CHAPTER III. FROM THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER TO TICONDEROGA, LAKE CHAMPLAIN.
THE RICHELIEU RIVER. - ACADIAN SCENES. - ST. OURS. - ST. ANTOINE. - ST. MARKS. - BELCEIL. - CHAMELY CANAL. - ST. JOHNS. - LAKE CHAMPLAIN. THE GREAT SHIP-CANAL. - DAVID BODFISH 'S CAMP. - THE ADIRONDACK SURVEY. - A CANVAS BOAT. - DIMENSIONS OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN. - PORT KENT. - AUSABLE CHASM. - ARRIVAL AT TICONDEROGA.
Quebec was founded by Champlain, July 3, 1680. During his first warlike expedition into the land of the Iroquois the following year, escorted by Algonquin and Montagnais Indian allies, he ascended a river to which was afterwards given the name of Cardinal Richelieu, prime minister of Louis XIII. of France. This stream, which is about eighty miles long, connects the lake (which Champlain discovered and named after himself) with the St. Lawrence River at a point one hundred and forty miles above Quebec, and forty miles below Montreal. The waters of lakes George and Champlain flow northward, through the Richelieu River into the St. Lawrence. The former stream flows through a cultivated country, and upon its banks, after leaving Sorel, are situate the little towns of St. Ours, St. Rock, St. Denis, St. Antoine, St. Marks, Beloeil, Chambly, and St. Johns. Small steamers, tug-boats, and rafts pass from the St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain (which lies almost wholly within the United States), following the Richelieu to Chambly, where it is necessary, to avoid rapids and shoals, to take the canal that follows the river's bank twelve miles to St. Johns, where the Canadian custom-house is located. Sorel is called William Henry by the Anglo-Saxon Canadians. The paper published in this town of seven thousand inhabitants is La Gazette de Sorel. The river which flows past the town is called, without authority, by some geographers, Sorel River, and by others St. Johns, because the town nearest its source is St. Johns, and another town at its mouth is Sorel. There are about one hundred English-speaking families in Sorel. The American Waterhouse Machinery supplies the town with water pumped from the river at a cost of one ton of coal per day. At ten o'clock on Monday morning we resumed our journey up the Richelieu, the current of which was nothing compared with that of the great river we had left. The average width of the stream was about a quarter of a mile, and the grassy shores were made picturesque by groves of trees and quaintly constructed farm-houses.
It was a rich, pastoral land, abounding in fine herds of cattle. The country reminded me of the Acadian region of Grand Pre, which I had visited during the earlier part of the season. Here, as there, were delightful pastoral scenes and rich verdure; but here we still had the Acadian peasants, while in the land of beautiful Evangeline no longer were they to be found, The New Englander now holds the titles to those deserted old farms of the scattered colonists. Our rowing was frequently interrupted by heavy showers, which drove us under our hatch-cloth for protection. The same large, two-steepled stone churches, with their unpainted tin roofs glistening like silver in the sunlight, marked out here, as on the high banks of the St. Lawrence River, the site of a village.
Twelve miles of rowing brought us to St. Ours, where we rested for the night, after wandering through its shaded and quaint streets. The village boys and girls came down to see us off the next morning, waving their kerchiefs, and shouting "Bon voyage!" Two miles above the town we encountered a dam three feet high, which deepened the water on a shoal above it. We passed through a single lock in company with rafts of pine logs which were on the way to New York, to be used for spars. A lockage fee of twenty-five cents for our boat the lock-master told us would be collected at Chambly Basin. It was a pull of nearly six miles to St. Denis, where the same scene of comfort and plenty prevailed. Women were washing clothes in large iron pots at the river's edge, and the hum of the spinning-wheels issued from the doorways of the farm-houses. Beehives in the well-stocked gardens were filled with honey, and the strawthatched barns had their doors thrown wide open, as though waiting to receive the harvest. At intervals along the highway, over the grassy hills, tall, white wooden crosses were erected; for this people, like the Acadians of old, are very religious. Down the current floated "pin-flats," a curious scow-like boat, which carries a square sail, and makes good time only when running before the wind. St. Antoine and St. Marks were passed, and the isolated peak of St. Hilaire loomed up grandly twelve hundred feet on the right bank of the Richelieu, opposite the town Beloeil. One mile above Beloeil the Grand Trunk Railroad crosses the stream, and here we passed the night. Strong winds and rain squalls interrupted our progress. At Chambly Basin we tarried until the evening of July 16, before entering the canal. Chambly is a watering-place for Montreal people, who come here to enjoy the fishing, which is said to be fair.