Monday, August 24, 2009

Restigouche, Quebec

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

While in Quebec we learned about the important battle on the Restigouche River, near Chaleur Bay. This single naval engagement settled, once and for all, who would control the New World. In one fell swoop France lost their holdings in North America. Their fleet of supply ships were either sunk or destroyed here, and they had no chance of regaining Quebec and Montreal. In 1760, England, for all intent and purposes, became the sole proprietor of a continent.

We left Amqui and were soon at the Restigouche museum, on the Quebec side of the river which borders New Brunswick. It turned out to be a real gem. With only a few patrons in the place, the staff welcomed us and we practically had our own docent. The artifacts were genuine and plentiful. It was fascinating to see large parts of the actual hull of the ship (La Machault), which had been retrieved from the water and put on display.
The timeline of events dovetailed perfectly with our recent viewing of “Liberty! The American Revolution”. In no small part did this battle have repercussions in the colonies. As part of the Seven Years War with France, this battle and the costs associated with long distance naval blockades was used by England as grounds for increasing their taxes in the colonies. This, of course, had greater implications further down the road.

What I find so interesting about the story is that in spite of England taking political possession of New France, Quebec to this days remains culturally French. In fact, of all the provinces we have visited thus far, Quebec is more foreign feeling simply because all the people speak French and not many are bi-lingual. I guess they never got the memo, or since it was in English, couldn't read it. Anyway, on such events the fates of empires hinge. Had the French won, things might be very different in both Canada and America. In fact, there's substantial data to suggest that had France won the day, there might never have been an American revolution.

The museum was closing by the time we left for the drive across the short bridge into New Brunswick. The first New Brunswickian we met was a female construction worker holding a stop sign. I rolled the window down to ask about road conditions and was astonished. Her accent was incredible. Carol and I both agreed it was English but from what era or land was difficult to ascertain. I kept asking further questions just to listen to her speech. This was different. Now we were looking forward to further encounters with New Brunswickians. Judging from this one person, it seemed like we'd be conversing with people from the Scottish Highlands several centuries past.

We drove south for another hour or two before I finally pulled over in a rest area, thinking we could spent the night here. The ubiquitous moose signs had been disconcerting. It seemed that the further we drove into New Brunswick the larger the mooses got in relation to the cars on the warning signs. We thought all we had to worry about were moose. No sooner had we settled in for the night when some moron came thundering into the rest stop, pulled next to the Casita and started revving his motor, then took off. This I took as a bad omen and resolved to push on rather than risk the return of said moron and the conflict it would surely engender. So, that's how we came to spent the night in the Kouchibouguac visitor center parking lot, some 60 miles further south. An annoyance at the time, but it all worked out in the end.

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