After the road, the trees… After the trees, unknown territory… After that, nothing at all.
(Louis Ferdinand Celine quoted by Kenneth White in The Blue Road)
Hi everybody! I’m very happy to be back with you on our blue road… ages seem to have passed since I have told you about our marvellous whales watching zodiac cruise on the St Lawrence River. Today we’re heading northward, towards the mythical point where road 138 ends up, quite a long distance still, so it will take some time to reach it, and maybe more than one post to write about it !
October 7th : after a good night rest at the motel Les Escoumins we are ready to start again, more eager than ever to reach the end of road 138. Just for the fun, I open the Gedeon Bible I’ve found in my bedside table. It reads :
‘The sun knows when to go down…’
Ironically enough it’s pouring down when we set off !
Something tells me we’re not going to lose the Scottish thread
Kenneth White, the great Scottish French author will help us not to lose it though his way of seeing things transcends frontiers. After travelling all over Scotland several times I can’t help feeling that to be born there, in a country where ‘wilderness’ still means something, does make a difference especially for a born poet. The Blue Road has become as vital for us as for a Chinese his Little Red Book. Not as a guide book, but as an inspirational book. So, hardly am I installed in the front seat of Janice’s nice and comfortable little car, the map on my knees, my camera within easy reach, that I open The Blue Road, at the chapter ‘Eskimo Joe’ to see what Kenneth White has written about his journey along this part of the road, nearly thirty years ago.
Though a great lover of wide open spaces, silence and solitude, the Scottish French author rarely travels alone, always ready to make friends with local people. He deeply sympathizes with the Amerindians whom he pictures in very lively and humorous dialogues, deploring the destructive effect of colonization and christianization on their culture, a culture which was in keeping with the rough Canadian environment.
Being a great reader too, Kenneth White travels with his head full of literary, philosophical and poetical reminiscences: Walt Whitman, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Melville, Nietzche, and of course Henry David Thoreau and the Transcendantalists are recurrently mentioned all over his pages.
Is the thing to build up an Atlantean library, somewhere on the edge of things, as a focal point above all the twaddle?
Or else, beyond all libraries, to try and put one’s finger on the pulse of our living earth, giving voice, however fragmentary, to the primal world?
(Kenneth White The Blue Road 1990)
So, below is Kenneth White’s itinerary from Tadoussac to Sept Iles where he intends to take the train to Schefferville.
The next stage meant the bus for Seven Islands, up the North Coast, passing through Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, Sacré-Cœur-Saguenay, Tadoussac, Grandes-Bergeronnes, Sault-au-Mouton, Betsiamites, Baie-Comeau, Godbout, Baie-Trinité, Pointe-aux-Anglais, Rivière-Pentecôte, Port-Cartier, Clarke City… (Kenneth White – The Blue Road – ‘Eskimo Joe‘)
How we would have liked to follow his trail up to Labrador ! We’ve already planned that for Quebec 2. Kenneth White travels on foot, by bus, train and hitch-hiking which gives him many opportunities to meet people. Road 138 did end at Havre-Saint-Pierre when he travelled there. Today you can go up to Pointe-Parent and even further if you have an all-terrain vehicle for after Pointe-Parent the blue road turns white and goes on up to Kegaska, 43 km further, but it’s a gravel road…
Having started at 10.00 am from Les Escoumins and planned to arrive at Baie Comeau before 2.00 pm to attend a very promising multi-media show in three acts, at the Garden of the Glaciers, we have not much time to linger on the road. At noon, however, after Papinachois, we turn on our right to a forest path leading to ‘Le vieux quai de Raguenau’. We want to see what has become of a place that was so busy in the olden times. At the beginning of the 20th century, as there were only maritime roads to link the local villages to the external world people depended entirely on boats to carry them, their mail and goods to the other villages or across the St Lawrence to Rimouski and Matane. And now, here we are, on a deserted quay, waiting for an unprobable boat…
Except for the brief appearance of a seal the place is empty. Or so it seems…for suddenly we fall upon a gigantic beast!
A dinosaur !!
Wait ! There’s another one. Have we landed on Jurassic Park ? They seem to be peaceful…
Road 138 is full of surprises! Look at the place where we parked the car ! Here’s an obelisk ! Let’s try to know more. This egyptian style structure is 100 feet high and it was built in 1994, together with the two big creatures by Rénald Girard, a local artist. We’re not going to forget the place!
We’re drenched to the skin but we can’t help to linger on the site. It must be pleasant when the weather is fine. There are five islands here : l’île la Boule, l’île la Petite Boule et le récif Boulay ! These three islands are called ‘Les trois soeurs’. There is also ‘l’île Blanche’ et l’ïle la Mine’… a good place for seals and other maritime creatures ! A forest path, ‘le sentier de la fascine’ invites you to take a walk in the neighbourghood ! Next time maybe, when the weather is fine !
Even our car seems to be reluctant to leave the place. It makes a strange noise. Quite worrying ! We begin to wonder if we’re going to stay here, in company of the dinosaurs !
I told you, there is still a long way to the end of road 138, so stay tuned for more: Port-Cartier, Sept-Iles, Havre-Saint-Pierre…
A bientôt. Mairiuna.