|The long drive south to Ottawa
Today we said “goodbye” to Quebec and returned to the Province of Ontario at Ottawa. The distance of 275 miles would be an easy day in a car, but in an RV on two lane highways and secondary roads, it’s about as far as you want to go in a day. Especially when road construction has you clicking mirrors with the big rigs on miles of narrow bypass lanes. Otherwise the road was good, and it took us through a large and scenic National Park.
Southwestern Quebec is rolling farmland, but the rocky soil is better for pasture than for raising crops. Watered by creeks and shallow rivers the landscape is lush and green this time of year. Stone walls take the place of fences, and barns are unpainted and weathered.
As we approached Ontario the sky turned dark and we could see occasional flashes of lightning. When the rain started it came fast and hard, accumulating on the highway in puddles and streams. Driving got increasingly dangerous, so we pulled off the road and waited out the storm.
When the rain stopped we continued on. The border between Quebec and Ontario is the Ottawa River, and by the time we reached it the road was dry. Crossing the bridge you have a good view of Canada’s clean and inviting capital city. As usual we arrived at the evening rush hour. Our route took us right through the city in heavy traffic, but the streets are wide and the driving wasn’t bad.
Our destination was a city campground on the west side of town. Freeway traffic was stop and go, but it was getting lighter by the time we reached our exit. The campground is wooded and quiet, and it will be our home for the next two or three nights.
We had a great time in Quebec and we saw much more of the province than we had originally planned. In 13 days we traveled 1,500 miles. If language was a problem it was not an insurmountable one, and with a few minor exceptions we found the infamous Quebec ‘attitude’ to be largely overrated. The attitude is there, but it shows itself in ways that are subtle rather than overt.
Driving toward Ottawa all day we never saw Ottawa mentioned on a single road sign until we reached the last turnoff to the city itself. It’s as though nothing exists outside of Quebec.
The woman who checked us in to our last campground said she didn’t speak English, but she seemed to understand us without a problem. When we enquired about their advertised internet she shrugged, shook her head and said, “Tomorrow” as though the system was out of order. It appeared to be working fine, but of course we couldn’t get on without a password. If we’d have asked her about it she would have pretended not to understand, and it wasn’t important enough for us to bother or give her the satisfaction.
This was the exception however, and most people we met were friendly and kind whether they spoke English or not. We went to Quebec with the attitude that since we were visitors it wasn’t their responsibility to understand us, but our job to make ourselves understood to them. We were surprisingly able to do that, and our efforts were appreciated by the people we met. That being said - it’s good to be back in bilingual Ontario again!