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Our Shared Heritage Tour
Notre Patrimoine Le Long des Voies Navigables
 
Schooner Lois McClure | SHIP'S LOG
MEET THE CREW
Peter Huber
Peter Huber 
 
Peter is a long-time member of the Museum who also volunteered extensively during the construction of the Lois. He was a member of the crew when Lois during her New York and Erie Canal journies.  For many years, Peter has enjoyed building, repairing, and sailing a variety of boats. Peter teaches in an alternative high school in Essex Junction, Vermont. He and his wife, Laura, reside in Monkton and enjoy sailing Lake Champlain aboard their sloop, Evonce.


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Montreal Part II | July 18

Peter Huber
 
Montreal 18 July--23 July 
 
I arrived late Friday afternoon after long bus trip from Burlington and a short hike from central bus station on Rue Maisonneuve. The long ride was made easier by the anticipation that once again I would be joining the Lois during one of her historic voyages. It has been a joy and a privilege for me to have participated in our previous trips, so I knew I could expect that the pursuit of our educational mission, as well as the camaraderie of the crew, would provide a rewarding experience during my week-long stay. To focus myself for the days ahead, I reflected on the important role Montreal has played in Vermont's history, including the Native Peoples at Hochelaga, the early French settlements of our region, the ensuing military conflicts, and ultimately, the more recent commercial history-the subject, of course, of Lois' presence here.
 
View of Montreal from the Bow of Lois McClureView of Montreal from the bow of Lois McClure. Photo by Peter Huber.
 
Lois was berthed at Port d'escale in the heart of Old Montreal  (Vieux Montréal), action central for tourism in the city. For those familiar with Montreal, we were berthed  near Rue Jacques Cartier. Old Montreal is famous for its museums, churches, architecture, restaurants, bike path, and splendid view of the waterfront. Lois' location not only offered us, and our many visitors, an excellent view of the cityscape, but also provided ready access to the water-front esplanade along the Old Port. Port d'escale was fitted with the best shore side accommodations I believe we have ever encountered, including excellent support staff, a laundry, and brand new showers and heads.  
 
In addition to working with regular crew, it was a pleasure to meet Jean Belisle, his family, and other resident volunteers, who at every turn offered keen perspectives on the city's history and culture as well as delightful conversation, excellent interpretation and warm, welcoming friendship.  Our mission here could not have succeeded without the enthusiastic and generous efforts of these fine folks in providing informed interpretation for our many visitors. And, despite the mix of sun and showers, we met some 3,000 of them on Saturday and Sunday alone. As is the case everywhere, we were greeted with interest and enthusiasm. Many of our guests wondered how a vessel could reach Montreal from the waters of Lake Champlain. Others were surprised to learn that our shared history includes commercial trade conducted in craft such as Lois. They were often impressed to learn that Lois had visited New York and traveled the length of the Erie Canal. Still others share accounts of their personal maritime histories. One appreciative visitor shared that, in his work with the World Food Programme, he had just returned from delivering food to hurricane-struck villagers along the Nicaraguan coast, via the sailing craft traditionally used in that region. 
  
Shore time afforded me the opportunity to explore the waterfront. I found my way to the entrance to La Chine canal, now a greenway park and bike path, where I envisioned Captain Bartley managing his vessel through what was then solely a commercial waterway. Nearby, one finds Pointe à Callière, the archeological museum of Montreal. This fascinating exhibit includes not only the physical exploration of the city's foundation, but connects underground to the Old Custom's House, which contain offices Bartley was sure to have visited as part of his business here.  The Château Ramezay Museum provides a colorful examination of Montreal's history, including docents in period costume, one of whom later visited Lois, still in costume.  One of Montreal's oldest churches, Notre Dame de Bonsecours features lamps in the form of model ships. These were offered as votive candles by grateful sailors who had been saved from the clutches of the deep. I was lucky to get a solo tour of the Sedna IV, the 150-foot, 3-masted schooner that spent the 2005 season in the Antarctic ice, researching the effects of global warming there. The vessel is currently on exhibit, but future plans include studying the impacts of global warming along equatorial waters. Among its many interesting features were a well-equipped shop, a medical station, and a spiral staircase connecting the bridge to a lower deck.  
 
Captain Taylor was presented with a schooner-rigged cake!
Captain Roger Taylor was presented with a schooner-rigged cake! Photo by Peter Huber.
 
Aside from successfully achieving our chief purpose in sharing regional history with our northern neighbors, a defining moment for this leg of the journey was the spectacular dinner provided for us by Jean Belisle and his family at their home not far from the Atwater market area.  The delectable offerings included hors d'oeuvres, lobster, succulent pepper steak, and a variety of delicious wines and cheeses. Dessert was the pièce de résistance, a spice cake topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries---decorated with masts and sails-schooner-rigged, course! This was presented to Captain Taylor while family and guests joined in an energetic rendition of "Il etait un petit navire". Jean also presented Roger with a lovely sailing ship model. The delightful repast was finished with the sampling of a zesty and potent 125-year old French liqueur, originally a gift to Jean's family many years ago. Jean, merci à vous et votre famille pour le merveilleux dîner!
 
One of the joys of these trips is the special encounters one has with visitors. On my initial arrival I met Sylvain, a man of remarkable vitality. He was standing on the esplanade, overlooking Lois, and with camera in hand, he vigorously insisted that I take his picture with the boat. When I summoned up my best French to explain that he could go aboard for a visit, he was overjoyed. Sylvain returned during the next several days, delighting in every detail on deck and below. At the end of his final visit, he insisted on a picture with the entire crew. «Il n'est pas un problème, Sylvain!» We presented him with a Lois cap and later mailed him LCMM brochures. As an educator, I am reminded that we teachers often never really know the effects of our lessons. As crew members on Lois, we are all educators; I think all of us understood that we made the kind of impression on Sylvain we intend for all visitors. As well, the memory of Sylvain's passionate interest will remain as a vibrant and important lesson.

July 23
Prior to our departure, Roger informed us at the traditional ship's meeting that, sadly, our last opportunity to sail off Lake Champlain during this trip had been squelched by foul wind. As Roger put it, "Welcome to the c'est la vie cruise. Just point her into the wind, because that must be where we need to go." 

 


  

 

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