Previous Page | Index | Next Page

part I ..... CABANO

Still in the evening of Day Five in 2011, we have left Trois Pistoles all on our own, leaving behind those who came with us in 2015 who are now safely lodged in a motel on the edge of town.

We're looking for a place to doss down and I seem to remember from my visit here in 2001 that there's a huge lake some way south of here at a town called Cabano. That seems to be a good bet to find a quiet car park.

This involves a trip down Highway 239, a road which is undergoing quite considerable repair and so it's just like the Trans-Labrador Highway on a good day. Didn't this bring back many happy memories for me?

Further along, there's another road that follows the lakeshore and all around here was what I thought at first might have been a scattering of snow reminiscent of the time in 2002 when I was up in the Stunner Pass in the Rockies. Further investigation by the way revealed it to be a type of flower.

This road curves away from the lakeshore but there's a dirt road that looks as if it might be going somewhere down there. That's worth an exploration but in fact it disintegrates rapidly into the kind of road that would not be out of place in Upper Labrador.

It's also lined with houses of a most expensive kind and they certainly wouldn't want someone like me dossing down anywhere near where they live. I thus abandon the exercise and head into the town centre to see what might be around there.

But considering just how much money the residents must have paid to buy their houses, I'm not sure how they cope with this kind of road. I'd want to have something done with it.

I drove through the town of Cabano that night, up and down every road that I could find, looking for somewhere suitable to park, and ended up on a supermarket car park on the south side of town, such is fate.

And the weather turned as well, and I hope that this isn't a foretaste of things to come. I spent most of the night freezing cold and dying for a gypsy's, and when I did finally manage to doze off I was awoken by a text message at 5:09 precisely.


metro supermarket cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

This is the view that greeted me when I woke up this morning. Glorious surroundings as you can see, with a pulp mill on one side of the Dodge and a shopping mall on the other side. Isn't this just Canada?

And why is shopping in North America so boring? Quite simply that when you have seen one bunch of shops you've seen a mall.

I'll get my coat

tim horton cascade mill cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

Here's the view of the other side with the pulp mill smoking away in the distance. It might be a mill called the Cascade Mill. I hear that they have a big place here. And the building on the right? You ought to recognise the style right now of course. It's a Tim Horton's coffee shop.

A Tim Horton's without a disabled toilet as such as well, but there was a small washroom where a person can lock himself in alone, and so I had a really good 5-minute strip-down wash in hot water, and didn't that make me feel just so much better?

Well, at least for a while it did anyway. And in keeping in with my aim of being fair to everyone who helps me out on my travels I bought a coffee there instead of brewing up in the Dodge.

But that girl who served me - she was gorgeous and I would happily take her home with me in my suitcase. She would probably fit in there as well. Petite was hardly the word.

vegan cheese metro supermarket cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

Next stop was the supermarket to stock up on salad stuff and to buy bread. And why does anyone think that I will be doing everything that I can to find other Metro supermarkets in which to do my shopping?

This is a fantastic discovery, isn't it? A cheese that I can actually eat, and in individually-wrapped slices too which makes making butties at the side of the road so much easier. I'm really impressed with this.

And indeed I was too. It is easily the nicest-tasting "artificial cheese" that I have ever tasted and at the end of my voyage I bought a pile of packets to take home with me.

traffic light cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

One of the purposes of coming here last night was to have a good look around the town, and so here I am in Cabano. Well, sort-of anyway. I'm actually standing behind the camera, not in front of it.

You'll notice just the the left of centre one of the typical Canadian traffic lights hovering over the centre of the road. There's a stop sign too. How it works is that you approach the stop sign and stop, and if there is anyone who has stopped at another stop sign at the junction before you came to a stop, you let them have the priority to proceed.

I've also noticed with this kind of traffic light that, particularly late at night and particularly in the USA, they will be flashing orange in one direction and flashing red in the perpendicular direction. What this seems to mean (and I will stand being corrected on this point, so if you know different) is that the traffic with the orange light flashing for them may cross the junction with priority, having exercised due caution, and traffic with the red light flashing for them must give way if there is any traffic crossing their path.

street scene cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

That's the shot from the reverse angle of the above photograph, looking back up the hill in the direction from which I have just travelled.

It all looks so typically Eastern-North-American, doesn't it? Nothing to distinguish it from somewhere across the border in the USA. But that's not due to any cultural similarity, although there is a considerable amount of that here. The frontier between the USA and Canada in this part of the world is pretty much an artificial line drawn on a map to divide one essentially-homogenous British colony, don't forget (but don't let any Québecois extremists hear you say that).

What causes the similarity between the house designs is nothing more complicated than the use of local materials, vernacular construction skills and the ephemeral nature of the accommodation.

When people came to settle these areas, they generally built their own houses with whatever construction skills they might have had, which in many cases were very basic. There was no facility to transport stone but there was plenty of wood that they needed to clear in order to make a building plot. The fairly-common risk of being burnt out by in a native uprising, a cross-border raid or in a town fire did not encourage them to invest heavily in their buildings. And in many cases, the settlers did not have much to invest.

And there was no mistake about the ephemeral nature of the buildings either. Even as recently as 9th May 1950 there was a conflagration here that took half the town. One of the pulp mills burnt down in 1966 and in 1972 it was the turn of the church to vanish in the flames

street scene cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

It's only once the situation stabilised and prosperity came to the area that a more-stylish approach to building took place, but then again it's hardly spectacular, is it? "Functional" is a much better word.

Having said that, however, there were better viewpoints than this, but I seemed to have arrived on a bad day as there are high-sided vehicles everywhere blocking the decent views. Just my luck!

And while I was musing on this, an S-type Jag has just driven past me. I think that this is the first one that I have seen in Canada on this voyage.

These two houses here in Cabano caught my eye because this is something similar to how I'm going to build my house in New Brunswick.

traditional houses cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

The first one is built in the style of overlapping clinker-build and the second one is tongue-and-grooving. While I'm not usually convinced by tongue-and-grooving as a long-term prospect, the tongue seems to be about an inch long and goes into the groove about half-an-inch.

But closer inspection reveals that it isn't tongue-and-grooving at all but panels or sheets, with five strips of wood to the block. I'm not convinced by that at all. I think that if you are going for tongue-and-grooving then you go for tongue-and-grooving. But I shall be going for a clinker-built property.

abandoned railway line cycle path cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

While I was wandering around the town I had been following what looks like a cycle path. And cycle path it may be but it doesn't take much, such as looking at the curves and gradients, to work out that what this surely must be is an abandoned railway line.

And I reckon that I'm right as well. I had a glance at a street map of the town and one of the streets that runs down to the cycle path is called "Rue de la Gare" - Station Street.

It's part of the old Témiscouata Railway that ran between Edmundston and Rivière du Loup that came into existence in the late 1880s and struggled along, receiving much government assistance along the way, until it was taken over by the Canadian National in 1950.

Most of its trade was freight, with timber and pulp being the chief products transported, but as more and more clients left the railways for the road, the line was abandoned in the mid-1980s

Still, at least having a cycle path is one way of maintaining the track bed, for I have a feeling that before we are much older, we here in the west are going to be regretting the passing of the railways. There are abundant supplies of renewable electricity here in Eastern Canada. How much fossil fuel will be saved by taking all of the heavy freight off the roads and putting it on the rails?

Mind you, people have been saying that I've been going off the rails for years.

car park cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

Now I wish that I had seen this place last night when I arrived. It seems to be some kind of park right in the town itself. This would have been a good place to hole up for the night instead of on that windswept car-park on the edge of town.

But then again I doubt very much if the citizens would want someone like me dossing down just anywhere where I might pollute the atmosphere. Car parks on the edge of town are pretty anonymous.

I haven't finished yet with the town of Cabano. There are one or two other interesting things to see and to photograph here.

cadillac concours cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

Mind you, there must be something seriously wrong with me if I'm taking photos of cars from the 1990s and calling them classic cars or historic cars. I mean, even I own several cars that are much older than this.

But that's a sad sign of how much of their heritage countries - even the USA and Canada - are legislating out these days. Cars from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s coming for a day out on a Sunday is very much a thing of the past, due to all kinds of excuses.

There's this ruthless policy of clearing old and historic cars from the countryside and into the crusher, and it's even reached over here in North America. An old car in a field near Rachel's that I used to see quite regularly disappeared into the crusher overnight without a word.

cadillac concours cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

Anyway, enough of me ranting. Let's return to the car. This is a Cadillac Concours which is one of the seventh generation of the Cadillac "de ville" saloon cars, or sedans, and what I find so interesting is that rather than it being avant-garde in its design, which you might expect with an American-designed car, it has something rather retro about its styling, a trait that Chrysler subsequently exploited to the full.

At first glance, across a crowded car park, I took it for something of the late 1970s, but whatever you might think about it, it has so much more style and class than any contemporary vehicle (except maybe my favourite American car, the Chrysler 300) and it can knock spots of anything any European manufacturer was churning out in that period.

cabano lac temiscouata lake  quebec canada september septembre 2011

And I still haven't finished with Cabano. As I said last night, one of the reasons for being here was to see the big lake, Lake Temiscouata, on the shore of which the town is built.

And it would have been nice to have seen it in the nice weather such as we had yesterday on the north bank of the St Lawrence, but you can't have everything, I suppose. It's teeming down with rain right now and that's getting on my nerves. Just my luck, I suppose.

cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

But even in bad weather some places can look quite nice, and I suppose that Cabano is one of those, as seen from the lakeshore. And so it should really, because it's the lake that is the key to the importance of the settlement.

Long before there were roads here, the traditional way of moving about was by the rivers, and the Saint John River was, if you like, the equivalent of the M1 in the UK or I40 in the USA. The way to travel in eastern Canada was in a canoe via the Saint John and its many tributaries.

As an aside, did you know that it's against the law to light a fire in a canoe?
After all, you can't have your kayak and heat it.

expensive housing lakeshore cabano quebec canada september septembre 2011

Remember me telling you about last night and that dirt track with all of those posh houses along it? Well, that was over there, on the north shore of the lake.

While you are looking at that view, let me return to my little story about the Saint John and its role as eastern Canada's main highway. If you wanted to travel to the St Lawrence you couldn't go all the way by river as there is a range of mountains in the way.

When you reach the headwaters of the St John you need to take your canoe out of the water and carry it across the mountain range, hopping by a series of lakes on the way, until you reach the headwaters of the river that flows down into the St Lawrence.

The places where you take your canoe out of the water are called portages from the French word porter - "to carry" and the site of Cabano was one of the portages on this overland route.

"Site of Cabano?" I hear you say, and indeed, yes, that was what I said. In fact the municipality of Cabano dates from as recently as the latter days of the 19th Century, although there was some kind of habitation here prior to that date.

In fact the origins of European settlement around here date back to 1683 when Sieur Charles-Aubert de la Chenaye was granted the concession of this area.

And exactly 100 years later, the first highway - if you can call it that - between the St Lawrence and the Témiscouata was opened. This was called even in those days the Vieux Chemin - the "Old Road" - which presumably implies that there is a "New Road" somewhere in the vicinity.

For nearly half a century things trundled on quietly around here but then in the late 1820s we had the arrival of the first water mill, the first flour mill, the first sawmill and, evidently, the first colonists. After all, you can't have mills without people to work in them

After this, things started to heat up. This quiet backwater with its four families of colonists was suddenly pitched headlong into the front line of a border dispute between the Americans and Canadians.

No-one had previously bothered about where the international boundary might be up here because there was no-one up here to be affected by it but as colonialism advanced into the previously-uncharted border areas of North America, a head-on collision was sooner-or-later inevitable.

And so it came to pass.

The British sent a squad of soldiers, under a Lieutenant Lennox Ingall, to the area in 1839 in order to protect their interests and they built a fort - Fort Ingall - here but in 1842 the Treaty of Ashburton peacefully settled the location of the permanent border and the troops withdrew.

The Québec government celebrated by paving the highway, and this encouraged more and more settlers to install themselves here. More and more industry - mainly lumber interests - followed and the railway came in 1889.

Other important dates include the establishment of the municipal zone of Cabano in 1898 followed by the construction, beginning in 1901, of a church and the creation of the parish of St Mathias in 1907, which merged with the town in 1969.

cabano lac temiscouata lake quebec canada september septembre 2011

Continuing our panoramic view of Lake Temiscouata, this is the view southwards in the general direction of New Brunswick. How about this for a grey, miserable, depressing photograph?

But it's not all doom and gloom as you might think from looking at this photo. Just in case you are interested, which I'm sure that you are, Cabano's claim to fame is that the world record for deep diving under ice was set here in the lake in 1996. By one Eric Charrier, from Corsica.

You'll be delighted to know that, of course. I know that I was.

cabano lac temiscouata lake quebec canada september septembre 2011

In the summer - or when the sun is shining even - it must be really nice here and I wish that I had seen it on a better day.

A clue about this can be garnered from the fact that we have a little harbour here and that it's packed with all kinds of different pleasure craft. The little lighthouse looks quite twee, doesn't it?

Somehow the pulp works seems to detract a little from the scenery, although in this weather you might not have noticed. But I don't suppose you can have everything, can you?

carre frazer cabano lac temiscouata lake dodge grand caravan quebec canada september septembre 2011

That's where I was standing when I took the photos of Lake Temiscouata - out there on the end of that jetty. You can see the Dodge in the car park and how about that for an overnight parking place? I would have been quite happy there.

But where I'm standing is in a street called, would you believe, Carré Frazer. From that, I deduce that it was called Frazer Square back in the good old days and in the wave of Francophonisation of everything Anglophone in Qué bec, it's been translated.

Carré is the translation of "square", but not this kind of square. It's the translation of the kind of square that you find in geometry. The correct French word for this kind of square is Place and so the correct name of the locality should be Place Frazer. It's this kind of bad bilingualism (or monolingualism here in Québec) that brings the whole thing into disrepute.

Having said that, it's not as bad as what happened in my Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. When they built a new superstore down in the south near Swansea and they started to erect bilingual signs there, they realised that they didn't have a Welsh language translation for "no entry for heavy goods vehicles". Accordingly, they sent a mail to someone at the Welsh Language Society - the Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg.

They received a very helpful reply by return (which ought to have given them a clue) which said - in Welsh - "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated", so guess what they put on the sign as the translation of their phrase!

And just in case you don't believe me .......

back to top

next page



**** NEW ****


AND ...


page last modified 19:58 - 29th October 2016
site last modified