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part II ..... ST LOUIS DU HA! HA!
honestly - I am not making this up

Those of you with long memories will remember (because I've told you often anough) that that I've been to this part of Canada before. In those days I was on just page one of the rubbish that I churn out - on this trip I've followed more-or-less the same route and I'm on page 20 and counting. You can see what a university education does for you, can't you?

Anyway, as I was saying, back in those days I made some kind of fatuous remark about a town called St Louis du Ha! Ha! - complete with exclamation marks - but I didn't have time to go for a visit back then. Things are different this time, and a town with a name like that just cries out to be visited, doesn't it?

georges gauvin church st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

And so here we are, and I'll find something with the name of the town inscribed thereupon and take a photograph of it, don't you worry. You need to know that it does exist.

The focal point of the town is the immense church. 1907 the church, by the way, judging by the look of a memorial stone. There's a school here, so I noticed, that is named after Georges Gauvin and I happened to notice that he was the curé of the church and oversaw the raising of the monument to the First World War.

georges gauvin church st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

I suppose that the building of the church, the naming of the school - this might give a clue as to the date that the community might have been founded. a similar kind of date to Cabano that we visitied earlier.

Seeing a church of this size in a community like this makes me wonder about the resources that were diverted into building it. It's the some with many of the churches that I've noticed in these small communities here in Québec.

They aren't exactly rich and while the spiritual needs of the inhabitants are all very well and good, the temporal needs are pretty important as well.

church st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

What in heaven's name (if you'll excuse me for saying so) are they doing with a security guard on the door of the church? What's this all about?

It does rather bring to mind the story of the priest of a parish church who accosts one of his parishioners in the street
"You weren't in church last Sunday, were you?"
"I was there the Sunday before" retorted the parishioner indignantly. "Don't you remember? I took the collection".
"Ohh yes" replied the priest. "I remember very well. And now I want you to come to church next Sunday and bring it back!"
Perhaps there have been "issues" here about the taking of the collection. Who knows?

view appalachian mountains st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

It was clearly a good decision to come up here because the view is certainly impressive, even on a day like this.

What you need to remember is that we are actually in the Appalachian Mountains. These stretch all the way from deep in the USA all the way to the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula where I was last year and one day I'll find the time to write up my notes about it.

st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

Ahh yes - here you are. I knew that I would find something with the name of the town written on it and I wasn't wrong. It really does exist.

Written in French of course but what do you expect? We are still in Québec. And if you didn't know already, which maybe some of you don't, in Québec and parts of New Brunswick, especially around the town of Edmundston and out by Dalhousie, French - or at least, a language that bears a very close resemblance to it - is spoken.

st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

One thing that took me by surprise was the hordes of people in the town. I don't think that I've ever seen so many people congregating in a rural township in Canada quite like this.

There's clearly something going on and it has to be worth checking out in a place like this. I decide to follow the madding crowd. It might be a tractor pull. You never know - it might be my lucky day.

st louis du ha ha 39th annual tournament fire Brigades East quebec canada september septembre 2011

A - ha (and not "Ha! Ha!" either). Not a tractor pull, but something equally as exciting. At least, for Yours Truly. It's the weekend of the 39th annual tournament of the Fire Brigades of East Quebec. So there you are!

There's all kinds of excitement happening here this weekend. it seems that yesterday they had all of the sporting activity and games, and today it's a question of who has the prettiest fire engine.

Right on!

st louis du ha ha 39th annual tournament fire Brigades East quebec canada september septembre 2011

It would have been nice to have been here yesterday and see what kind of sporting activities they have out here in (far -) Eastern Québec. I've heard all kinds of stories ...

But it isn't cold enough (although you might not think it) for the Canadian Biathlon, that's for sure. That's where the competitors go skating across the ice of a frozen river and stop every 200 metres to club a seal pup to death.

I did notice that most of these fire engines are diesel-powered and so I was wondering what they do about the fuel freezing in winter. There was no-one around to ask so if I do manage to see a fireman I'll grab hold of him and ask him. The most stupid question is the one that is never asked and I've always found that if you really want to know the answer to a question, you need to loose your inhibitions and ask the question.

crowds church louis du ha ha 39th annual tournament fire Brigades East quebec canada september septembre 2011

If you are wondering what the noise might be, it's the sound of me eating humble pie. I take back all of those earlier comments about security guards on the church door. Its wasn't a security guard at all but a fireman and it seems that they are all in there having their banners blessed ready for the prettiest fire engine competition.

Obviously praying for divine intervention is the thing to do and all I can say is that in this kind of weather it's quite possible that there will be a few flashes of lightning floating around on behalf of those who have prayed hard enough, to eliminate some of the competition.

I managed to buttonhole a fireman and I asked the question - how do they stop the diesel freezing up in the winter.

The reply was that there is already stuff in it that stops it freezing in normal conditions - to about -20°C ... "is that 'normal conditions'?" - ed ..., but if it gets cold, so he says, (as if -20°C isn't cold enough) you can buy an additive made from wood alcohol - most auto accessory places sell it.

So now I know. Caliburn is getting closer and closer to Canada at every step.

st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

And so here are a few photos of the place, and while you look around, I can tell you a little about the place. Only a little, of course, because there doesn't seem to be much information about it.

Of course, the first thing that you are all dying to know about is the name and how it arose. Well, here, you have a couple of choices.

  1. A ha!-ha! in English is a sunken hedge and you'll see these at English stately homes. They'll dig a deep trench and put a hedge in the trench so that the boundary would be marked and as long as they kep the hedge cur to below the level of the top of the trench, it wouldn't interrupt the view.
    I'm not sure that this is of any relevance here however
  2. A ha!-ha! in literary or old French is a dead-end - an impasse.
    But from up here on this ridge you could go in any direction that you liked, so I'm not sure about that either.
  3. Ha!-ha! is said to be a exclamation or corruption of the word hexcuewaska - "something unexpected" in the local native language - and uttered when a native American saw Lake Temiscouata for the first time from a nearby hilltop.
    But again, surely if it were a local native American (using the local native language), he wouldn't have found the view to be something unexpected - he would have known about it already.
    Particularly if he had been selected to guide a party of early Francophone visitors around the area, for the name of the place would have been given by the Francophone visitors of course, St Louis being King Louis IX of France, although some bring three other people called Louis into the equation.

st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

So there you are - three equally unlikely explanations and you can take your choice.

But apart from that, there was a chemin du portage - a track between two watercourse - here, where people would have to carry there canoes. This was known as early as the time of Champlain, and was to form part of a link between the St Lawrence and the French possessions in Arcadie.

So important was this route that in 1793 it was surfaced - not an everyday occurrence in those days.

st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

Colonists arrived in the middle of the 19th Century and a Catholic Mission was set up here in 1860. The settlement became a parish in 1873 and the following year, a municipality.

The principal activities in those days were the traditional ones connected with agriculture and timber, but in more recent times, there has been something of a divergence into more-tourist-orientated activities.

Such as, one supposes, the 39th Annual Tournament of the Fire Brigades of East Quebec.

But I can't get over the excitement of all of this. I don't half stumble across some things going on in Canada when I'm on my travels.

I'm not going to be at all surprised if I find myself at a tractor pull later on this afternoon ... "that was in 2013" - ed.

dirt road st louis du ha ha quebec canada september septembre 2011

As I said, there's a variety of ways of leaving the town and a gorgeous dirt road has to be the way to go. It's just like Labrador again isn't it?

And I've discovered a design fault in this Dodge as well. If you have the window partially open in the rain, such as when you are poking a camera out to take a photo, the rain runs around the inside of the top window seal and pours down into the door pocket of the car, wetting all of your paperwork and it makes a mess.

GRRRRR again!

And those things that I thought were patches of snow and which I got out earlier to photograph and then became sidetracked and so forgot to photograph them - they aren't patches of snow at all but seem to be a kind of whitish grey flower growing wild in the ditches

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