Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Into the St. Lawrence Sea Way: Whales and Old Quebec

The North Shore of the St. Lawrence Sea Way

9:00 pm Wed Aug 24, 2011

After 2 days of sailing around Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, we passed through the Gulf of St. Lawrence and into the St. Lawrence Sea Way – and once again saw land!  The waters got calmer and calmer as we made our way upriver and to the southwest, and the shores on both sides began to get closer.  A highlight of the morning was seeing our first whales!  Or, actually, we saw several whale spouts, but we weren’t close enough to see the whales.  But the whale spouts were a thrill, and made me more determined to finally read Moby Dick on this voyage.

Village and Farms northeast of Quebec City along the St. Lawrence Sea Way
Pat reading along the St. Lawrence
As we made our way closer to Quebec City, the thick forests on the shores of the St. Lawrence began to give way to pastoral green farms and small villages with tall church steeples.  The air also began to warm noticeably, from the chilly ocean temperatures we had experienced since leaving Boston, to much warmer, almost muggy air again.  It was thrilling to first see land again on the horizon, and then to see the horizon get progressively closer as the St. Lawrence Sea Way began to narrow into the St. Lawrence River.

The Forum on Global Engagement with its focus on U.S. – China relations came to a close this afternoon with a talk by former Ambassador to China, Stapleton Roy.  It was a fascinating assessment of the current state of U.S.—China relations, and the prospects for how this relationship will change as China continues to emerge as a global and economic power.  Ambassador Roy grew up in China and experienced both World War II and the 1949 Communist Revolution in China as a youth; he also was instrumental in normalizing relations between the U.S. and China in the 1970s, so his experience is long and his perspective shaped by many decades.  It has been a fascinating Forum to prepare us for the trip and our time in China, and is especially helpful to me as I prepare to teach my class on Globalization.

Chateau Frontenac Hotel, Quebec

The second highlight of the day was sailing past Quebec City at dusk.  We had been told that we would pass by Quebec some time around midnight, which had been disappointing as we were all eager to see this famous city perched on steep cliffs where the St. Lawrence narrows into a river.  But our itinerary moved more quickly, and instead we rounded a bend in the river to see the city in the distance around 7:00 pm, and enjoyed about 30 minutes of views just at dusk as the city lights came on and we glided by.  The famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel is especially impressive from the water, and one gets a sense of why this was such a strategic place for the French in their colonization of Quebec.  

Old Quebec as Dusk from the St. Lawrence River

It brought back wonderful memories for me of visiting Quebec with my parents in the early 90s when we had ventured up from New York while I completed my graduate studies at Union Seminary in New York.
Railroad Bridge over St. Lawrence, Quebec City

By morning we should be in Montreal!!  We have a full half-day of orientation activities, and then early afternoon Pat and I will move into our “permanent” cabin.  The students will be boarding on Friday morning, so we should have a chance to visit Old Montreal Thursday afternoon and perhaps again Friday morning before we set sail Friday afternoon to cross the North Atlantic.  Hard to believe that in 3 days I’ll start teaching my 3 classes with a whole new set of students!  This orientation period has been so nice to try to get the rhythm of the ship before we plunge fully into the program – but that will change shortly.  And in a week we’ll be in Morocco!  Stay tuned…

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful pix of Quebec! I am so glad you arrived there early. Ambassador Roy sounds wonderful - a lifetime of wisdom to share. Moving probably won't be great but I home your cabin is. Have a good time in Montreal. Jean