Tag Archives: La Baie

14 September 2019:
Saguenay, Quebec:
Up the Fjord

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

The Saguenay River and the small town of La Baie a few hours sailing up the Saguenay River from the Saint Lawrence is one of the great daytime voyages of the world, in the company of the Norwegian, Chilean, and Alaskan fjords.

Along the way–sometimes accompanied by beluga whales and other sea creatures–we pass abeam of Notre Dame du Saguenay, a statue of the Virgin Mary erected in 1881 by a traveling salesman who fell through the ice one winter and credited his survival to divine assistance.

Notre Dame du Saguenay. Photo by Corey Sandler

Cruise ships have come up the river to see the foliage and the statue for all the time since, and in recent decades the little town of La Baie has become a port of call for a small number of cruise ships each year. What sometimes seems like the entire town comes out to greet guests and escort them to the parks and trails and other enticements.

We reached the town of La Baie at lunchtime, and I went with a group of guests for a return visit to one of the most spectacular pageants anywhere: La Fabuleuese Histoire d’un Royaume, the Fabulous Story of a Kingdom.

More than a hundred local residents plus horses, cattle, a goat, a pig, and a gaggle of trained geese appeared on stage. Few shows on Broadwsy or the West End can match this production for its showmanship.

Here are a few scenes:

Photos by Corey Sandler

You can read more about previous visits to La Baie and the Saguenay fjord by clicking on the tags at the bottom of this blog post.

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

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17 October 2013: the Saguenay River and La Baie, Quebec

The Fabulous Story of the Kingdom of the Saguenay

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

The Rivière Saguenay – the Saguenay River – is one of the major rivers of Quebec, the largest fjord in the province.

Quebec extends nearly 1,200 miles north from the Saint Lawrence to the top of the Ungava Peninsula. I’ve been there: it looks nothing at all like Quebec City or Montreal.[whohit]-FABULEUSE SAGUENAY-[/whohit]

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Silver Whisper at the dock in La Baie, and as seen through a window of the cruise terminal. Photos by Corey Sandler.

The Saguenay drains Lac Saint-Jean in the Laurentian Highlands; that lake is filled by thousands of streams and rivers in the watery north of Quebec. The nation of Canada possesses about 8 percent of the world’s fresh water. Quebec alone has 3 percent of the water reserves.

One of the world’s longest, the Fjord du Saguenay cuts through the Canadian Shield. The huge rocky plateau occupies nearly half of all of the Canada, extending from the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Valley northward to the Arctic Ocean.

The river was an important trade route into the interior for the First Nations people of the area. During the French colonization of the Americas, the Saguenay was a major route for the fur trade.

Few roads connect with the area from the south and east, and only one road connects from the northwest. No roads go north from the area into the wilderness; the last roads north end just a short distance from the city—still within the Lac St-Jean area.

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Cartier arrives in New France. From La Fabuleuse. Photos by Corey Sandler

There are no human settlements due north of Saguenay all the way to the Canadian Arctic islands, except for a few isolated Cree and Inuit villages.

The Kingdom of the Saguenay

Another name for the region, one which was latched upon by the early French explorers . . . looking for riches . . . is the Royaume du Saguenay or the “Kingdom of the Saguenay.”

The grandiose name is either the result of a misunderstanding . . . or a bit of a jest or even a calculated trick put upon the French by the locals.

When the French arrived to colonize New France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they learned from the Algonquins of a legendary kingdom to the north.

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The loggers and the famers arrive in the Kingdom of the Saguenay. From La Fabuleuse. Photos by Corey Sandler

When French explorer Jacques Cartier arrived at Stadacona in 1534, he did not come with a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.

The key to the Kingdom may lie with Chief Donnacona, the leader of the Iroquois village of Stadacona, at the place now occupied by Quebec City.

Cartier kidnapped two of Donnaconna’s sons and brought them back with him to France. They told Cartier of a place they called Saguenay, populated with blond men who were rich with gold and furs.

We have no reason to assume that Cartier or Donnaconna and his sons believed there really was such a place. But the story served as a golden ticket: it gave Cartier something to sell to the king so that he could make another trip to the New World, and it assured Donnaconna’s sons of a trip back home.

La Fabuleuse Histoire d’un Royaume

Since 1988, a cast of more than a hundred locals presents an astonishing pageant that tells some of the story of the Saguenay region. It is presented in a massive amphitheatre constructed by the town. They’ve also built a handsome dock for cruise ships, and each season the number of ships increases.

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The pageant includes some astounding special effects. Photos by Corey Sandler

On this cruise to La Baie, a rare full-day visit, we were able to attend a performance of La Fabuleuse.

There’s Jacques Cartier, Chief Donnaconna, the Generals Montcalm and Wolfe to stage the battle of the Plains of Abraham, loggers, farmers, capitalists, horses, chickens, geese, a trained pig, barn dancers, flappers, twisters, and hippies.

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Modern times to a grande finale. Photos by Corey Sandler.

It’s not Shakespeare, but the Bard of Avon never put on a show that included explosions, lasers, floodwaters, and a field of grass the sprouts on stage.

It was a fabulous pageant, un grand spectacle.

All text and photos copyright Corey Sandler 2013. If you would to purchase a copy of a photograph, please contact me.

 

30 September 2013: Saguenay and La Baie, Quebec

Up the Saguenay River to La Baie, Ha! Ha!

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant SIlversea Cruises

Le Royaume du Saguenay, the Kingdom of Saguenay, is one of the most spectacular watery regions of lower Quebec.

Ha! Ha! Indeed.[whohit]-SAGUENAY-[/whohit]

I’m not making fun of the place. The local First Nations People called the cul-de-sac on one fork of the Saguenay River Ha! Ha!, which we believe means (en francais) a cul-de-sac. The English word is a bit harsh: dead end. But it is anything but dead.

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In the park. Photos by Corey Sandler

The people of La Baie take great joy in the place where they live. Fishing, hunting, skiing, hockey, and greeting the occasional cruise ship that makes an excursion up the river. In 2013, about 20 made the tip, Silver Whisper among them.

In fact, we’ll do it three times this season, returning in a few weeks for a visit inbound from New York to Montreal and again coming back out.

Shhh…don’t tell anyone else or they’ll ruin the place.

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In the park. Photos by Corey Sandler

The morning began as we made a left turn out of the Saint Lawrence near Tadoussac. There we were met by greeters in the river: a pod of beluga whales and a few minkes.

The Saguenay River extends about 100 kilometers or 62 miles in a deep fjord: about 500 to 600 meter high cliffs, and at least that much water beneath our keel.

The pale blue, almost white belugas were known to early mariners as “canaries of the sea” because of the high-pitched whistle they sometimes make. We instead whistled at them.

About two hours later, near Eternity Bay, we passed below Notre Dame du Saguenay, a statue of the Virgin Mary erected in the 1880s by a local salesman giving thanks for his successful escape from a plunge through the ice.

I was up on the Bridge giving commentary and then Captain Luigi Rutigliano executed a graceful full circle in the river in front of the statue as we played Ave Maria on the open decks.

At La Baie, the locals were out on the dock dancing, demonstrating arts, and shaking the hand of every passenger.

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The Silver Whisper at the dock in La Baie. Photos by Corey Sandler

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The autumn sun lights the trees. Photos by Corey Sandler

 

I went with a group of guests to the National Park of Saguenay and we climbed on a fairly technical path up to a spectacular view of the river. Ha! Ha!