Tag Archives: Saguenay

The Kingdom of Saguenay

5 Dec

 

It was the French El Dorado. Iroquois legends spoke of blond men rich with gold and furs that lived north of the Saint Lawrence River. Whether it was based on early Norse settlers who arrived in Newfoundland centuries before or a fabrication created to appease early French explorers and traders is unknown, but in 1536 Jacques Cartier discovered the entrance to a great fjord and his interpreter explained that it lead to the Kingdom of Saguenay.

LaViolette Bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River to Trois-Rivieres

LaViolette Bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River to Trois-Rivieres

Fluorescent reds, oranges, and yellows have streamed across my vision for most of a day while riding north through Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Immediately after crossing the 1.6-mile long Laviolette Bridge over the Saint Lawrence River into Trois-Riveries it was time to pull into the Coconut Motel so my retinas could rest. Inside, the deep red light punctuated by day-glo blue in the surreal tikki and wicker Polynesian palm-frocked motel bar seemed almost normal in comparison.

The Coconut Motel lounge

The Coconut Motel lounge

The Saguenay is often described as being an oasis in the wilderness, yet it is not difficult to find. One only has to follow Interstate 91 north to the US-Canadian border at Derby Line, Vermont where it becomes Autoroute 55, that eventually becomes two-lane Route 155. When Route 155 ends at on the shore of Lac-Saint-Jean you’re in the Saguenay.

Settled in 1608, Trois-Riveries (Three Rivers) was the second permanent settlement in Quebec, but its importance diminished after a fire destroyed most of the city in 1906. The downtown area of this old mill town has dozens of cafes and restaurants whose tables spill onto the sidewalks of Boulevard des Forges making this a popular weekend destination for regional riders.

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