Canada which includes Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. You can enjoy anything from a seaweed dinner (dulse) to homemade potato chips and of course, plenty of maple syrup.

Anywhere you look in Canada, you will find unique culinary inventions that are a blend of the many cultures that visited the area. It offers some of the most delicious foods in the world and more than likely, you have had something on your dinner table that stems from Canada. So the next time you think about the country of Canada, make sure that the first thing that comes to your mind is food.

For the next couple of posts, I will be guiding you through our country’s unique cuisine.  There are certainly going to be a few surprises, and some reminders.  Hopefully, it will be “fruitful” (sorry) and entertaining.  I saw a notice which said 'drink canada dry' and I've just started.


Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Canada, Canadian, Entertainment, Food, Native


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May West and a Jos Louis

Vachon has treated us since 1932. From the beginning on a farm to its popularity now, they have come a long way. Maybe if you knew about their history, you might enjoy the taste better. Though really, its delicious whether you think of it or not.

Picture of box of Mae West

May West from Vachon

For those who may not be familiar with these tasty treats, a May West is a round dessert cake with cream filling.  A Jos Louis is a delicious sponge cake with vanilla-flavoured crème filling coated in a chocolatey layer.

The company that brought Canadians Jos Louis snack cakes and a variety of other tasty pastries was launched by a modest family with a dream, a bank loan, and hardworking children.

From its beginnings as a mom and pop bakery operated by Arcade and Rose-Anna in Quebec’s Beauce Region, Vachon Cakes evolved into a multi-million dollar business, which was referred to by one media commentator as a “treasured morsel of the province’s food industry heritage.”

In 1923, Arcade, 55, and his wife, who was 10 years his junior, left Sainte-Patrice de Beaurivage, Quebec, after spending 25 years as farmers there. The couple borrowed $7,000 and bought the Leblond Bakery in Sainte-Marie de Beauce, about 60 kilometres from Quebec City under the direction of Rose-Anna. They had 15 dollars in the bank at the time.

Their first employee was their son Redempteur, who made bread, and with his father crisscrossed the surrounding area in a buggy selling loaves for six cents apiece.

Always looking to increase sales, Rose-Anna diversified into other baked goods, including doughnuts, sweet buns, shortbread, cakes, pies, and even baked beans, which she made in her wood oven in her kitchen of the family home. Simone, one of two daughters, helped sell the tasty treats after school. In 1928, two of the Vachons’ six sons, Louis and Amedee, returned from the United States to help out. The business prospered when it began exporting to Quebec City.

By 1932, the company had 10 employees and introduced the Jos Louis, which soon became its most popular cake. By 1937, the ongoing company was peddling its products in Ontario and the Maritime.

On January 15, 1938, at age 70,  Joseph-Arcade Vachon passed away . His wife and sons kept the company running and moved to a shoe factory, where an 8,000-square-foot extension was constructed and modern production equipment installed. The family then decided to focus exclusively on snack cakes.  During the Second World War, Vachon supplies cakes to military bases in Vancouver (British Columbia), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Nanaimo (British Columbia) and even England.

In 1945, at age of 67, Rose-Anna retired and sold her interest in the company to her sons Joseph, Amedee, Paul and Benoit, who broadened the product line to 111 items. Rose-Anna died on December 2, 1948.

In 1961, with sales across most of Canada, the company changed its name to Vachon Inc.  A decade later they had 12,000 employees.  83 percent of Vachon shares were sold to Quebec banking co-op Movement des Caisses Populaire Desjardins, leaving 17 percent in the Vachon family’s hands.

Some snack lovers believe the Jos Louis is named after the legendary American boxer Joe Louis. In fact, the chocolate cake’s moniker is a combination of the names of two Vachon sons – Joseph and Louis.

Photo of a box of Jos Louis

Photo of a box of Jos Louis

The May West cake’s name was originally identical to that of the movie star that inspired it, but got changed in the 1980s to its current spelling. The original creme filling was custard, however it has since then been replaced by a shortening-based vanilla creme close in taste and texture to the filling found in Twinkies.

The Vachon home in Sainte-Marie de Beauce, Quebec, where Rosa-Anna did her bookkeeping and used her own recipes to bake breads and snack cakes, is now a historic museum.

To learn more about Vachon, I suggest visiting the Official Vachon History . There was also an interesting article in the Montreal Gazette about Rene Brousseau, the inventor of the May West snack cake..


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Today we celebrate Maple Syrup!

Did you know that December 17 is Maple Syrup Day?  How well do you know of this golden liquid? Allow me to present you with a few tidbits of information.

Picture of a bottle of maple syrup from Quebec, Canada

Bottle of maple syrup from Quebec, Canada.

  • Though it can vary depending on the weather, the sap is collected between February and April.
  • Quebec produces 91% of Canada’s pure maple syrup.  With Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, that makes up 71% of the world’s supply.  New York and New England states also produce a large measure of maple syrup.
  • There are more than 8,600 maple syrup businesses in Canada. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup (FPAQ) ensures the economic, social and ethical interests for the more than 7,400 maple businesses in Quebec.
  • Collecting sap from maple trees is regulated, in part, by the International Maple Syrup Institute (to promote the use of pure maple syrup and protect the integrity of the product).
  • The maple is the symbol depicted on Canada’s flag and is a state tree in New York and Vermont.
  • Most “maple flavoured” syrups contain corn syrup and has little or no maple syrup.
  • Maple Syrup has more calcium than milk (per unit volume) and more potassium than bananas (per weight volume).  It also has Manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron, not to mention vitamins.  Compared to processed white sugar, maple syrup can be a healthier sweetener. For more information about this, see the Maple Syrup Nutritional Information.
  • Choosing a tree to sap, it must be 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter, and it must be at least 40 years old.
  • The tree has a healing process called walling-off, which prevents the same hole from being used a second time.  However, a single tree can be tapped for more than a century.
  • Each mature tree can produce about 40 litres (10 gallons) of sap per season.
  • In order to create 1 litre of maple syrup, 40 litres of sap is needed.
  • Sap is 95% water.  The process for making maple syrup is to boil the sap at 4° Celsius (7 ° Fahrenheit).  After this stage it is about 66% sugar and is classified as sugar.  Pure maple syrup is sap that has been condensed further by evaporating the excess water.

There are many sites on the internet dedicated to maple syrup.  A few are Eat North which has a “10 things you didn’t know about maple syrup” page; the CBC Digital Archives which has a lot of videos and links; you can find a lot more at Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, including lists of maple syrup festivals; Coombs Family Farm has a nice collection of maple syrup recipes;

The National Post as an article, Maple syrup ‘fraud’ could be a thing of the past under new joint Canada-U.S. rules which is interesting. And if you remember, recently there was the $30 million theft of maple syrup – CBC News has a great article about it.


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Remembering a Hockey Legend

Earlier this week we lost a hockey legend, Jean Béliveau.  Can I introduce you to him?

He was born on August 31, 1931 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.  He died on December 2, 2014 at the age of 83, in Longueuil, Quebec.

Photo of Jean Béliveau

Hockey legend Jean Béliveau

He was a professional Canadian ice hockey player who played parts of 20 seasons with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Montreal Canadiens from 1950 to 1971. He began to play professionally in the Quebec Major Hockey League (QMHL). He made his NHL début with the Canadiens in 1950, but chose to stay in the QMHL full-time until 1953. By his second season in the NHL, Béliveau was among the top three scorers. He was the fourth player to score 500 goals and the second to score 1,000 points. Béliveau won two Hart Memorial Trophies (1956, 1964) and one Art Ross Memorial Trophy (1956), as well as the inaugural Conn Smythe Trophy (1965). As a player, he won the Stanley Cup 10 times, and as an executive he was part of another seven championship teams, the most Stanley Cup victories by an individual to date. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Nicknamed “Le Gros Bill” (The Big Bill), Béliveau ranks among the ten greatest NHL players.

Interestingly, Béliveau can trace his ancestry to Antoine Béliveau, who settled in 1642 in Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The Béliveaus were expelled along with the Acadians in 1755 and the family settled in the Boston area before moving to Québec to the Trois Rivières area in the mid-19th century.

He suffered from many ailments for decades now.  He’s suffered two strokes, and was diagnosed with cancer (he recovered after a punishing course of treatments).

Another defining moment in his life, Prime Minister Jean Chretien offered Béliveau the position of Governor General of Canada in 1994.  However, he declined the offer to be with his daughter, Hélène, and two grandchildren, Mylene and Magalie. Their father, a Quebec police officer, committed suicide when the girls were five and three.

Of many legacies he leaves behind, one of the greatest (I think) is the charitable Jean Béliveau Foundation, established in 1971. In 1993, Béliveau transferred the foundation to the Society for Disabled Children.

We have missed him on the ice and admired him for his steadfast vigour for living life to its fullest.  Thoughts and prayers for his family, friends and fans.


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