In one of my rare forays to Quebec City, I chanced upon a tavern rare, just feet away from the hotel exit. Strangely enough, the bar was half full of mainly men. I and two chums commented on the “Louie-ish” aroma that pervaded the air and brought back memories of another era, somewhere further north. After the search for the bartender, who was glued to a patron in a corner of the bar, I went back to join the chums at the table. We rambled on, oblivious to the other patrons in the room. Bravely, I called for another and had to look for the waiter again, this time pressed closely to another patron in another section of the seedy joint. I quickly figured out that this was one of those happy-hour places and then skipped the place, leaving my chums behind.
Thinking about Quebec City of the past, when I went there during the summer in the early 70s I was very impressed with the town and its ancient city dwellings. I even saw the famous, longest toboggan slide in the world, albeit in ninety degree weather (things were in Fahrenheit and colour televisions were still uncommon in those days) and vowed to return one day, this time in the winter, just to slide downhill at breakneck speed.
Sadly, I never got to fulfill that wish and I’m sure my neck is forever grateful for that. A decade later, in the 80s, I returned to stay at the famous Chateau Frontenac. I did the usual tour of the old city but I never got to see that toboggan slide, although I did get myself arrested for being able to walk in a straight line and placed in some ice jail for being sober, which further confounded my understanding of the place and of the French in general. I was forced to down some maple syrup-laced toddy, which I found to be very tasty, and was eventually ousted from jail and back on the streets with the other carousers. Mind you, it was during some winter festival in February and was quite chilly.
Another decade passed, and it was the 90s, attending some meeting outside of Quebec at Mont Ste. Anne. Again, the chance to do the toboggan ride never materialized and I never thought that I would return to see that slide. A new millennium passed and another decade slipped by until my return to the city that flanks the Plains of Abraham and the tall cliffs that General Wolfe scaled centuries ago. Wolfe, I discovered, may have been an ancestor of mine, but that’s another story. At the time of this writing, I may venture out to see if I can do the luge on a ‘boggan, fulfilling a childhood dream of mine, to ride the world’s longest toboggan slide. Perhaps I will find peace and happiness and have some sense of closure, knowing that I finally did what I wanted to do for 30-some odd years.
So I went sliding at the age of 40-something, much to my pleasure and exhilaration. The slide, however, seemed smaller than I had imagined, but hey, I did what I had to do and plunked down the twoonie for an open air plunge at night, no less. Adrenaline pumping seat of the pants tobogganing may be old school, but it sure beats looking for a waiter on the wrong side of town any night! Highly recommendable and cheaper than the movies or DVD rental, sliding downhill does have its thrill.
Sadly, with my spirit sated with childhood yearnings safely tucked back in my sub-consciousness I left Quebec, Quebec, the next day. Perhaps I will return with the kids and let them have some fun for a change.