00:01 - 01:02
In this summer of 1878, people are complaining that not a vacant room is to be found at our Canadian watering places. Do you wonder where this vogue – or rather, this madness – comes from?!!
In the past, “saltwater bathing” meant going to Kamouraska. Members of the French-Canadian elite gathered there in summer for the resort’s joie de vivre and to restore themselves in mind and body. Today, however, the term “saltwater resort” implies the discovery of a huge territory!
The travel guides give us the impression that tourists are attracted to the Lower St. Lawrence by rustic bread ovens, rugs woven by our grandmothers, and wigwams beside the wharfs … Eh! eh! It may be a little for those things … But let me assure you, the reason our watering places have become so fashionable is above all because entrepreneurs – ever so brilliant and visionary! – have turned them into luxury destinations.
01:03 - 02:05
In these last years, outstanding hotels have opened their doors to travellers. The St. Lawrence Hall in Cacouna, for example, serves breakfast, mid-morning tea, lunch, and dinner accompanied by violins, flutes, and a harp. Do you hanker for anything? The maitre d’ will have granted your wish before you ask!
Carpenters aren’t lacking for work, to put it mildly! Villas are going up all over the rocky shoreline. Do you dream of owning a summer residence? Make an offer! Habitant families by the hundreds are leaving for the United States to work. If they can sell you a bit of land with a view of the river, your price will be theirs!
You ask me how to get to all these beautiful hotels, inns, and villas? Nothing could be simpler. Twenty years ago, steamers seemed only to be pretending to move, but today, they streak over the water! You’re treated like royalty on board, with the staff at your beck and call. They’ll even tell you all about the islands you pass on the way.
02:06 - 03:42
It’s a fact that governments have realized that all the regions would gain in prosperity by having deep-water wharfs. Big piers, big ships, and big profits! A whole network of steamers is providing cruises to watering places. With each year, there are new departures to a widening choice of destinations. Take Pointe-au-Pic: starting this year, there will be three daily steamer landings! And at Rivière-du-Loup, there will be a railroad-steamer link. The tourists of the 1870s are lucky: they can stop where they want on either side of the river!
And the trains: in 1860, the first passenger cars on the Grand Trunk Railway were like ovens. The windows were air-tight. You roasted – and I won’t even mention the smell. You couldn’t breathe! Today, railways are competing to provide the most luxurious, most comfortable cars – just look at the Intercolonial line, which has just been extended to Métis. Tourists arrive from farther away than ever: Ottawa, Toronto, New York, Chicago – but don’t start the trip without booking your room well in advance!
Believe me, the salty water, the bracing sea breeze, the countryside, and the mountains: the Lower St. Lawrence has always been rich in these treasures. But if tourists have started coming in droves, it’s because now, those worthy ladies and gentlemen can enjoy our “beautiful wilderness” in the greatest of comfort.
It was about time that progress arrived to benefit all the regions!