A day worth repeating !!!
Breakfast with Canadians was fun, and my veggie omelet and the fruit, and croissant just divine. So off I headed back north to pick up Border Road out of Alburgh towards Canada 225. Seems as though I have crossed at all the small border custom points – such fun. “Why are you entering at this point?” the Canadian customs guard challenged me. “I like travelling the back roads,” I replied thinking he may not appreciate or understand my saying I was a shunpiker, “and I am heading up to Noylan to go west on 202 to pick up 221 north to Napierville and eventually to Fort Chambly. Impressed with my knowledge I was waved along with, “have a nice day.” I continued north on 221 from Napierville until reaching the 35 Motorway which shortly ends at the 10 Motorway, but fortunately Chambley was straight ahead down a nice residential street. If you don’t have your map out yet you can pick up your IPAD, IPOD or IPHONE and use the maps function to plot my route. I do not yet know how to save multiple routes, but fortunately for a detour coming back on 223 I was able to use what had been downloaded as my last map and could scroll around, enlarge, and confirm just what I should do. I love paper maps, don’t like little voices telling me to drive through lakes and over mountains without roads, and now I do like the even better maps you can get on the I-Devices – just have to learn how to save them. But I am rambling now – was going to be brief with exciting stuff.
I arrived at Fort Chambly just after its 10 AM opening. It strategically sits at the mouth of the rapids of the Richelieu River. As I usually do, I started first watching the video about the history of the fort (in English – the parks I visited today were all bi-lingual – but I need to relearn French now, along with learning Italian) and then at 11 I attended an archaeology presentation. I was the only attendee and the young college intern helped me more with an understanding of the background to the French and Indian wars, the fur trade, and the strife with the French, English and eventually Americans with the forts going back and forth. I am starting to get it, and my understanding has now expanded from the forts on just Lake Champlain to include these important ones on the only route from Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River. He spent over an hour with me, Gail G. (our local archaeologist extraordinaire) you would have been fascinated how he presented the various layers in a case with drawers representing the layers with examples of what was found. The unique information he was able to provide was impressive, just wish I had he memory he had. I encourage you to learn more about the fort and river.
From there I crossed the street to view the Chambly Canal which opened in 1842
bypassing the tough part of the Richelieu River for 19 kilometers making travel and trade possible from the St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain and further south. I watched some boats locked through Locks 1, 2 and 3 before I headed down Route 223 south following the river and canal. Now also a park, the old tow path was filled with bicyclists. The canal ends and rejoins the river in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu but I continued on 223 to the Fort Lennox National Historic Site arriving shortly after 3 PM.
On an island in the middle of the river, there is a short ferry ride to the fort. Read all you can and plan your visit soon. There were several forts built here over the years, with this
final fort built between 1819 and 1829 in case there was another war and attack from the Americans. Since it was a time of peace, they were able to take time and have the Royal Engineers work with stone. The Canadian park system does an excellent job of interpretation, and the English tour was beginning at 4 PM, just enough time for me to see the exhibits first. The guide was excellent with his facts and anecdotes. The fort was garrisoned until 1870, but another “activity” lecture began at 5 PM, and this was on the fort from 1940 to 1943 when it was used as an internment camp for Jewish refugees from Great Britain. There were a number of such German Jew camps throughout Canada, and the internees were divided into 3 categories with the “worst” being those thought to have Nazi sympathies – and in fact the Canadians thought at first they were handling German prisoners of war. Click on this link for a recent newspaper article This lecture was over at 6, and we remaining guests left with the staff on the last boat.
I had not made a lodging reservation for tonight not knowing how far I would get – and I did not get as far as I thought I may – just had too much learning and fun. I found nothing in Canada, and thought I would head over to pick up 133 to take me to I-89 to run down to St. Albans – had to be something there. But wait, small sign showed another border crossing sooner, so I checked the “saved” map on my IPAD, and off I headed toward VT 78 to Swanton through the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. Finding no lodging in Swanton I picked up my favorite US 7 to shunpike to St. Albans thinking there has to be an old inn or B&B on main street from what I remembered on my last drive though on my way to Montreal in 2009, and at the worst there has to be things at the I-89 entrance. Well, nothing to be seen, and the La Quinta Inn at the exit/entrance had two rooms left. “You don’t need the two room suite,” the clerk said, “but I have one double left for $175.” “I don’t want to buy a room,” I have always wanted to say, “I just want to sleep for a few hours.” But instead I said, “I prefer B&Bs getting more for my money.” “But we give you a continental breakfast.” “Oh boy,” I thought to myself, but instead asked, “do you know of any B&Bs in St. Albans.” “This is one, go to the second light, turn left, and a ways down on Fairfield Street you will see Back in Time.” It was 7 PM and I do not think it nice to knock on a door unannounced that late, but I did, and my Victorian B&B is
amazing. Pauline had 5 vacancies. But by the time I got back from dinner down the street in town she had had calls filling up. No one could find a room anywhere. One family from Montreal wanting to shop in Burlington (a half hour south) found no vacancies in Burlington or South Burlington, and had to come back north arriving at 9:30. She and I chatted, and she said it has been crazy like this. But again, my good fortunate worked out, I am
in beautiful surroundings (you can click on the thumbnails to see larger images of the rooms here).
Tomorrow I will go back to Canada again, explore the towns along the border, get to US 3 and travel through the Connecticut Lakes in New Hampshire and back home. New territory, new adventures, but today’s adventures I will readily do again, and encourage you to do the same. Guess that will be all for now, sadly. I have typed away for 1 ¾ hours, and still have to resize images. If you ever wondered what I do at night while shunpiking, I spend hours reliving the day. Remember a year or so ago I told you, “to write about something is to live it twice!” Good night, as always, RAY
Yes Ray, you should organize a tour, sign me up. Sounds and looks like a great fun time for you.
as always, looks like it was a fun, educational day.
What a beuatiful B & B! Did you know my family lived in St. A. for 5 years when we first moved to this country? We lived right around the corner from Fairfield St., and my sister went to the Fairfield St. School. Many of those big homes were on the Underground Railroad route.
When a border guard recently asked me why I was visiting Canada I could only come up with, “Um, I dunno, I’m just driving.” Sounds like your approach worked better than mine. 😉