|“Almost at the End of the Road” by Tom Sexton
At Ottawa, Ontario, we begin to follow the Ottawa River to Arnprior. It’s hard to believe, but the French Voyageurs followed the Ottawa to its source and then followed the Great Lakes west. Portage La Prairie in Manitoba was part of their route; it’s truly amazing. I’ve attached a few photographs of Mattawa. The one of the chip shop is my favorite. Why would anyone want to go to Europe when they can visit the Wawa Goose and get poutine in Mattawa? From Mattawa east, Ontario is on one side of the river and the Province of Quebec is on the other. On one trip, we stayed in Waltham, Quebec, where the owner of the place we stayed, a retired oil man with a Saudi flag on his deck between his Union Jack and Maple Leaf, told me that “all the French here speak with an Irish accent and all the Irish speak with a French accent.” I told him that I must have died and gone to heaven. That was the last thing he said to me before we left in the morning.
I forgot to mention Spanish, a small town on the North Channel of Lake Huron. We stayed in a b&b, Le Bel Abri that was once a convent. We stayed in a cabin not the house. The owner is a very talented folk artist.
Our last night in Canada is usually spent in Arnprior, which is also on the Ottawa River. I won’t bore you with the details, but we stayed in another convent that was once a lumber baron’s mansion. It’s called the Kirkman House, and the owner, Ellen Smith, is the kindest person I have ever met. She gets up at 3 a.m. to deliver papers so she can send her children to university and keep the b&b going. Her husband died of cancer a decade ago. Visit if you ever have the chance. She will restore your faith in the human race.
Now on to Cornwall and the bridge over the Saint Lawrence Seaway to the USA. I have acrophobia, so I keep my eyes on the middle of the road until we’ve safely crossed the two very high bridges.
Sharyn tells me the view is worth a look. I can’t.
The End. I’ve gained great respect for anyone who can write coherent prose.