Sunday, April 24, 2016

Asbestos - 45° 46' 21" N 71° 55' 59" W

Rural Québec
Today, we rented a car and took off into the Québec countryside.  Yes, this was part of our homework.  We have been learning directions so all navigation was carried out in French.  Unfortunately, we had not learned the word for u-turn which we would have found rather handy!

We headed east from Montréal and found ourselves in the Eastern Townships, a little pocket of Québec tucked up against the US border.  Beautiful countryside filled with vineyards, cycle paths, cosy accommodations and unique gourmet experiences (and precious memories to bring home if you believe the website!).  It was certainly very pretty.  Although we are right at the end of 'sugar season', we did see many maple trees tapped for syrup.  Gone are the days of the bucket at each individual tree - maple forests now sport poly tube that runs from tree to tree and along a central collection tube.  Not quite as romantic but would save the slog from tree to tree.

Le Pont Perrault
We also discovered a covered bridge!  Prior to the industrial age, most structures were made of wood and/or stone.  Wooden bridges built where the rain and snowfall was extensive tended to rot quickly if left uncovered.  The roof on a bridge meant the bridge was snow-free and therefore useable during the winter, as well.  This particular one, le pont Perreault, had a latticework frame of 2"x 8" beams attached to 8"x 8" beams inside.  Québec still boasts 82 covered bridges, in varying states of repair.  We explored le Pont Perrault that has undergone a full renovation and is absolutely stunning.

Stunning interior of the bridge

Further on down the road, we have the option of heading to Melbourne or Richmond.  Is our navigation that bad?!

We are in Québec, n'est-ce pas?

... and then we headed to Asbestos.  The town of Asbestos was named for the wonderful silicate material that is mined there.  Asbestos had the world's largest asbestos mine up until it was closed down in 2011.  It surprised me that asbestos was still being mined only a few years ago so I did a little research.  

Asbestos is not fully banned in Canada although it is highly regulated.  What really surprised me is that it is not banned in the US and is still commonly used products as clothing, pipeline wraps, vinyl floor tiles, millboards, cement pipes, disk brake pads, gaskets and roof coatings.  Blue asbestos was banned in Australia in 1967, the use of asbestos materials was banned from building products in 1989 but (and again I was surprised!) it was not until 2003 that its import, use and recycling was fully banned.  India, Indonesia, China, Russia and Brazil continue wide spread use of asbestos, including in building materials.

Despite it still in fairly common use, if I sat on the Asbestos town council, I would be pondering a name change!

Just take a deep breath of that fresh spring air!
Lunch was the Quèbec specialty poutine - and from the this region.  Depending on which source you credit, it was 'invented' in Victoriaville, Drummondville or Warwick!  For those unacquainted with the delicacy, poutine consists of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. 

Rubbing our bellies and questioning our wisdom in dining choices, we headed north-west to the Saint Lawrence and ambled along its banks back to Montréal.
The Saint Lawrence River
Some serious fresh water

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