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A view of Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs

« Venise a ses gondoles, Miami ses palmiers, la France ses monuments, les tsiganes leur musique, et moi qu’est-ce que j’ai, peuple jeune, dynamique, que voit donc l’étranger quand il arrive ici?

Nous autres c’est les poteaux, poteaux de téléphone. Il y a en quatre dans ma cour, pis c’est une toute p’tite cour. Deux milles le long de ma rue, qui est une toute p’tite rue. Quatorze millions sur l’île, une île parmi bien d’autres. »

- Félix Leclerc

[Venice has its gondolas, Miami its palm trees. France has its monuments and the gypsies their music. And me, young and dynamic people, what do I have, what does the foreigner see when he comes here?

For us it’s the poles. The telephone poles. There are four in my yard, and it’s a tiny yard. Two thousands along my street, which is a very small street. Fourteen millions on the island, an island among many others.]

One can suppose that the island the famous singer-songwriter-poet-writer-and-activist is talking about is the island of Montréal. Here are several telephone poles on another island, likely one that could figure in his list of "many others": l’Île Verte, or the Green Island. This island is located in the St. Lawrence estuary roughly 465 km from Montréal, and obviously it has little in common with Montréal, except perhaps the many utility poles! The island has only 60 or so permanent residents (there is no school and the small ferry has a very irregular schedule dependent on the tides). The demographic decline likely began in the 60s with the end of the auto-subsistence agriculture, and the rural landscape has not changed much since then. (Although the pretty church has burned down, hit by lightning during a January storm if I remember right; rather unusual considering the freezing temperatures at that time of the year.) The 11,2-km2 island is long and narrow, with most of the houses located on the warmer and less windy south side (i.e. on the main land side). [The St. Lawrence surface waters are very cold in the region, even in summer, due to large tides and a sudden rise of the bottom forcing deep waters upward. Satellite photos clearly show the permanent spot of cold water.] Given its untouched charm and tranquility, Île Verte is a very pleasant place for walking and bicycling. Sights and points of interest include the oldest lighthouse on the St. Lawrence, smoke houses from decades ago, old wayside crosses, nice cafés where to recover, a large proportion of forested land, and proximity with the St. Lawrence offering superb sunsets and occasional sights of aquatic birds and marine mammals. That being said, what a strange name for a municipality: Our-Lady-of-the-Seven-Pains!

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Additional Photos by Claude Belanger (cebe) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 163 W: 13 N: 302] (1467)
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