Quebec City – Thanks to the Sisters

Today’s post is 1350words, 24 photos, 1 video, a 7 minute read. Enjoy!

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the second installment of my four-part series on our time in Quebec City, Canada. If you missed my first blog on this historic and fun city, click here.

This week, join me as I take you around the city to historic and scenic sites. You might be wondering about the title of this post. Well, stay with me, I’ll reveal as the story unfolds.

But first….

The Dessert

Last week, I left you standing at the statue of Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec City. This monument is near the entrance of Chateau Frontenac, the famous landmark of Quebec City. Our morning tour ended here and we adjourned to the Chateau dining room for lunch. Our dining area overlooked the St. Lawrence River so the view was excellent but so was the service and the food. For my entrée, I had the beef cheeks, aka ox cheeks. This delicious dish is slow cooked for hours making the meat very tender, so tender that it melts in your mouth. Unfortunately, I was so engrossed in my meal that I didn’t take a photo.

However, I did take a photo of the beautiful dessert, it was as delicious at it looks. The blueberries had a silver coating and the top was sprinkled with crushed pistachios served on a ceramic tile. It didn’t take me long to devour this light, tasty dish.

The Cathedral Holy Trinity

With our afternoon free, my Traveling Partner and I stopped by the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Historic District. Located a few blocks from the Chateau Frontenac, this church was the first Anglican church built outside the British Isles. Its construction in the early 1800s firmly established the Church of England in Canada. I was struck by this churches resemblance to the St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square in London. It should, this church was designed by the same architects.

I would say the interior is more impressive than the exterior as can be seen in the photos below. Entry to the church is free, however there are donation boxes available to contribute to the upkeep of this historic building.

Musée des Ursulines

The Ursuline nuns, also known as the Order of Saint Ursula, were established in Italy in 1535 for the sole purpose of educating young girls, the first such order in the Catholic Church. The order spread through out Europe primarily in Germany and France. The Quebec City monastery of the Ursulines was founded in 1642 and soon began teaching girls and young women. The school proved to be quite popular providing both academic and domestic education. Today the school continues for the elementary grades and is coed. Our Road Scholar guide, Marie, attended the Ursuline school as a child.

The Musée des Ursulines tells the history of the order in Quebec City. There was a special exhibit of embroidery that the Ursulines sisters were well known for. I found two exhibits to be quite interesting. One was how the sisters taught science often with few resources. The other was the importance of teaching art and music. If you find yourself in Quebec City and enjoy museums, I recommend this one.

The chapel for the monastery was across the street from the museum. We found it to be quite ornate with a beautiful alter and interesting religious paintings hanging on the chapel walls.

The Monastery of the Augustine Order

The Catholic Augustine religious order was founded in 423 AD and named after St. Augustine of Hippo. The key to their beliefs is the pursuit of truth through learning and to behave with love towards others.

The first Augustine nuns arrived in Quebec in 1639 and a few years later founded the first hospital in New France. They provided care for the sick in both the French communities and for the Native peoples. Since they were a long distance from France, they could not depend on imported medicines. The Augustinians developed their own medications with herbs from the garden. They were well known throughout eastern Canada for their medicinal abilities and treatments in addition to their compassionate care of the sick.

After three centuries, the Augustinian order transferred the medical care part of their mission to the Canadian government when universal health care was adopted in 1962. With the decline in the number of sisters joining the order, the monastery became a health and wellness center with an emphasis on a holistic approach to health and sustainable development. Visitors of all cultures and faiths are welcome to visit the monastery.

Upon entry to the monastery, we were met by one of the staff who gave a bit of history. He invited us to visit the small museum and gift shop where sustainable and holistic items were for sale. He also mentioned the residential retreat center with 69 rooms and the classes in meditation, yoga and exercise, massage, and healthy eating. Of interest was his emphasis that the use of electronic devices is discouraged throughout the facility except in the private sleeping rooms. This practice can certainly cut down on the outside distractions.

Speaking of eating, our Road Scholar group was there for lunch. He explained the dining room, Le Vivoir, is place where relaxation and mindful eating is encouraged. The buffet serves locally grown and organic foods, thus changes by the seasons. The relaxed, quiet atmosphere was conducive to conversation and the appreciation of the delicious offerings. I especially liked the radish salad made with fresh radishes in a cream-based sauce. I’ll have to admit that it hard not to commit the sin of gluttony with free choice feeding. The food was that good and I venture to say the best I had in Quebec City, a place with a lot of good food.

I should mention the dining room is open to the public. The monastery also has a take out counter, Comptoir Commande, with hot food, light meals, and snacks. Enjoy this stop on your visit to Quebec City. We sure did.

Traditional Music

As part of our cultural learning experience with Road Scholar (they are pros at this!), we had a workshop on traditional French-Canadian music. The fiddle, accordion, and spoons are the most common instruments played in performances. In modern groups, the guitar is also a featured instrument.

One of the most distinct features of the music is the foot rhythm similar to tap dance. Performers often have a foot board and wear special shoes with taps or fiberglass to create louder percussion sounds.

These two performers gave us a little history of French-Canadian music and performed a few songs. The fella on the left also had a suitcase full of accompanying instruments. He distributed spoons to the audience and tried his best to get us to play along with him and his partner. See the video below on how well we did. It was a lot of fun and entertaining.


The Parliament Building

Just outside the edge of Old Quebec City is the parliament building of the Province of Quebec. Since it was a Saturday, the building was closed. Apparently, the public tours are quite nice, maybe next time for us. We admired the grounds as we walked by, the flowers were in full bloom and the landscaping well kept. In addition to the building, there were fountains, statues, and monuments strategically placed around the grounds. The current Premier of Quebec is François Legault the leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec, a nationalist, autonomist, and conservative provincial political party.

The Funiculaire

Thanks to the Funiculaire that travels from Lower and Upper Old Town, I survived Quebec City! For the low price of $5 CAD (~$4 USD) one can ride the Funiculaire the 210 feet at a 45° angle. Whew, no sweating, no complaining, and a very pleasant ride from bottom to top in a few minutes. The hike up the hill must have been a problem for a long time, a Funiculaire has been in this location since 1879.

Well that does it for this week. Join me next for the third installment of stories from Quebec City.

Until then, happy travels!


2 thoughts on “Quebec City – Thanks to the Sisters

  1. You visited everything we did on our trips to Québec. I did prefer the funicular instead of climbing le casse-cou.

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