Sunday 12 October 2014

But at least I learned that KFC in French is PFK...

To be fair, if you come to a small city in the middle of a long weekend, on the Sunday, at the end of the tourist season, you shouldn’t really be disappointed that there’s not much going on. It sure was pretty quiet today on the streets of Sept-Iles, on the northern side of the St Lawrence Seaway, even though it was a beautiful sunny day. Cold, though, I thought – but since it has got as low as -42 degrees here (as guide Rod said, in his curiously Fargo-esque accent, “doesn’t matter whether that’s Celsius or Fahrenheit, hey”) then I imagine the locals were finding +7 pretty balmy.

Certainly, on my long, long walk around the town today – five miles, altogether, is the informed estimate – I did notice some houses with their front doors wide open to what felt to me like a bitter wind; and the greetings I got were all bright and cheery as I stumped along with my hands thrust deep into my jacket pockets. Hardy souls – you’d need to be, in a place where the harbour freezes over, and the first snow isn’t far away now. But it seems that’s exactly what they are here, outdoorsy and active, and life in Sept-Iles is all about getting out there, hiking, canoeing, snow-shoeing and hunting.
Animals are fair game, literally, but they are a lot more protective of their children, to judge by this startlingly gruesome sign. I saw it after walking through the Reservation part of town, where the Innu people live in small, plain houses and their kids and dogs roam the streets, enjoying their freedom.

It was good, finally, to get back to the Silver Whisper’s warmth and comfort after hours tramping the streets and not finding much there of interest – to be fair, the reconstructed Trading Post was well presented and interesting, and the Innu museum closed, and the waterfront was pretty and neat – to afternoon tea with a tea menu, tiered cake-stand and scones, a cheery game of Trivial Pursuit, and a red sunset behind a headland with a lonely house and a lighthouse.

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