Article submitted by Charlotte Hughes
Manotick to Montreal, what an experience! It was a trip full of excitement, beautiful scenery, delicious food, excellent accommodations, and above all a holiday with folks who truly love their wooden boats!
After launching our boats at Long Island Marine, we met at Sarah & Murray Gould’s for a wonderful buffet supper provided by Sarah and other ladies from the Manotick Classique Boat Club. It may have been pouring rain outside but it didn’t dampen our spirits or the welcome some 60 of us received as we clustered into the Gould’s home on the Rideau.
A thunderstorm moved through the area early Monday morning but by the time we launched our crafts and headed for Ottawa the skies cleared and the sun shone. Not long out on the Rideau River the “Boys & Girls in Blue” from the Ottawa Police had a little chat with Norm, our California boat buddy in the Grand Craft. Seems Norm has a rather heavy foot! However, who could not love this affable gentleman. A warning was sufficient and on we travelled. The Rideau is lined with beautiful homes and it was a most relaxing ride complete with a box-lunch provided at the first lock. Approaching Ottawa we were impressed anew by the skyline greeting us. Viewing it from the water gives one an entirely new perspective of our capital city. Once through the numerous locks and into the Ottawa River we looked back to see our Canadian Flag waving proudly high atop our majestic Parliament Buildings on the hill. It was a moment of real pride! Locking up through many locks before and after Ottawa went surprisingly smoothly, with each crew taking care of the other so as not to have any scrapes or scratches.
We reached our next destination, the Auberge Montebello in the late afternoon. Here we were treated royally to lovely rooms, a salt-water pool, rooftop spa, excellent dinner and breakfast and exceptionally friendly service. Unfortunately, Chris & Julie Bullen, were awaken Wed. AM to learn that overnight their newly acquired runabout had taken on water and sunk at the dock. No problem, with help it was taken out of the water and trailered to Jimmy Potter’s shop where his crew repaired it and had it ready to be picked up on Friday and delivered to Montreal in time for the show! Before leaving Montebello, some of us took time to visit the famous Montebello Inn adjacent and tour the picturesque grounds.
By noon on Tuesday the remaining four boats left the hotel following the others towards the next overnight stop at the Hudson Yacht Club. To say that many of us had no idea how wide the Ottawa River is, is an understatement. We were soon to learn that it is not only wide, but very shallow in places and can get very rough. We were drenched several times over the next few hours but dried out quickly in the sun & wind. A huge sandbar tricked many of the captains, stranding boats and necessitating some crew to get into the water and literally pull boats to safety. (We have the pictures of the Kitchings, Jim Watt and Rich Hughes pulling the Grand Craft to prove it! Just wondering Jim, did you invite your sister Barb along in the event you were going to need some help in the water??)
At last after cruising 29 miles we locked up at the Carillon lock. This lock raises or lowers boats 20 m and has a unique guillotine closing system. By late afternoon we reached the Hudson Yacht Club, docked and took busses to our hotels. Another night of feasting at the Willow Inn, then we were off to bed and ready for an early start the next day.
Wednesday morning we travelled 11 miles to the Ste. Annes Lock where we were treated to coffee and sweets and a chance to stretch our legs then on 15 miles to Lock #1 of the Lachine Canal where we were welcomed by the City of Lachine and treated to a delicious lunch by Parks Canada. Then it was back in our boats and on towards Montreal. The run before the locks was perfect, fast and without incident. As we passed through many locks in the city of Montreal we saw first hand the renovations of derelict factories converted into smart condos and many beautiful parks and bike paths everywhere. We reached the show location where we docked, sent our luggage by van, then walked the few blocks to our hotel, St. Paul Hotel at 355 Rue McGill, our home away from home for the next four nights. St. Paul has an historic façade but is ultra modern inside. Breakfast, part of our package, soon became a much-anticipated part of the day with good food and expansive seating affording us a chance to chat and plan our days.
Much of our free time in Montreal was spent walking the quaint streets of Old Montreal. This helped to wear off those extra pounds from all the eating! Some of us enjoyed tours of the city at large and visits to tourist attractions. Those who were ready for more time on the water left the docks Thurs. morning on a boat trip to a winery/estate tour at Ile Ronde. Thursday evening all club members were invited to share dinner at Steak Frites, giving us another opportunity to meet with boaters and enjoy the excellent cuisine. Other evenings, small groups met and tried the various local restaurants, often combining evenings of dining and late-night shopping! The Truax’s and Rich Hughes’ managed to get close enough to listen to “Green Day” who was playing at the waterfront. In a city the size of Montreal there was never a lack of something to do.
The weather was beautiful ‘till Saturday afternoon when a light misty rain began. However it did not hamper the show or the number of visitors who came to view the boats, ask question and tour the exhibits. Sunday dawned gray and overcast. We were prepared for a rainy day. Once again it did not seem to slow the number of Montrealers who came to enjoy the show. At 10:30 we collected under a tented area to learn the results of the judging. TSACBA and MCBA did extremely well and took many of the awards. All winners are to be congratulated.
After the awards ceremony, chief organizer of the Montreal Show, Simon Lubrun, then instructed the captains to meet in order to be given departure times. Shortly thereafter the final leave-taking procedures commenced. As we waited for our turn to get out through the locks and into the loading area the sky closed in and the rain increased.
It seemed a fitting time to leave. We had experienced a wonderful week but as always there is a time to return to home and to routine. A big thank you is due to organizers, our own Jim Watt and Ron Jelly from the Manotick Club for their many hours of planning and guidance throughout the trip. It was definitely a trip to remember!