By Commander Beverly Estock
Ahoy to all my boaty buddies!
Well, here we are in a new year. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.
In the last Commander’s Corner, I was preparing for my trip to Quebec City and the National Conference. I must
tell you that this was one of the most enjoyable National Conferences I have attended. I had visited Quebec City
many years ago, when I was in high school, and was very keen to go back.
The trip had a bit of a rocky start, as we were almost an hour and a half late leaving Vancouver due to a problem
with the forward galley. As the business class passengers must get fed, we had to return to the gate to get it
fixed. I was not too worried, as I had purposely booked a two hour layover in Montreal. However, the fifty or so
passengers who had a one hour layover all missed their connection and ended up being bused to Quebec City, a
three hour trip with no dinner. I tried not to be too smug about my good planning, but it was tough.
For those of you who have not been to a National Conference, the first couple of days (Wednesday and
Thursday) are meetings for the National and District officers. The conference for the “rest of us” starts on the
Friday. I didn’t have to be there until Friday morning, but I flew out early so I had time to play the tourist.
The conference hotel was just outside the gates of the Vieux Ville (Old Town), so right after breakfast on
Wednesday, I headed down the hill and through Porte Saint Louis into the Old Town. My attention was
immediately caught by a row of horse‐drawn carriages offering tours. Of course, I had to take the tour! It lasted
about 45 minutes, and took me around the Plains of Abraham, then through the main streets of the Old Town.
The tour guide was very knowledgeable, and made the tour very enjoyable. Once it was over and I was back on
my own two feet, I knew the basic layout of the city and where I wanted to go. The Old Town of Quebec City is a
UNESCO heritage site, as it is the only walled city remaining in North America. None of the buildings in the Old
Town can be torn down or changed in any way. There are a few buildings that went up in the early parts of the
20th century, but most of it is 17th and 18th century construction.
So, starting down the main street, Rue Saint Louis, I wandered around, taking lots of pictures (I thought). Of
course, when I got back to Vancouver, all I could think was that I should have taken more pictures. I found Holy
Trinity Church, the first Anglican Church in North America, but didn’t take any pictures of the inside. A couple of
stops to buy souvenirs on Rue du Tresors (Treasure Street) and a little shop that I don’t remember the name of,
and it was time for lunch. I found a little bistro, Café Temporel, on a little side street without too many tourists
and had a lovely quiche (of course!). After lunch, and continuing downhill, I ran into a couple from Minnesota,
who were looking for Café Temporel as it had been recommended to them. I felt like quite the tour guide myself,
as I was able to tell them exactly how to find it.
If you go far enough downhill in the Old Town, you eventually end up outside the city walls in the Ville Sous le
Fort (the Town below the Fort). And here, I got lost. I was looking for Rue Bell, as my ancestors had owned the
Bell Tavern on Rue Bell, back in the 17th century. Unfortunately, I came out the wrong gate, and headed off in
exactly the wrong direction. After about an hour of heading the wrong way, I figured out what I had done and
reversed course (yes, I had a map, but the Aids to Navigation were a bit lacking). I found Rue Bell eventually, all
two blocks of it. The tavern isn’t there anymore, but there was a bar just around the corner, so I had a
celebratory glass of wine after tromping the cobbles my ancestors tromped on. Then it was back uphill to the
hotel for dinner.
On Thursday morning, I explored a bit of the city outside the walls. I found, completely by accident, a
government building with an observatory on the top floor. There were great views from all four sides of the
building, and of course, more picture taking opportunities. In the afternoon, I went on the countryside tour
arranged by the conference. Our bus started by going to Ile D’Orleans, famous for strawberries in the summer,
and apples in the fall. The entire island is a heritage site, and building lots cannot be subdivided. That makes
even small houses very expensive, as they are all on large acreages. We got a lesson in telling 17th century French
architecture from 18th century English architecture (French: very low windows, English: not so much). The tour
bus visited a chocolate factory, an apple orchard, and a bakery. We helped out the local economy at each site.
Then we left the island and headed for Les Chutes Montmorency (Montmorency Falls). We took the cable car to
the top of the falls, which are higher than Niagara. After that, it was off to La Basilique Cathedrale Sainte Anne
de Beaupre (the Basilica Cathedral of Saint Anne of the Beautiful Port). It’s a huge Roman Catholic cathedral full
of exquisite mosaics, and supposedly the site of many miracles.
Okay, so now we had to get down to business. Friday was a full day Squadron Commander’s meeting. The
morning was just for Squadron Commanders, with the afternoon for Squadron and District Commanders.
Although I had been thinking that a full day meeting was going to be a bit much, it was full of so much great
information that it didn’t seem to be too much at all. What did we talk about? The new membership structure:
we just have one class of members now. Our current Junior Associates who are under the age of 19 cannot be
members, but will be reinstated as members as soon as they are old enough. They can still participate at the
Squadron level as Associates, just not as members.
There was also much discussion about the new governance structure mandated by the new Not‐for‐Profit
Corporations Act: instead of the Squadron Commander carrying the votes of the Squadron to National, each
member now has a vote. For some issues, this will mean that all the members who show up at the AGM will vote
on an issue. For bigger issues (e.g. those affecting the structure of CPS), all members will vote via electronic
polls. There was some grumbling by District Commanders who are no longer Directors of CPS. However, for the
rest of us, it means our organization is now more democratic.
In between meetings and discussions, I checked out the new boating simulator. PMD is purchasing one for the
use of our Squadrons, and it will be on display at the Vancouver Boat Show.
Friday night was a theme costume party, with most guests dressing up as 17th century inhabitants of Nouvelle
France. The food was fabulous (the best conference food I’ve had anywhere). Saturday was the AGM, and more
exploration of the Old Town. I found the house that my friend Gisele was born in on Place Royal in the Town
below the Fort. Then – another party with fabulous food in the evening. After the second night, the chef was
introduced to us and received a standing ovation! The highlight of my evening? After practicing my French all
week, I nailed the accent perfectly for once, and the hotel bartender thought I was French.
Sunday meant flying home. Again, my two hour layover in Montreal meant I had a relaxing dinner before the
second leg of my flight. Some of the other folks? Their plane was late leaving Quebec City and they almost
missed their connections – again!
All in all, a very memorable trip.
Bev Estock, Commander