Ile d'Orleans Attractions
A few kilometers downstream from Québec the Île d'Orléans splits the St Lawrence waterway into two. 35 km (22 mi.) long and 9 km (6 mi.) wide the island has kept its rural character almost intact.
Despite a recent influx of prosperous Québécois in search of their own small haven of peace, life on the island still evokes something of the pioneering spirit of the earliest colonists of New France.Jacques Cartier originally christened the island the "Isle of Bacchus" (having found wild grapes there, so the story goes). Later it was renamed in honor of the Duke of Orléans. The Marquis de Roberval visited the island in 1542, and Samuel de Champlain in 1608, but the first settlement by Europeans only began after 1648. Colonization was completed under Bishop Laval.In 1759 the British General Wolfe attempted to mount his assault on Québec from the island but was repulsed by Montcalm's French.A steel suspension bridge linking the island to the mainland was built in 1935.There are six delightful villages on the Île d'Orléans well worth visiting.
The parish of St-François occupies the north-east tip of the island, from where the much smaller Île Madame and Île-aux-Réaux are plainly visible lying a little way offshore. In 1759 the village church, built in 1734, was used as a hospital for the wounded. The church was damaged by fire in 1988. There are fine carvings to admire in the interior.
Further to the north-east of Île d'Orléans stands the village of St-Jean, its church dating from 1732. The village's major attraction however is the Manoir Mauvide-Genest, a 1735 manor house complete with valuable period furniture.The history of St-Jean includes a long tradition of boat production.
Ste-Famille, on the north-west side, is almost certainly the oldest European settlement on the island of Île d'Orléans.Largely a farming community, Ste-Famille maintains a large number of old stone houses.
In the early days of French colonization Huron Indians, converted to Christianity by Jesuit missionaries, established a retreat on the island of Île d'Orléans, building a chapel at the south-western end in 1651. It was from here that the island was settled by French colonists.
St-Laurent d'Orleans, Canada
St-Laurent, on the east side of Île d'Orléans, was founded in 1675, though the present church dates only from 1862. This is where General Wolfe came ashore in 1759 to set up his headquarters.
On the way back to the mainland from Île d'Orléans, the road passes through the village of St-Pierre. The church was built in 1717. Wood carvings by the artist Vézina on the altar and pulpit also date from the 18th c.
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