1916 Shark Attacks Trip

Our 12 year old has an obsession with sharks.  This is partly because he fears them and partly because he thinks they are fantastic creatures.  This obsession has led him to becoming a bit of a mini-expert on the (in)famous 1916 shark attacks.  I appreciate that some readers might think this is a bit of a tasteless topic to allow a tween boy to become obsessed with but a) we are nerds rearing other nerds and b) we encourage our sons’ curiosity and support their interests.  After all, our kids are being raised by parents who are – among other things – interested in the American Civil War, zombies, pandemics, the history of sideshows, and true crime.  It’s how we roll.  Anyway, at the (shark) tail end of Shark Week, we decided to facilitate our little shark nerd by taking a trip to the Jersey Shore to visit sites relevant to the attacks that occurred in 1916.

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While it would have been neater to visit the sites in chronological order, other factors dictated that we actually undertake the trip in reverse order.  We, therefore, started our trip in the town of Matawan.  The final attack actually occurred at Cliffwood when 12 year old Joseph Dunn was attacked as he was clambering out of the water.  Thankfully he survived.  Matawan was the site, therefore, not of the final attack but of the final fatal attack.  One of the reasons the 1916 shark attacks are so notorious is because of the bizarre fact that the final attacks occurred in an inland creek and not in saltwater.  It was 12 July and some boys had just gotten off work from the factory where they were employed and headed to the creek to swim.  Obviously there was no way these poor kids could possibly anticipate that a shark would be present in the water and unfortunately one little boy, Lester Stillwell, was killed.  The other boys alerted the folks of Matawan and tailor Stanley Fisher leapt to action.  He dived into the creek to recover little Lester and was himself attacked.  Heroic Stanley was quickly lifted from the water, placed onto a train to get him to hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries.  My research had made it apparent that there was no way for us to access the swimming hole without committing an act of trespass and probably doing battle with poisonous plants.  Our 12 year old, therefore, made do with visiting a part of Matawan Creek that had safe public access.

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We then visited Rose Hill Cemetery, a lovely, peaceful, shady spot where both Lester Stillwell and Stanley Fisher are buried.  Little Lester’s grave is sited near a pond that was absolutely covered in blooming lily pads.  It was a pretty and serene spot.  Previous visitors had left little toys and trinkets for Lester so evidently we were not the only people who had undertaken this trip.  On a little grassy promontory, we located the grave of Stanley Fisher.  It seemed apt that his grave overlooked that of Lester just as, in life, he had been looking out for the boy.  We also stopped by to see a memorial that was placed in a park to commemorate the centenary of the tragedy.

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After Matawan, we went slightly off-theme.  It would be entirely off-theme except that the location is on Raritan Bay and it was in that body of water that the alleged man-eater shark was caught.  I write alleged because we cannot know for sure that they captured the correct shark or indeed that only one shark was responsible for all of the attacks that happened over the course of those 12 days in July 1916.  Anyway, since we were in the vicinity, we thought we would go and check out the National Park at Sandy Hook to see if it was worth making that the focus of a day trip at some point in the future.  The answer is “Yes” so I won’t go into too much detail in this blog post since we plan to return and visit properly at some point.  I love lighthouses so it has one of those for me and it has Fort Hancock so has some military history for Mr Pict.  For the kids, it has wide open space for them to be feral and access to beaches.

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Back on topic, our next location was in Spring Lake.  This was where, on 6 July 1916, Charles Bruder was attacked.  The poor man was so severely injured that he died on the lifeboat as it made its way back to shore.  Bruder had been employed as a bellhop at the Essex & Sussex Hotel.  The building is still standing, though it is now a condominium block, so our 12 year old was able to see where Bruder lived and worked as well as the section of shoreline where the tragedy occurred.

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Our final location for the day was Beach Haven, on Long Beach Island.  We had been to Long Beach Island previously – and even found a dead shark on the beach – but that was before our son had researched the 1916 attacks and knew of its relevance.  Beach Haven was the site of the first attack, on 1 July, when a young man from Philadelphia named Charles Vansant was attacked.  His rescuers pulled him from the water and carried him into the hotel where he was a guest but tragically he died.  The Engleside Hotel was demolished in the 1940s but we could visit the place where it once stood as it became a Veterans Memorial Park.  We then headed down to the beach.  It being the conclusion of our trip and getting near the end of the day, we opted to spend some time relaxing and having fun there.  Amazingly  – given the theme of the day – the 12 year old with the mild phobia of water went swimming in the sea and had a wonderful time.

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Next time we go to the Shore, we will commit to doing what more regular folks do.

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Canada Trip #16 – Fort Henry and Kingston

Our only “big” trip out during our week staying at the lake house was to Kingston.  Kingston is a historic city, since it was united Canada’s first capital.  For three years.  Still, its historic significance means it has lots of quaint streets and interesting architecture.  The focus of our trip, however, was a visit to Fort Henry.

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Fort Henry was built during the War of 1812 and the site was important because it was at the head of the St Lawrence River.  I don’t get defensive  strategy but I’ve had enough exposure to military history to know that ports, major waterways, and railway intersections are important.  And also peach orchards if it’s the Civil War.  It didn’t last long as an actual fort in the whole scheme of things, however, as it has been a tourist attraction since the 1930s.

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The upper fort comprises what I guess were once storage warehouses that have been turned into shops and cafes.  We, therefore, headed down to the lower fort  – which was the “museum” bit of the Fort – and into a couple of rooms built into the gateway wall.  One contained an array of uniforms for the kids – and adults – to try on.  I preferred the opposite room which contained a cabinet filled with chunky vintage keys.  We also visited the cells – and, man, they had a lot of cells so those soldiers either must have been up no good a lot of the time or else they had too many petty offences on the books such as loudly burping in public or shoes being adequately shiny.  The cells, however, might have been preferable to the privies.  I personally would have preferred a stint in the cells than having to go about my business in a row of other people doing the same.

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We were also able to visit a few kitchens, some more rustic and some more formal, and we even saw some women baking pretzels in the original ovens.  They made the whole place smell delicious.  They were not the only staff in costume either.  Indeed, the whole fort was manned by folks dressed up in period clothing.  One of these was a teacher and we sat in her classroom for a mathematics lesson.  The experience taught the kids in the room about the differences between the ways in which each gender was educated, what some of the expectations of classroom behaviour were, and what some of the punishments were for disobeying those rules.

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Along the length of one corridor, we could view the finely decorated rooms in the officers’ quarters.  We had also seen a furnished barrack room for the non-commissioned men and the differences were pretty stark.  We passed through a room full of barrels – lots of alcohol consumption in the military, of course, and that led us into a room where we could choose to stay on the same level or take a detour down to the cellar level.  We love exploring dank, dark, and potentially spooky places so it was a no-brainer plus a warning sign about bats was read by us as a promise.  We all love bats.  Alas, and much to the chagrin of the Pictlings, we did not encounter a single bat nor did I see or smell any signs of them.  False advertising.

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Up on the ramparts, we could poke among the canons and gain a better appreciation of the shape of the fort.  We could also watch a troop of faux soldiers rehearsing their drill.  We didn’t want to catch too much of what they were up to, however, because we did not want a spoiler of the actual performance so we skedaddled.

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It was definitely time to eat by this point in the day, our schedule meaning we were having to combine lunch and dinner (dunch? linner?), so we headed into the centre of Kingston.  Mr Pict had been up to some googling so we ended up at a German restaurant.  I don’t eat meat which often completely rules out German cuisine and, as such, I don’t think the boys have ever eaten German food.  What better time to introduce them to new foods than when they are hangry and have been dragged around a fort in the searing heat against their will?  It actually proved to be an unexpected success – especially for our 16 year old who, like his father, is an enthusiastic carnivore.  Filled up and refreshed from some time spent with air conditioning, we had a bit of an explore of central Kingston.  Our youngest son – the one obsessed with cats – was delighted to pass many window displays with a feline theme.  For my part, I enjoyed seeing Kingston Penitentiary.  I would have liked to have visit but time did not permit.  Among the (in)famous prisoners who served their sentences within its walls was Grace Marks, the protagonist of Margaret Atwood’s novel ‘Alias Grace’.

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After wandering around Kingston for a bit, we still had some time to “waste” so we headed over to Kingston’s section of the Rideau Canal.  The Rideau Canal stretches all the way from Ottawa to the St Lawrence.  Having visited one end of the canal when I was in Ottawa back in 2001, it was apt that I visit its other end in Kingston, where the canal system meets the Cataraqui River.  Just as with Fort Henry, the catalyst for construction was the War of 1812 (a conflict I know a woeful amount about while having little intention of deliberately learning more) because the British wanted to ensure a supply route.  It’s possible that as many as a thousand people died while building the canal, often from malaria.  This was a factoid I learned while, yet again, being bitten by swarms of flying insects.

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After whiling away some time around the canal locks, it was time to return to Fort Henry.  We had tickets for the Sunset Ceremony so we headed back into the lower fort, clambered up onto some bleachers, and gobbled up some beaver tails while waiting for the evening’s entertainment to start.  The ceremony was a demonstration of military drills, music, artillery, and fireworks – and a walk on part by the goat mascot.  The whole performance was very polished, with lots of precise movements, great visuals, and an informative narration.  The kids had been very skeptical about the value of returning to the fort but they all thoroughly enjoyed the show.

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Canada Trip #15 – Gananoque

Gananoque is the main town in the proximity of Lake Charleston.  We needed to grab a few provisions so we headed into town and thought we would take some time to explore as well as do the practical job of grocery shopping.  I had thought we would visit the local museum in order to learn something of the history of the Thousand Islands – Gananoque being the launching point for day cruises around and to the islands – but the kids did their peasant revolt thing and Mr Pict was not feeling it either.  They had all really got into the vibe of an inactive vacation whereas I was still in the mindset of needing to fill time with activity.

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Gananoque’s main street – King Street – looked like a pleasant place for a wander so we decided to park up the car and get out for a stroll.  We had a nose around a few of the stores.  The one we spent a lot of time in was a book store.  It sold a mixture of new and second hand books and all were arranged on shelves by genre.  The usual methods of categorisation were present – such as classics and crime fiction – but there were also fun ways of organising the books such as books that are much better to read than their movie adaptation might suggest.  I have a slight addiction to buying second hand books – often leaving our local library with a bargain from their discard shelves – but I managed to resist temptation.  Mr Pict bought a couple of history books.

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We bought some drinks and ice creams from a lovely little cafe and were super-excited to see that, among the baked goods it had for sale, they had millionaires shortbread.  This is just blocks of shortbread with a topping of thick, oozy caramel, and a slab of chocolate as its lid.  What we were excited about was the fact they called it millionaires shortbread which is a label we have not seen since we left Scotland.  A little taste of home does the soul good so we bought some to have for dessert that night.

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Last stop in Gananoque was to see a statue of a fish that sits in the grounds of a motel complex.  It celebrates the world’s largest muskie (which I did not even know was a type of fish) that was caught locally.  The fish weighed something like 70lbs, which I guess is quite a lot of fish.  I don’t fish, have no interest in ever doing so, and clearly know nothing about it since I did not even know a muskie was a thing.  I do, however, love random roadside monuments, especially anything carrying the label of “world’s largest”, so I had to go check it out.  It was just a massive concrete sculpture of a leaping fish but I was happy to achieve something touristy.

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Canada Trip #14 – Charleston Lake

We felt we could not stay on Lake Charleston for a week without actually exploring Lake Charleston beyond our own little sliver of shoreline.  We, therefore, entered the provincial park, plumped for the shoreline trail, and set off on a trek.  An information at the trailhead provided us with some information on what we might encounter on our trek.  Consequently, the younger boys had high expectations of seeing wildlife.  This was despite the fact that we were encountering significantly fewer critters in our borrowed woodland house than we encounter on a daily basis in our suburban home.  We saw some squirrels, a punk caterpillar, and a solitary deer, and that – apart from the fish – was the sum total of our wildlife encounters during our week at the lake house.  This was not what we anticipated.  My youngest son has a trail camera set up in our backyard so he can capture images of deer and foxes and the chupacabra (a mangy fox that malingers in our neighbourhood) and he brought his camera with him to the lake house.  It captured nothing.  Nothing.  A whole week living in the woods and it captured not one single image of a beast of any kind.  But I digress.

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The shoreline trail was an easy going loop.  It was a baking hot day so the shade of the trees provided welcome respite from the heat and also created lovely dappled light on the woodland floor.  Shoreline was a bit of a misnomer as the path barely took us near the coast of the lake.  There was one point where we popped out of the trees at the water’s edge but a couple of kayakers were trying to have what looked to be a romantic picnic right at that spot so we did the diplomatic thing and kept moving.  The only other body of water we passed was some kind of pond – probably a tributary of the actual lake.  It was so still, however, that it was practically stagnant and, of course, that meant biting insects galore were having some kind of convention there.  We were instantly being devoured.  The mosquitos were so big that when we swatted them, they left crime scene style spatters of blood on our arms and legs.  So gross.  Even my husband, who is normally immune from being bitten, was getting eaten alive by these vicious insects.  That was the day when I was bitten so many times that I had a particularly nasty reaction in the evening.

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Mercifully, to make the trek worthwhile, we did encounter one (non-biting) animal – a gorgeous little frog.  Or maybe a toad.  I have not identified what specific species of amphibian it was.  The kids were thrilled to have an actual animal encounter.

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Canada Trip #13 – Fun on the Lake

I won’t keep you in suspense about what our experience of staying in one place for an entire week was.  This post, therefore, is about the way in which we used our lakeside setting and relaxed in the house spanning that entire week.  Future posts will cover specific things that we did.

The house was sited on a steep hill and it was built part way down the slope.  We, therefore, had to take a flight of stairs from the driveway down to the house, the house itself was single storey, then there was a flight of stairs down to a patch of land, and there was a further flight of stairs that took us down to a small jetty right on Lake Charleston.  This meant the house was snuggled into a space that was very secluded and private and, therefore, very quiet and peaceful.  The elevation also provided us with lovely views and we got to see some lovely sunrises and sunsets during our time there.  Mr Pict, space nerd that he is, also enjoyed being able to go out onto the deck in the absolute pitch dark to study the constellations and show the boys the Milky Way free of light pollution.

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The big hit, of course, was having access to the water.  The boys loved jumping off of the lakeside deck and splashing into the water.  The water was really clear so we regretted not bringing goggles and a snorkel.  We were swimming among many fish and Mr Pict and two of the kids saw a swimming turtle at one point.  The kids also encountered a critter that was biting their toes.  They were initially concerned that this was a snapping turtle but I pointed out they would definitely know had they been bitten by one of those.  It turned out to be a really territorial fish who was biting at them any time they got near her particular rock – which was very close to the jetty stairs.  The boys nicknamed her Trish the Foot Fetish Fish.  I think they grew rather fond of her.

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The house also came with a canoe so we spent quite a lot of time going for brief excursions along the perimeter of the lake.  We could not risk crossing the lake or indeed venturing too far from the shore because there were speed boats bursting up and down the length of the lake pretty much constantly.  The kids have limited experience with paddling but got really pretty good at it towards the end of the trip.

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We also utilised the fire pit to make s’mores for dessert on a couple of evenings.  My kids are equally as drawn to fire as they are to water so I am pretty sure the thing they enjoy most about making s’mores is having the opportunity to poke things into flames.  We got into a totally sticky mess.  I also managed to get eaten alive by biting insects.  Insects find me insatiable.  My blood must taste like finest champagne to them.  Unfortunately, I have a terrible reaction to insect bites.  Most of the time, it just leads to discomfort but otherwise is not too problematic.  Sometimes, however, it results in me feeling very sick.  Unfortunately on one of the evenings at the lake house, I was covered in so many nasty bug bites that I developed an excruciating headache and a mild fever.  That was, however, the only downside to the location.

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We had one day of non-stop, torrential rain during our week there.  We, therefore, just hunkered down and used the time for relaxing on our own or playing games together.  Our evening habit was to play games and there was one in particular that we got a bit obsessed with.  We must have played scores of games of ‘One Night Ultimate Werewolf’.  I used my flumping around time to read a couple of books and draw while listening to podcasts.

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Overall, I think we all enjoyed our time at the lake house and benefited from the fact it forced us to slow down.  Given the stressful situation we had left behind, removing us from the chaos and forcing us to relax after a period of such intense activity, it was probably good therapy to experience a week of this style of vacation.  I cannot deny, however, that I did have the nagging feeling that we should be packing more experiences into each day in order for our vacation to offer better value for money.  I think what we probably need to do in future is find a happy balance between really pushing ourselves to the limit when it comes to travel and making time in which to relax.

Canada Trip #12 – Brockville

An early check out from the apartment in Montreal and a late check in for our next accommodation meant we had time to spare.  For various, mostly pragmatic reasons, we elected to spend that spare time in Brockville, Ontario.

One of the non-pragmatic reasons we selected Brockville was that it has a disused railway tunnel we could visit.  I confess to only being very vaguely interested in the prospect of visiting a piece of infrastructure heritage because industrial history isn’t my thing.  Just as with being a perpetual pessimist, the joy of having low expectations is that its wonderful when they are exceeded.  Such was the case with the Brockville Railway Tunnel.  I was expecting bare brick, chilly walls, and dripping water and really not a lot else.  It was a grossly hot and humid day, however, so the idea of taking a stroll through intense shade certainly appealed.  What we found, however, was a railway tunnel that volunteers have transformed into an installation that tells the story of the local railway heritage while also being a sort of sensory exhibition.  There was indeed bare brick, chilly walls, and dripping water, but there were also colour changing lights and music and sounds.  I liked the effect of the changing colours a lot.  Ever so often, the sounds of a whizzing train would be pumped in and the lights would go sharp white except for a red section that moved at high speed to replicate the movement of the train through the tunnel.  It was like a disco ghost train.  I mean, there is really only so much you can do to enliven a railway tunnel but I really think the team of volunteers of doing a sterling job of doing so.  It really did make for a pleasant stroll.

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We later spoke to one of the volunteers and he explained that the idea of gussying up the tunnel was for it to act as an enticement to bring people to the town and give it an economic boost.  That ploy certainly worked on us as we popped out the other end of the tunnel and found a pleasant, compact little town on the waterfront and decided to spend some time milling around there.  The boys skipped stones in the water while Mr Pict watched commercial ships charging through the water.  I also found that the town had once been the site of a hospital island where emigrants stricken with cholera had been housed during an 1832 epidemic.  I have a keen interest in the history of pandemics and some epidemics so I found this to be of interest.  A sign also informed me that a fellow Scot had expired there when, in his role as doctor, he had contracted cholera when attending to the sick.  We rounded up our time in Brockville by stopping in at a local pub for a tasty meal.

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Replete, we next headed to a local supermarket to stock up on groceries.  Our next destination was remote and we had been told that access to groceries would be limited.  We, therefore, decided to stock up on food for the week in Brockville since we knew they had a big supermarket and we had time to burn.  I am big on meal planning and buying only items that are on the shopping list.  However, we definitely added extra items to the shopping trolley because we discovered that Canadian supermarkets stock lots of items we used to buy in Britain but cannot get – or cannot affordably purchase – in America.  We went a bit crazy with breakfast cereal and chocolate and candy.  We actually bought enough that some of the cereal eventually came home with us.  The chocolate, of course, had a much shorter life expectancy.

We arrived at our final destination in the late afternoon.  Long time followers of this blog will know that our road trips usually involve us moving frequently from location to location, and never staying any one place for more than a few days.  For this vacation, however, we decided to treat – or challenge – ourselves to a change of pace.  We were going to be staying in the same location for an entire week.  Adding another layer to the change of pace was the fact that the house we were renting was situation on Lake Charleston and was fairly remote and quiet.  We were going to have lots of downtime in which to relax.

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Canada Trip #11 – Montreal

In every vacation – especially with our road trips – we have some kind of mishap, catastrophe, or major stressor.  For our Canadian road trip, it was the Montreal leg of our trip that went almost entirely pear-shaped.  I had so many possibilities researched for our time in Montreal, so many potential plans, but if those plans were all neatly packed into a box then our time in the city was like the bottom falling out of that box as soon as it was lifted up.

It all started with the accommodation, which had been booked with a company we had never used before and shall definitely never use again.  It was a hotel without a concierge so the idea was we had to phone 24 hours before check-in to be given all manner of instructions and access codes.  This should have been simple enough but they did not answer the phone, no matter how many calls we placed and messages we left.  I will spare you the details of the saga but just know that the uncertainty was very stressful to manage and gave me sustained elevated anxiety.  My husband and I used to wing it when travelling in the past because finding one room for two people at last minute was rarely problematic but finding accommodation for six people is a challenge even when planning in advance and definitely cannot be managed on spec without a whole barrel more stress.  Ultimately, at very nearly the last minute, the company finally picked up the phone, provided the codes, and we could access the accommodation.  All we had time left to do that first evening, however, was have a brief explore of the area nearby.  It was a frustrating start.

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The first proper thing we did in Montreal, therefore, was to ascend Mount Royal.  This is the volcanic hill that gives the city its name.  Neither Mr Pict or I had visited it during our previous visit to Montreal so we were keen to see it and the spectacular views over the city that were promised.  We set off from our apartment in the morning and were soon hiking up the trails, through the trees, to get to the summit.  And, just as we really started ascending, the skies opened and we were drenched by a deluge.  We sheltered beneath the tree canopy in the hopes it would quickly pass over.  Rain had not been predicted for the morning after all.  However, it did not pass.  It actually just got worse.  By this point we were soaked to the skin anyway, and at least it was warm, so we decided we would keep plunging onwards and upwards.  We emerged from the woodland trail onto the belvedere dripping, squelchy, and looking like forest trolls.  But at least it would all be worth it for the fabulous views, right?  Yeah, not so much.  We could definitely see an expanse of the city below us but it really wasn’t that enthralling a view.  Maybe it was the haze from the intense humidity obscuring the detail and maybe (probably) it was our soggy moods but we were all entirely underwhelmed.  Well, Mr Pict and I were merely underwhelmed; our sons were incandescent, feeling like they had been duped by us, and starting to foment a rebellion against committing to any of our other plans for Montreal.  Oh dear.

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We squelched and dripped our way back down the hill and towards the neighbourhood we were staying in.  Most of us were going to require a change of clothes before we could even countenance doing anything else.  Our apartment was in a district that was kind of hipster and trendy, definitely in the category of an up and coming area rather than fully gentrified, and we had learned that it was fun to explore it by daylight, when it had a really great vibe, but we didn’t really want to have the kids out after dark.  Anyway, our walk back to the apartment from Mount Royal took us through a neighbourhood where the gable ends of buildings and other walls were decorated in wonderful murals.  Apparently urban artists are invited to paint the walls in the neighbourhood every summer and the quality of their art is really fabulous.  The kids and I really enjoyed viewing them and treated the streets like an outdoor art gallery.

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Returning to the apartment to dry out and change clothes was useful on a practical level but it was also a mistake.  Once the kids were back inside those four walls, they mounted a bit of an insurrection about going back out.  Our bad start to exploring Montreal had eaten away at their enthusiasm and they were bottomed out.  Plus they are teen and tween boys so any opportunity to rebel and rail against parental dictats is going to be seized upon.  I sometimes have to remind myself that life was not in fact easier when they were all small enough to be strapped into a buggy or carrier.  I also have to remind myself that I have trained them to voice their own opinions and to debate.  I created these rebellious monsters!

We compelled them to go back out again with the promise of lunch.  Once they had been fed, however, I revealed that we would be using what remained of the afternoon to do something constructive.  Of course they whined and grumbled but I was past caring at this point.  As we are fond of reminding our precious children, while we normally parent in a democratic style, sometimes we have to be dictators.  You can imagine how well that went down.

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My most vivid memory of my previous visit to Montreal was of visiting Notre Dame Basilica (yup, same name was the one in Quebec) because I had been bowled over by its interior decoration.  I decided that was what we would do so we tramped over to the old city.  The queue for admission ran all the way down the street – cue much griping – but it was also fairly fast moving.  We were inside in under forty minutes.  The kids elected to soak up the atmosphere and aesthetics (and air conditioning) from a pew so I just abandoned them there while I wandered around the basilica and studied the details of the carvings, the stained glass, and the paintwork.  It was the latter that had left that lasting impression with me.  The vaulted ceiling is painted a rich blue that is then spattered with gilded stars.  The main altar is also mainly an azure blue colour but with patterns picked out in red and purple as well as gold.  It’s like an exquisite box of luxurious jewellery.  It’s lavish and stunning and a bit of an extravagant confection but I think historic ecclesiastical architecture can pull such excess off.  I even got to hear the 19th Century organ being warmed up and played briefly which was fantastic.  The kids remained unmoved and unimpressed.

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After a bit more wandering around the old city and its port, we gave up.  We strolled back to our own neighbourhood, grabbed some ingredients for our evening meal from a grocery store, and returned to our apartment, and I packed up so we could set off for the next leg of our trip.  So our time in Montreal was a bit of a damp squib all in all.  My memories from my 2001 Canadian road trip had left me with the impression that Quebec was a much more appealing tourist destination but that Montreal was a much more practical city and my visits this time had just served to shore up that opinion.  While our visit to Montreal as tourists had been beset by problems – some of our own making and some not – I could definitely imagine it being a great place to live and work; meanwhile, Quebec was a wonderful city to visit as a tourist but I think living there could be a bit more challenging.  In any case, we were done with cities now.  Now it was time for a change of pace.