Sunday, August 30, 2009


Went to Malartic to visit Mike's sister-in-law Raymonde, newphew Steve and his wife Melanie. Mike's brother Roger passed away last January. Met Mike's childhood friend, Herve Denis, at Tim Horton's (of course!) and they reconnected.
Photo showing main street in Val D'Or looking towards Catholic Church. They still have angle parking on main street.
This is facing opposite direction and you can see the Chateux Louis, a favorite bar/hangout in Mike's youth. Even Barry remembers this landmark and frequented it while stationed in the Air Force during the sixties.
Drove to Vassan, a small rural farming community, and saw this church made from river rock. The church is always predominant in every town in Quebec.
Visited this picturesque wooden bridge in Vassan, built in 1941. Very charming...


We took a tour of "La Cite de L'Or" mine where Mike's father had worked for a few years before going to the Sullivan mine. The gold mine is still in operation and we were able to explore 300 feet underground and the surface buildings which transformed the gold. The mine was shut down in the eighties as gold went down to under $300 per ounce and it cost $250-$300 per ounce to mine it. Now that gold is over $1000 per ounce, it has brought renewed prosperity to Val D'Or and surrounding areas. New gold mines are opening and the mines are investing millions in the communities. We dressed in mining gear in the "drying room" where miner's gear where hung from the ceiling and would be soaking wet at the end of their work day. Here they were also required to strip and be inspected to check that you were not smuggling out gold. Mike said his father had related that someone had smuggled out gold by hiding it in a bar of soap, but the culprit was eventually caught.
Mike is standing by a "mucker" which would hold 5,000 lbs of crushed rock - it took average of 5,000 lbs to mine 1 ounce of gold. At 300 ft beneath the ground, mine shaft was cold and very damp. When our group of 6 turned off our headlamps, it was COMPLETE blackness.
Maureen drilling holes for the explosives, which were drawn on rock and done one square at a time and then rock removed via the muckers.
Explosives were inserted in numbered sequence so that the rock would implode.
On the surface, they showed gold being heated in ovens at 2000 degrees F to separate it and poured into cups.

Friday, August 28, 2009


We arrive in Mike's hometown and he and his brother Marcel try to wash off all the bugs that hit our truck and trailer - they stick like glue!

We had a great afternoon playing golf and I got 2 pars. The course was great for me, flat and open.

Our newphew Jacques and his family dropped by to visit - left to right are Claudine, Manon, Marcel, Carine, Jacques, Leonette, Marcel, Rosy (Leonette's mom). Leonette is totally spoiling Mike with all his favorite dishes - pudding au chomeurs. It is great to see everyone!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


We went to Barry's lakefront home and had a great dinner and evening visiting with his school friend Ray and his wife, Marg. Beautiful home and lake. Rudy was almost puppy-like chaseing the ducks - hard to believe he is 12 and, we thought, on his last legs before we started our trip.

Ray took us around the very large lake in his boat and after supper we all had a Finnish sauna and jumped in the lake. The lake is very cold, so the sauna was a necessity. Great time and Mike and I had to leave T-Bay early the next morning to travel to Val D'Or, while Barry and Lana got to enjoy more time there.


Visited Kakabeka Falls and imagined the French Canadian Voyageurs who travelled by canoe up the river and then had to pack everything on back around the falls. Their canoes could hold up to 4 tons and there were only 12 in the canoe - backbreaking!
Mike's french lumberjack heritage was helpful throwing axe at Fort William. The Fort was built to scale to recreate the North West Company's headquarters and was the hub of the fur trade where they were traded for goods. We met Scottish fur traders, French voyageurs, farmers and aboriginals and ate Scottish cakes grilled on the kitchen's open fire, they were all in costume and character when they spoke to you. We were very impressed with how authentic it was.
They traded for valuable fur pelts which were weighed and pressed into bundles to be shipped to Montreal.
Mike enjoyed the woodworking shop where canoes are made - he felt right at home. Our time ended when we went down to the river for a farewell to the Voyagers who left in their canoe to go trade for more furs. North West was the rival of Hudson's Bay Co. and was eventually taken over by them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


We past many lakes and forests of pines and birch. Marshy areas along the road had quite a bit of water in them as they have had a very wet summer. Enjoyed seeing huge fields of sunflowers. Arrived in Thunder Bay ("T-Bay") and saw the monument to Terry Fox who had to stop his cross country Marathon of Hope as the cancer that took his leg returned. Mike had stopped and talked to him near Moncton, NB, when Mike was in the Navy on a recruiting trip. So tragic that he died at only 23 but he has left a legacy of courage and inspiration we Canadians are very proud.
We saw the "Sleeping Giant" in Lake Superior which is the biggest of the great lakes. Legend is the Indian was turned into stone after telling where the silver mines could be found.
We stopped at "Bennett's Bakery" which was originally owned by Barry's Uncle Art and had a "Persian" which is a cinnamon fritter covered with raspberry icing. Delicious and world famous as everyone in the area will attest to.
T-Bay is the largest grain-handling port in the world and we were stopped by a security guard and told we could not leave the road due to security implemented after 9/11. Here all the trains bring their grain for shipment all over the world.
That evening we had a thunder and lightening storm - we loved it and we understand why this is called Thunder Bay as it echoes over Lake Superior.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ASSINIBOIA - August 21

We left Lana and Barry to visit my cousin Pat and husband Ralph in Assiniboia, a cute little Prairie town where people still leave their doors unlocked and the car keys in the ignition when they get out. Loved their new home which was built in 1972 and has great features from that time (beautiful mahoganey wood cabinets and doors) and Pat has wonderful taste in decorating. When we visited Pat in the home centre store she runs, you could see her touch everywhere in all the displays.

August 21st - We went to Lafleche to visit the cemetary where mom, her parents and brothers are buried. Along the way we passed signs to Mazenod, Palmer and Melaval - all names Mom would mention from her youth, usually heading there on a Saturday night to go to a dance. Went to see Uncle Dave's old house in Lafleche but the town is very small and looks like it is dying. Had lunch at the "Lefleche Cafe" where Mom and I had eaten with him 10 years ago. We still had a deluxe cheese burger with fries for $4.75 and it had a home made patty and fried onions for that price! Sad to say the old "Saskatchew Pool" elevators that used to dot the landscape were torn down, a piece of Canadiana is gone.

Teeing off at Pat and Ralph's golf club, we didn't have our best games but it was beautiful to play golf with wheat fields blowing in the background. We had a great visit with them, wish we could visit more often but had to continue our trek.

August 22 - Met up with the Bennett's in Indian Head and had lunch in a converted grain elevator that used treadle machines as table bases. That night we stayed at "Shady Oaks" in Sidney, Manitoba. It was a beautiful campsite set in an oak grove and run by Ewan Macleod, a delightful Scottsman. Great day ending with Pina Coladas and watching red squirrels run through the oak trees.


August 19th - said goodbye to Rose and Butch and thanked them for the gift of honey from hives on their property, they are great people and were very understanding when Mike accidentally set off their home alarm when he went to pet the cat. Drove past flat landscape dotted with small oil wells, starting seeing rolling hills around Medicine Hat where we stopped for a tailgate lunch. There were huge culumus clouds and we saw a herd of bison and also 3 cowboys on horses herding cattle. Love the wide open landscape ("you can see your dog running away from home for 3 days") and fields of golden wheat which resembled ocean waves as they were being blown by wind.
We were greeted by "Mac" the moose as we arrived in Moose Jaw (Cree word for "gentle breezes").August 20th - Took "Tunnel of Moose Jaw" tours: "Passage to Fortune" showed the hardships and of Chinese immigrants living underground in the tunnels in the early 1900's working as laborers doing laundry, sewing burlap sacks, kitchen work. They were horribly mistreated and had to work many years just to pay back a head tax to the Canadian government and broker's fees. The "Chicago Connection" relived Al Capone's secret bootlegging operation in Moose Jaw (which was referred to as "Little Chicago"). Big Al came up here when things got too hot in Chicago. Our guides "Fanny" the flapper and "Gus" the bootlegger made it a lot of fun. Mike somehow got called "Mr. Touchy" by Fanny.
Relaxed in the "Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort" which has a rooftop geothermal pool. These mineral waters are 42 degrees C and you could be inside or swim to the outside section which was even warmer - what a great afternoon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Back in Calgary and Butch, Rose, Bennetts and Leroux's went to Lana's favorite Chinese restaurant, Ho Won's - it has great Chinese food which is quite different. Then walked the downtown area and along Stephen Street which during the day is pedestrian only. Many skyscrapers all very interesting and different architecturally and of course the Calgary Tower. Much new building happening and current construction of a 58 story building which will be the highest. Calgary is very clean and pretty with a beautiful riverside park and walking area. We had another thunder shower, they come up very quick and are intense but do not last long. Weather changes here very fast.

Monday, August 17, 2009


August 16th - Mike and I left Lana and Barry to visit their family in Calgary and went to Edmonton to visit my niece Tanya and her family. Stopped in Drumheller and went to the Royal Tyrell Museum of palentology which has amazing displays over over 40 dinosaur skeletons and thousands of fossil specimens.Especially liked the fish tanks that had living specimens of fish that were around in prehistoric times. We then drove part of the Hoodoo Trail and saw the eerie landscape of the Alberta badlands These large strange sandstone formations are called hoodoos and look mushroom-like.

Since it had rained the day before the mud was very slippery as the mud is almost silky. But it was worth walking up the trails to get photos of these amazing rock formations.
Very pretty drive up to Edmonton and passed huge canolla fields of bright yellow. We arrived at Tanya's and Mike's at 6 p.m. and all the family was there as Jan and Gary, Robin, Gary, Brandon and Jacob were also visiting from Victoria.
Their new home is fabulous and has been transformed into the "Hotel Sim" for the next few weeks. Had a wonderful BBQ and sat around late laughing at stories (Tanya's floods, Robin's lack of pets and of course the kids making fun of us old folks).
August 17th - up early and us gals hit the discount stores. "White Lightening" almost needed an extra trunk for her purchases but we told her husband that some of the purchases were ours. Next stop was West Edmonton Mall and we met up with the guys. They got to pick where we had lunch and, surprise, we ended up at Hooters. 15 year old Brandon was in Hooters Heaven especially when he got to have his pic with our waitress who was very nice. Even the 7 year old boys were happy and their eyes where as big a saucers at all the pretty waitresses.
We enjoyed watching the water and amusement parks and the fire-breathing dragon at the Scotia Bank theatre. Tired of shopping and glad to be back at Tanya's for another great dinner and evening. Tomorrow we head back to Calgary to met up with Lana and Barry and continue on our travels.


Left home on August 13th and caught the Celebration Ferry - very large and fancy. Rainy weather going through to Hope (isn't it always). Felt sorry for Ian Malcolm who we met on the ferry as he and a buddy were on motorcycles heading to Penticton. Saw a very large black bear walking in the river beside the highway and a small herd of mountain sheep.

First night stayed in Sicamoose at KOA and it was very cold and rained most the night. Arrived at Rose and Butch's place (Lana's sister) and was greeted with a wonderful chicken dinner. They have an amazing 10 acre property and their home is filled with beautiful antiques and collectibles. They have many restored antique cars that fill up their garages and trailers. They also have vintage clothing they wear when driving the vehicles. Rose is restoring an original beaded flapper dress which will take hundreds of hours. Great time but it is ccccccold.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Mike and I have retired and will be leaving soon on our big trip across Canada and through the United States. We will be travelling with our friends Barry and Lana and look forward to great times, going to many sites and seeing wonderful scenery. We will be leaving soon and this will be a way to journal our trip and share it with our family and friends. Hope to keep in touch with you through this and let you know where we are and what we are up to!