> HOWLING: 1996 A howling wilderness - Tadoussac, drawings. (select) File:HOWLING, select pics. Update: 2020-05-19.
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1996 A howling wilderness - Tadoussac, drawings.


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96-06-24 Monday (n34p14 notebook # and page) We bypass Quebec City and begin the camping trip at Baie St. Paul with Nathan and Lison and baby grizzly bear Justine. The campsite is ominously named Camping de Gouffre, Camping of the Abyss. Rains and rains for hours and hours, drowning little birds and flowers. Sniff.

A nearby campsite packs up and leaves at 4 am with 37 furious slammings of car doors. Difficult even to dream, listening to heavy rain drumming on a tent fly. What to do at 4 am on a dark and stormy night. Hmm .... A good Boy Scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties. And lo, the sky begins to brighten up by 4:30 am.

96-06-25 Tuesday Up before 6 to combat civil unrest. Into raingear. Porridge and coffee on the SVEA stove to restore morale. Rain stops. Must have been all that smiling and whistling I did. Thanks a bundle, B.P.

The lady next door stumbles around the campsite in her underwear, wearing a sleeping bag draped round her shoulders like a mink stole. Finally rescued by boyfriend who appears from out of the woods somewhere.

They rip down their tent and drive off to drier climes, she still in her underwear. But only as far as the showers, says Merle on her way back from the loo. The showers are broken. Squealing tires again as our two disgruntled neighbours set out on a province-wide quest for hot water.

Nathan shambles out of his tent, bleary. Couldn't sleep, he complains. Some maudit idiot was whistling in the rain at 4am.

Porridge is ready, yells Derek with a stress-relieving grin. And who wants a mug of full-bodied, rich-flavoured instant coffee? ... When he regained consciousness ...

- Maudite beer
The beer label celebrates the story of the backwoodsmen who make a pact with the Devil to get home to their families on Christmas Eve. Partying too long, they're about to have their souls foreclosed, when one of their number rouses them, just in time to sober up and paddle madly back through the night skies to their camp in the bush.

Moral: when you've already sold your soul to the forest industry, the Devil isn't really worried about losing touch.

(n33p75) and (n34p14) Curiously inter-related facts to weave into a gothic tale: Views to sell your soul for as we piloted our birchbark mini-van into town yesterday evening. Hydro cables over the campsite sizzling hellishly in the rain. Justine howling like a banshee, on and off most of last evening. And, yes, Nathan, it's damnably difficult to pee into a beer bottle in a darkened tent with a giggling W.O.M. in your sleeping bag.

Camping de Gouffre -- un Gouffrage? (cf. gouf + naufrage)

96-06-24 - Baie Ste. Paul, coming from Quebec City.

(n34p15) Am jealous of La Belle Province for having so much of this kind of scenery: long views of hills and valleys seen over sizeable bodies of water. Villages nestled into coves along the coast. Compare to Lake Superior in Ontario. Lakes Erie and Ontario seldom provide this same effect, the adjacent land being flatter.

(n33p77) Should perhaps leave this sketch uncoloured as a comparison. Everyone else seems to prefer coloured drawings in a 10 to 1 ratio. Not so sure, myself. Inhibitions? Fear that colour may be hard to handle? Contempt for cheap artistic thrills? In any case, colour is habit-forming. But still, there's often something powerful about the very spareness of line drawings. A maximum of effect from a minimum of information. Leverage. The mind thrills as memories are reconstructed (or invented) on the slimmest of clues.

The line in these drawings is not always confident; not always sure where it's going; but here and there a suggestion of greater or less weight, a squiggle, hints at, dare I say it, artistic insight? A kind of rapport with the subject that is, for me, very satisfying. The ego is free, even as it submits, for once, to something external to its own sweaty schemes.

(n34p15) On the Front at La Malbaie opposite the Canadian Tire Store. The beach here is armoured with large stone blocks, backed by a walkway and road. Featureless. Am now sitting on a rock trying to figure out what, if anything, is mal about the baie. The opposite side of the estuary is visible beneath a heavy overcast which, presumeably, lifts every decade or so. Nathan and Lison are shopping for cooking utensils at the Canadian Tire Store. ... Oops! Almost forgot. Who's looking after Justine?

Justine is O.K. W.O.M./F.D.M. in charge.

(n33p76) We decide to postpone the ferry to Riviere du Loup and to go on to view Tadoussac and the mouth of the Saguenay. At Pte. Noire, and during lunch at St. Catherine a mile or so back down the road, we make our final decision not to cross over the St. Lawrence River, but to look for a campsite in Tadoussac. We need a spot to hang out a few days, get the baby sorted out. A lucky decision.

- Saguenay, first view from Pte Noire.
(n33p79b) First view of the mouth of the Sagenay and Tadoussac.

(n33p78) Seen from Pte. Noire Coastal Station, a small Parks Canada site at the mouth of the Saguenay. Looking N.N.E. Little did we know, gazing on this scene, that we'd be camping about a millimeter to the left of that house at the top of the hill.

96-06-25 - At the mouth of the Saguenay R.
Looking N.W. up the Saguenay R. from the ferry to Tadoussac.

96-06-25 - view of Tadoussac from our campsite.
(n33p82) Tents pitched. Justine fed. Atmospheric environment studies from a perfectly situated park bench: Middle-class clouds. Self-made, firm boundaries between neighbours, democratic peer group, but keeping a discreet distance from each other. Contrast huddled proletarian overcasts, undifferentiated grey masses. Or, aristo thunderheads, domineering, egoistic, powerful, gobbling up lesser fogs for breakfast.

96-06-26 Wednesday (n34p16) To the sand dunes for a picnic lunch. Down a steep path to the beach. Many blackflies. Once on the beach, the breeze keeps them away. Justine is a problem in perpetual motion, but at last she has some clean sand to eat. Parenthood is not for dreamy people who prefer to make sketches or scribble in notebooks.

It's 6 km back along the beach to Tadoussac. Must do this as a hike someday. (Already assuming that we may eventually return here.)

- St. Lawrence R., Maison des dunes beach.
The House of the Dunes is an interpretive centre located in a handsome old stone building some 5 km east on Des Pionniers street. That object in the water on the right is not the conning tower of a submarine.

96-06-26 - Above the beach.
(n33p86) The "dune" is probably a moraine. Above the top is a second dune of finer sand, something like the first "step" in the Escarpment behind our house. We picnic near where the two figures are standing. Later, on our trip aboard the Marie-Clarisse tour boat, we get a lecture about fiords. They always have a dune or gravel bank at the mouth, says the guide.

At 5:07pm, Justine stops raining and floats off on her afternoon sky browse. We take turns sitting on a bench and ogling the view. Even children on the playground slides stop, one hand on the top rung of the ladder, gaping at scenery.

(n34p16) Steaks bien cuit this evening, washed down with Le Girondin Bordeaux mixture. Pretty thin gruel for a hearty biftek like me. What was the Girondist uprising anyway? Doomed to failure if they drank gripe water like this.

Encyclopaedia Britannica 15th ed., Micropaedia, p.556: "Many of the Girondins escaped to the provinces in the summer of 1793 to organize 'federalist' uprisings against the Convention. These failed largely for lack of popular support. With the ruling Montagnards (Pequistes?) adopting a policy of terror, 21 of the arrested Girondins were tried ... and were guillotined ..."

Yes, well ... not much risk of a federalist uprising in T'sac, where the district's summer pageant is entitled: "La Fabuleuse Histoire d'un Royaume."

96-06-26: probably Wednesday (n33p80) Discussion of what a "howling wilderness" might be in French. The metaphor would probably sound bizarre. Un ... camping ... hurlant? With an unhappy camper about 10 months old.

96-06-26 - The howling wilderness.
The term "howling wilderness" probably comes from that classic Canadian novel, The History of Emily Montague (1769), where some travellers are stranded on the N. shore of the St. Lawrence in the 1700s, surprisingly assisted by a band of Indians whose leader gives a speech right out of a Greek play: Are you not mortals like us, that we should fail to aid you in the distress that we ourselves know so well?

Years after this trip, found a quote from The Aeneid that evoked a similar impression of common humanity with strangers, recognised amidst danger and hardship.

Aeneas and his men land in the potentially hostile country of Queen Dido. They view the sculptures of some temple and recognise familiar scenes. (Edited. DR)
He halted, and said, with tears:
What place is there,
Achates, what region of earth
not full of hardships like ours?
See, Priam! Here too virtue
has its rewards, here too
There are tears for great events,
and mortal things touch the heart.
Lose your fears: our fame
will bring you benefit.

96-06-26 - Cloud effects.
Cloud effects, above, at the mouth of the Saguenay. Ice crystals in the top layers: soft, fuzzy. Streamers of rain falling on St. Catherine Bay. The effect of rain is heightened by actual raindrops falling on the sketches and blurring the ink.

After last night, the sun and clouds today seemed too good to be true ... like fiction. Yes Margaret, even in a dysfunctional universe, things sometimes do turn out for the best.

After dinner and a very crackly campfire, we turn in. A mysterious band of clear sky in the west promises better weather. Sometime after crawling into our nylon cocoons, it gets very bright outside. The moon also rises over Tadoussac. But somewhere in the middle of the night, rain begins again and drizzles till after breakfast next morning.

96-06-27 probably Thurs (n33p83) Cool breezes this morning, whitecaps chasing each other down the Saguenay. A large bulk carrier wallows downriver heading for the St. Lawrence.

(n33p84) Think I'll sit on our park bench this morning and prepare my Environmental Philosophy lecture on scenic outlooks. Integration of elements: sky, water, land. Here, the existential art work is especially well done. (Let's hear it for the Great Spirit.)

Commerce and industry (the bulk carrier); habitation (Tadoussac), a snug harbour tucked into a small cove; religion (church spire signifying aspiration, eternity); pleasure, enjoyment (sandy beach with strollers, kite fliers, tour boats); nordicity (birch trees on the margins, common experience with Swedes, Norwegians, Finns).

No element dominates the others; contrast a more alpine scene. Stunning mountains have their own interest but may seem overwhelming. Another key element: the age-worn rocks. (Allo, Cliche?) Once tall mountains, now the glaciated bones of some ancient landscape.

Even a wreck on the beach below the boardwalk symbolises (not too painfully) mortality, vanity, hubris rebuked. In short, human activity, for once, in a clearly visible and supportive context. Metaphysics for Dummies.

96-06-27 - House in Tadoussac.
Interesting doo-dads on the dormers. ..

96-06-27 - Hotel Tadoussac, from the campground.
Has a slightly olde worlde, or perhaps a romanesque look in this sketch.

96-06-27 - 239 rue Des Pionniers.
Plaque: Magasin P. Cid, 1892.

96-06-27 - Hotel Tadoussac.
Aunt Muriel and uncle Fraser stayed here, so we learn, on our visit to Pte. Claire before returning home. Nathan and Lison go inside, but the interior has been redone in a less imaginative style than the outside. A nice collection of historical photos is on display. The structure has been rebuilt several times and used to have towers on the ends of the two wings.

The above picture of the Hotel Tadoussac was first sketched in pencil to get down the proportion and complex details. The outline was later inked and "colourized" back in Montreal at N.and L.'s place. The effect is more eye-catching in colour, but I still like the "slighter" sketches done on the spot in pen.

96-06-27 - The Mouth of the Saguenay.
96-06-27: definitely Thursday today (n33p91c). The mouth of the Saguenay from the deck of the Pierre Chauvin tour boat. We lose one engine on the way out, back to port for a refund. Am looking over the stern of the tour boat at our life-boat insurance, just in case the other engine gives out.

Pierre Chauvin was a good buddy of Champlain and had a house at Tadoussac in 1600. (See map.)

Lison sees a whale leaping. I'm concentrating on my sketchbook and miss the action.

96-06-28 - On the Marie Clarisse, a "tall ship".
Sketched on the spot, coloured later. These drawings make a hit with the tour guide who is effusive in praise and wants to see the whole sketchbook. Have been surprised several times at how fascinated bystanders get with the work of artists. (Even artistic wannabbes.)

The schooner Marie Clarisse started life in 1923 at Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Originally the Archie F. Mackenzie, she was first used to transport freight to Newfoundland.

96-06-28 - The Valere-Elise.
(n33p90) Meanwhile back in T'sac harbour: this halcyon bird, above, nests on the calm waters, looking picturesque. A shrimp boat, the locals call it. Shrimps in the Gulf of St. L.? Not a place for swimming unless you are a polar bear, warns our tour guide on the Marie Clarisse. So don't, passengers are respectfully requested, climb up on the rigging.

To continue, the Archie F. Mackenzie was damaged off Newfoundland in 1944, refitted and sailed out of that country before it became a province in 1949. She was rebuilt in 1959 and in 1968 sold to a Cap Rouge company. Sank again in the spring of 1976 after damage by spring ice. Pumped out, she was refitted at Isle au Coudres and relaunched under her new name in 1977. In 1978, she functioned as a training ship before being acquired by the Dufour family of Isle au Coudres for the promotion of its hotel and tourist ventures on the St. Lawrence.

And here we are, enjoying one of those ventures right now.

96-06-28 - The Marie Clarisse on the Saguenay.
(n33p93) Cap. Bertrand at the helm. Femme de Mystere (W.O.M./F.D.M) observing the passing scene. Justine, in loco parentibus (tr: Justine is in the mini-van driving her parents loco.)

96-06-29 Sat To Quebec City to stay in a motel with hot water. The half-naked lady from Camping de Gouffre would have loved it.

96-06-30 - 26 Lansdowne Gardens, Pointe Claire
Sunday Visit to the Cliffs. Blasted birch, left (a hard winter). The pine on the right was originally put in as a foundation planting. Dad (Eric Richards) and I spray-painted those clapboards yellow in the late 1940s.

Sketch done while standing in the driveway. Looks so messy at first that I don't want to show it to anyone. Turns out much better than expected.

96-07-01 Mon (n34p16) Back in Ontario again. About 2200 km. total. We cross into U.S. via Hill Island bridge, rte 81 to Pulaski, N.Y.. Find rte 104 west eventually. Follow this all the way to Lewiston. Congestion, traffic lights in Rochester. About 9 hours from Montreal. An extra 40 mins waiting to get across the border, what with the July 1 crowd. Without this delay, the trip would be only slightly longer than the usual Canadian route. The U.S. highways seem much more relaxed than 401/QEW would be on a holiday.

At home and on the journey back, am already feeling nostagic for Quebec. Did quite a bit more drawing this trip. Unfortunately, no sketches of Quebec City. Fewer photos. (n34p18) Am still peeved at the way photography disconnects the process of selecting, composing and taking the picture, from the end process of developing, collating, describing and showing that picture.

96-09-02 - Vintage Ontario.
Back home again.

96-08-05 - Chateau des Charmes winery.

96-08-05 - Chateau des Charmes winery FX.
Note: vers.b, the watercolour effect has been applied. Smoother, less gritty.

96-08-05 It isn't Quebec City, but this is as close as I can get to chateau architecture, this trip. Where did the time get to? C'est a pleurer, Justine.

(n33p95) Spent on things like: attending the Shaw Festival with Wayne and Ann Tompkins: Hobson's Choice. Followed by a wine tasting tour. Late Harvest Riesling, '95 -- rich flavour. Pinot Noir, '95 -- walnut, farm-yard bouquet. (No Chateau Girondin!) Derek, '96 -- insinuations, rumours, innuendoes ... lies.

Not lies, Wayne, my friend. Art!

Editing history:
08-11-29: touch-up.
12-09-11: touch-up.
16-06-16: stylistic, added Aeneid reference.
18-10-11: html touch-up

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