Monday, March 18, 2002

Were you ever in Québec

By VIA Rail to Québec City - we have been wondering how average resale house prices in Montréal contrive to be half those in Toronto ($251,508 vs $128,851 in 2001). Here they are even cheaper, with a small ads TV channel selling property at mouth watering prices.
The entry into Québec City is breathtaking, crossing the St Lawrence river at high level, turning sharp left along the gorge and looping round into the city and across the St Charles river before arriving at the Gare du Palais.
The station is a gem. Two plaques tell the story:
"The Gare du Palais was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to the designs of architect Edward Prindle. Inaugurated in 1915, it was restored in 1985 by VIA Rail, with the greatest of respect for the historical building's "Chateau-style" architecture and decorative elements.
On the exterior of the building, above the arches are the arms of seven great names in the history of Québec: Montmagny, Tracy, Beauharnois, Montcalm, Wolfe, Frontenac and Talon. At the base of the turrets are cartouches bearing the French fleur-de-lys, the Tudor rose, the Scottish thistle and the Irish shamrock. Inside the ticket counter, staircases, lighting fixtures, clocks, benches and other elements have retained their original appearance. The Gare du Palais is owned by the City of Québec under a seventy year lease. In January 1993 it was declared a heritage railway station by the Department of Environment of Canada."
"Le 8 Novembre 1985 Québec a salué le retour des trains de voyageurs, absents de son center-ville depuis 1976 et la récouverture de la Gare du Palais."
Amusingly a stained-glass map of North America in the ceiling has been wrongly installed, appearing back to front to travellers but no doubt correct to those flying past in a helicopter.

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