Shooting the Rapids by Frances Anne Hopkins 1838-1919
In 1802, Terrebonne came into the possession of Simon McTavish, a Scot and principal partner of the North West Company, which competed with the Hudson's Bay Company. McTavish transformed l’Île-des-Moulins into a supply post for fur traders known as voyageurs, who navigated trade routes in canoes between 1690 and 1850.
The work of the voyageurs began in the spring with a gathering in Montreal to prepare the goods they would be carrying, at least 90 pounds’ worth each. Once the canoes had been packed, the men set off from Lachine, stopping briefly in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue for religious services. For 6 to 8 weeks, the voyageurs canoed and portaged their way to distant fur posts in a network that spanned 5,000 km. They rose well before dawn, stopping for breakfast only at about 8 o’clock. Each hour of the journey was marked with a smoke break, a practice which became so common that distances were measured according to the number of pipes taken along the route.
At night, the voyageurs slept under the stars, protected from wind and rain by tarps and overturned canoes. While they rested, a kettle filled with peas, water, and a few strips of pork simmered over a fire until dawn when the cook added “biscuits.” These biscuits were prepared by bakeries like the one established by Simon McTavish on l’Île-des-Moulins. Made from a mixture of flour, water, salt, and grease, they were twice baked in order to preserve them. To render them edible again, the voyageurs hung this staple in satchels made of flax that dragged in the water alongside their canoes.
As for the beaches down below, they live up to their reputation, although if you are seeking the wild vistas associated with much of the British and Scottish coastline, this may not be your first choice. St. Ives assembles ocean lovers in droves, along with all their paraphernalia: bikinis, buckets, and beach chairs. It also retains the Victorian provision of changing cabins, lined up in neat, well-maintained rows.
A day at the beach isn’t complete without a taste of Cornish ice cream made from clotted cream. The distinctive dark yellow colour and flavour is unforgettable, especially if accompanied by the traditional 99 Flake chocolate stick. If you’re too peckish for sweets, you might prefer a pasty from S.H. Ferrell & Son, or some fish and chips, washed down with a glass of ale from a local pub.
On Commercial Street, which runs the length of Provincetown, you’ll find the typical selection of seaside holiday shops that still have the capacity to delight generations with their shell collections, whimsical toys, and other treasures. And just try resisting the temptation to order a fried fish sandwich with an old school soda pop from one of the diners on the boardwalk.
The area is also sanctuary to wildlife, and much of the Cape is best observed on foot or on a bicycle, which can be rented in town. There are miles and miles of marshes and beaches that can be quietly explored for hours. Everyone seems at home here, and it isn’t uncommon to find both humans and gulls playing in water pools beyond the dunes. And everywhere you go, the salty sea air follows.
The author is an artist, writer, and instructional designer with an overactive imagination and too little time. Ceci en est un exemple...
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