Editor's Note: This is the second article documenting our Quebec Trip with Bellport High School. Refer to this link to read our post about day one.
Day two of my trip with Bellport High School took us from Montreal to Quebec City. Once we arrived we were greeted by two city guides who split our group in half and took us on a tour of Old Quebec. While Montreal is rated among the best cities to live in the world and known for its cultural vibrancy and different creative communities, its beauty pales in comparison to the province’s capital. The first thing you’ll notice is how clean Quebec City is, and in all of my travels, I have never visited a city that can compare with the warmth and beauty it offers. Quebec City is awash in history and culture and packed with unique family shops, street musicians, local artists, stunning murals, fine cuisine and breathtaking natural geography that incorporates mountains, forests, valleys, and maritime views. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the only city north of Mexico City to still have its historic walls and the walled fortifications of Old Quebec are reason enough to visit.
We started our tour in the Quartier Petit-Champlain, an ideal neighborhood to explore if you’re looking for something quaint and charming. Located at the bottom of the cliff under the Château Frontenac, la rue Petit-Champlain is one of the oldest commercial streets in North America and offers a variety of interesting shops and restaurants in a romantic setting. Visitors come in droves throughout the year to visit the picture-perfect neighbourhood and it’s easy to see why. It didn’t take long before we were enchanted by the romantic European atmosphere, the impressive historical architecture and the cobblestone streets. Along the way we visited Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, a small church erected in 1688 by Mgr. François de Laval. The church (which was declared a historical monument in 1929) has gone through many restorations over the centuries by various famous architects and artists including Jean Baillargé, François Baillargé, Joseph-Ferdinand Peachy, David Ouellet and Louis Jobin making it not only a popular tourist attraction but a popular place of worship as well. If you ever feel a sense of deja-vu while visiting the site, it’s most likely due to the fact that you’ve seen the building in several popular Hollywood films including Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can.
Quebec City is also home to some truly stunning fresco murals which use the ancient painting method to preserve the figures and events of it is 400-year history. The first and most popular mural, Fresque des Québécois, is located just a block away from Notre-Dame-des-Victoires and recounts the story of Québec City, weaving in visual allusions to its unique architecture and fortifications, and its larger-than-life personalities. Look closely at the building's windows and you'll see Samuel de Champlain standing jauntily in the center along with some kids playing hockey and nearly a dozen of Québec's leading writers, artists, and historical figures. It's truly a breathtaking work!
To fully experience the Quartier Petit Champlain, we set aside some time to shop before making our way through St-Louis and St-Jean Streets to see the breathtaking Chateau Frontenac, a designated national historic site that dates back to 1893 and is generally recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world. The Neo-Château-style structure is a prominent feature of the Quebec City skyline and incorporates numerous towers and turrets, making it look like something you see in the pages of a fairy tale. Just in front of the hotel is the 425m-long boardwalk a.k.a. the Terrasse Dufferin which consists of a wood plank walkway with gazebos, street performers, and a spectacular sweeping view. Finally, we ended the afternoon with a trip on the Funicular, a funicular railway in the Old Quebec neighbourhood that links the Haute-Ville (Upper Town) to the Basse-Ville (Lower Town). Climbing at a 45-degree angle, the railway covers a total distance of 210 feet and offers a great view of the entire city.
If you feel your students need a fun team building alternative, there is no other comparison to working together in a 46-foot long human-powered watercraft. Topping off our daily activities, the students participated in dragon boating along the St-Lawrence River. Clear communication and teamwork were critical in order to get the boat moving in a straight line and paddlers had no choice but to sync up their strokes. For the unfamiliar, dragon boat racing is a watersport which has its roots in an ancient folk ritual and has been held for over 2000 years throughout southern China. While competition has taken place annually for more than 20 centuries as part of religious ceremonies and folk customs, dragon boat racing has emerged in modern times as a very popular international sport. Putting aside the brief history lesson, dragon boat is an effective way to focus on coordination, the importance of being healthy and teamwork. It’s not only physically challenging (you're bound to burn off a few calories) but incredibly fun. As you can see in the photos below, the kids had a blast!
As we've written in the past, "traveling leaves an impact on every individual, especially children. It broadens one’s horizons and alters their perspective of life, the world and their place in it. Opening the door of adventure and giving your students the opportunity to travel as a class; is one that will inevitably change their lives forever". Day two was a resounding success but despite the amazing people and places we came across, it didn't compare to what we would experience in the upcoming days. Click here for our report on day three and in the meantime, feel free to browse some more photos from our trip below. Enjoy!
"When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don't know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in." -- D.H. Lawrence