Quebec City Frescos A Wonderfully Pet Friendly Activity!
We don’t often like to go to the same place twice, so what do you do when family obligations take you back to somewhere you’ve already been more than once? To avoid boredom, you have to think a little outside the box!
We love Quebec City. To say it is beautiful would truly be an understatement. It’s a wonderful place with so much to offer. From the perspective of traveling with a canine however, Quebec City suffers from the same shortage of pet friendly activities as does the rest of Canada and, indeed, most of North America.
But I think I have stumbled upon a fantastic, often overlooked, pet-friendly activity. And, depending on the weather and/or your fitness level, you and your canine companion can do this on foot, by bicycle, or in a car.
I am talking about Quebec City’s outdoor art gallery: the frescos (murals) found throughout Sherbrooke and other neighbourhoods!
I saw a few frescos when I previously visited the historic Old Town of Quebec City, and I heard there were more! So, when we visited again over the holidays, I reminded the bipeds of the murals. We needed something to do that would get us out of the house, but it had to be something that wouldn’t keep us outside too long because it was minus frigid freezing: -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit)!
A little research led us to an app called BaladoDiscovery, available free for iphone/ipad and Android. Simply type “murals” in the app’s keyword search and up comes “Murals of Sherbrooke.” Load the list into your phone and off you go! The tour has 14 points of interest and is just under 5 km long.
Unfortunately, this guided visit is designed to be a walking one and what we needed was something we could do with the car. We wanted to be able to stay warm! So, we saved the app and the upload, to try when we go back in the warmer months and expanded our search for a route that could be done by car.
Our continuing research led us to a site that mapped out three options for touring the frescos: one by car, another by bicycle, and a third on foot. This was what we needed!
Allow me then, Dear Reader, to share with you how we did our tour, in the freezing cold, by car, taking our directions from the suggested list for car or bicycle and making them our own. I hope to do an updated post using the app’s walking tour and/or the rest of the murals in the future, but for now, let us focus on our adventure using our car as a method of transportation. By car is our least favorite way of doing things but the cold has a way of quickly changing your mind!
#1 The Bank of Montreal Mural:
Our starting point was a lesser-known mural on the side wall of the Marie-Guyart Building (1037, De La Chevrotiere), named the “Fresque BMO” because the Bank of Montreal was the major donor for this project.
Inaugurated on the 30th of October 2008, the heart of this 450 square meter fresco is dedicated to 400 years of rich Quebec political history. The fresco pays homage to the city and its history as a political capital since the country’s first days as a colony.
At the centre of the mural is a trompe-l’œil of the façade of the Quebec parliament and various figures that have marked, in their own way, the political history of Quebec. There is a great visitors’ guide sign that gives you the scoop on Who’s Who.
#2 The Gabrielle-Roy Library Mural:
You can find this mural on the back wall of … well, you guess which library! The mural faces Roi Street in the area of Quebec City known as Cité-Limoilou.
Inaugurated in the fall of 2003, this 600 square meter fresco depicts the history of public libraries, with a particular focus on 19th and 20th century history. The scroll at the bottom of the mural contains over 20 citations from literary works by Quebec authors. The citations were not randomly chosen; instead, to ensure the collection reflected “the people’s voice,” the citations were selected through a contest open to the public.
#3 The Highway Pillars Murals:
Possibly one of the most interesting murals is, in fact, a collection of smaller ones – a compilation, if you will. The mural is found on the pillars holding up a busy highway (Dufferin-Montmorency), near the end of Boulevard Charest Est towards Rue St-Joseph, in the Saint-Roch area of the city.
Designed and completed in 2001 to embellish an urban eyesore, the pillars have the following themes:
La Cathédrale et Le Fond marin. (© Hélène Fleury, 2000) – The Cathedral and the bottom of the sea.
Le Conte et La Porte du paradis. (© Hélène Fleury, Denis Jacques et Pierre Laforest, 2001) – Fairytales and the door to Paradise.
L’Horloge. (© Zone-Art, 2001) – The Clock. (I keep wondering how these themes were selected?)
Hommage aux cirques québécois et Le Temple multiculturel. (© Zone-Art, 2002) – Homage to Quebec Circus and the Multicultural Temple.
#4 The Hôtel-Dieu Mural:
Our last fresco took us into the Old City centre. Inaugurated in 2003 and painted on two walls, this fresco was supposed to be on the corner of Charlevoix and La Côte du Palais but the fresco was not easy to find. We went around and around in circles looking for it. How could we not find a 420 square meters large fresco?!
This fresco retells the most significant events in the history of the oldest hospital in North America: l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec (1639). The fresco also details interesting architectural elements used in the past. For us, this was a must see!
We drove around and around, coming back over and over to the same spot where the fresco should have been. Only… it wasn’t there! Sadly, believe it or not, the historic building was torn down and the beautiful mural gone with it. How this could happen in this preserved, historic part of Old Quebec is a mystery. This part of town is fiercely protected.
Our only guess is that there was either a fire or some sort of problem that could not be fixed and made the building dangerous or un-safe. All we saw was a lot of rubble and a big white wall.
By this point of our tour, we were getting hungry and were having trouble staying warm even in the car. But it had been a lot of fun and we promised ourselves we would do this again in the summer either on foot or by bicycle to snap a photo and read up on the history found in the many murals still left to see. What a great learning tool!
As a result of our mural hunt, we started noticing the street art more. Although not murals or frescos, and certainly not sanctioned by the city, we found some graffiti to be absolutely lovely. And although we agree that tagging is a true bane on a city landscape, we do find that thoughtfully created graffiti has its place. So we snapped a few pics of those as well, enjoying the diversity of the local talent.
So, there you have it! We spent about an hour and a half just to see these few, using the car to get around. There are many more frescos to see (14 in total including these and the two I have seen in the Old City) but rumbling tummies and frozen toes made us head home. I have to admit that seeing this has given us a desire to do the grand tour of them all on a warmer day. I do hope we get a chance to do that. In the meantime, I am happy I saw these at least. Well, all but that one. *sigh*
Do you have a really cool mural, fresco or even amazing well done graffiti in your town? Let me know and link to a photo if you have a FB or Flickr account, or something like that! Share this wonderful art!