Ile d’Orleans, Quebec Part 3 of 3

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The B&B where we stayed – called Dans les Bras de Morphee which translates to “In the Arms of Morpheus” Morpheus was the Roman god of sleep.

In the middle of the mighty St. Lawrence River, but within sight of Quebec City, sits Île d’Orléans, an entire island that is a designated historical district. The traditional Quebec countryside is preserved here in this, the cradle of New France. Visitors can delight in the island’s plentiful (and flavourful) agricultural heritage nestled amid gorgeous scenery.” (Tourism Ile Orleans)

Although the above excerpt is true about the island during summer, I suspect that that living on Ile D’Orleans is not for the faint of heart in winter. Our B&B hostess recounted stories of being “marooned” on the island during heavy snowstorms for several days because the bridge to the mainland could not be crossed. In the winter of 2016,  the snowdrifts behind the main house were 17 feet high! But we were there in late summer so let’s talk about then.

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The view from the B&B on a cloudy day overlooking the river.

Although the days were often cloudy, the temperatures were very warm. The greenery was lush and the fields throughout the island were prolific with grapes for wine, vegetables and fruits of all the kinds. The strawberries were especially wonderful and apparently can be harvested from spring until the first frost. Add maple syrup, cheeses and diary products to that list and it’s no wonder that the island is known as the “Jardin de Quebec” (Garden Of Quebec). If you’re a foodie, you’ll love this place.

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Old fashioned hollyhocks grow nestled next to a 19th century stone cottage.

 

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There are only two buildings on the island that can claim to be as old as they look. One of these is La Maison Drouin.  Built in 1730 and lived in until 1984, this authentic home offers a glimpse into the lives of the Canac-Marquis and Drouin families who lived there. The rustic interior of the home reminds us to be thankful for all the conveniences we enjoy today, although I have to admit that all the basics were available to the original owners.

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These three images show the location of the original home of Horatio Walker. Who was Horatio Walker and why would you care where he lived? Walker was an artist whose paintings of habitant life in rural Quebec rivalled the great masters, such as Rembrandt, for prices on the art market during the 19th century. Today he is relatively unknown to most Canadians although his paintings still fetch over a million dollars at auction.
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The owners of the B&B “Dans Les Bras de Morphee” are indicative of the entrepreneurial spirit of the people who live on the island. Apart from running a very successful B&B and serving 3 or 4 course breakfasts, (yes, breakfasts) they also maintain their beautiful property, plant and harvest their large garden and fruit trees, keep goats and 1 sheep, have ducks in their large natural pond, and produce honey from their honeybees. Every year they move their bees from their place to farms around the island – rather like a “Pollinators Are Us” kind of business. Next year they plan to begin producing maple syrup. I’m tired just writing this down – I don’t know how they do it!
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This goat had a lot to say. He kept pushing the others away, probably hoping that I might have a treat for him.

The island is broken up into four communities or parishes and each has its own church! Some of the smaller, older churches have been decommissioned and now act as locations for  the community’s artists and crafters to sell their wares. Because these goods are sold on a not-for-profit basis, no tax is charged –  a significant savings of at least 15%.
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This cottage was partly hidden off the road.

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Part of the streetscape as you drive along the outer ring of the island.

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I love the architecture on this island. Although this home is painted in soft grey tones, others are painted in bright Quebecois colours.

Mt sister and I have a special connection to this island given that our ancestors were one of the 300 founding families of the region in the mid 1600’s. Although the original house was torn down about 50 years ago, there is ample indication of the family’s presence in the names of roads, signage and memorial plaques throughout the island. Thanks to the “Maison de nos Aïeux”, an old rectory turned museum and archives center, we were able to learn where our ancestor’s home was located and to stand on the very land he owned!
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This is the last part of my trip to Quebec. For Canadians, it’s important to go there, not only to enjoy the fabulous food and scenery but also to remember how much a part of our country’s history is tied up in this province.

Next? Another “Instant Antique Expert” blog. Join me then.

 

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