I just arrived in Toronto last night. I’ve posted a few photos and wrote a little recap of our trip:
Day 1 – Waskaganish to Val D’Or (Route on Google Maps)
With my bags and bins packed, we hit the road early in the morning. This was Mom’s first time on the famous James Bay Highway, or Route de la Baie James. First, I took her to see the beautiful rapids of the Rupert River at KM 257 before turning southbound. We also found a beautiful little boat launch by KM 43. There was a lone fisherman standing around. I will have to bring J. back here with our kayaks in the fall.
I wanted to show Mom the beauty of the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region. Our first stop was Amos, where mom had a delicious almond croissant. We also came across some parking meters that had been “yarn bombed“.
That night, I made a booking at Auberge Orpailleur, which is one of the buildings in the historic mining village of Bourlamaque. It is also located just a few hundred meters from the old mine, which is now converted into an interactive museum and historic site called La Cité de l’Or. Below is a picture of some of the homes of miners. Many are private homes now.
Day 2 – Val D’Or to Rouyn (Route on Google Maps)
After breakfast at the B&B, we went to the museum at La Cité de l’Or. The museum was designed very well. We learned about the lives and the work of gold miners in the last century. I tried to lift up a 25 kg drill. It wasn’t easy! You had to be a big strong man – women were banned from this sort of work at the time – or else you would be fired. There were also a lot of east European immigrants workers, as well as Ontarians.
There were many well-designed interactive displays at the museum. This was an interesting game. The ‘hoist man’ was in charge of sending down the elevator, otherwise known as ‘the cage’ when mine workers needed to move between the subterranean levels or return to the surface. This was communicated through a series of clicks – each set of clicks represented a certain floor or level, similar to a Morse code – and if you get it wrong, there’d be nobody there! I managed to get three out of four tries correct.
We also learned about how gold was identified. It is often found when there are large bands or veins in quartz.
After the museum, we drove to the next town, Malartic. It was featured on the TV show, Monster Moves. The whole town was moved when a pocket of gold was discovered just 500 m underneath the local church. It cost $6 million dollars to move the entire town.
Here, we took a tour ($7.50/person) with the Osisko Mine. We got to see the largest open-pit gold mine in Canada, including the building that housed the largest rock crusher in the world!
Although the guides spoke mainly in French, they did make a big effort to tell us some cool facts in English. The neatest part was going into the garage. On site, there are approximately two dozen 793F Caterpillar trucks! They can carry up to 244 tonnes of materials. They are manufactured in Illinois, USA and then sent up to Canada, where it takes a week to assemble it. I had to take a selfie with this thing!
Day 3 – Rouyn to Toronto (Route on Google Maps)
Before we left Rouyn, I wanted to show Mom Lac Edourd, which has beautiful manicured gardens. We walked around and had the park to ourselves at 8:30 am in the morning.
The best part?
No mosquitos or horseflies! Not like in the boreal forests!
Notre-Dame-du-Nord is where I normally cross the border into Ontario. This time, we stuck to the Quebec side and headed to Ville-Marie, which is one of the oldest towns in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.
We sat down and ate at La Gaufrière, which translates loosely as “The Waffle House”. Of course, we had to stop for a geocache at some point during this 1400 km road trip! We climbed 91 steps to the top of the local mountain, to see the Notre Dame de Lourdes grotto. It is named and set up similarly to the one, by the same name, in France.
I got this geocache in less than 2 minutes. And yes, we are morons. We’re holding the Stanley Cup upside down (we are awful Torontonians).
There are many petite towns along the way as we passed through the countryside of western Quebec. Laniel, for example, has a population of 80 people. We stopped off the main road to see this beautiful mural of what life looked like, decades ago, in the rural north.
It’s funny, I’ve driven so many times through these towns and it’s amazing what you can see if you stop for a few minutes.