Quebec City Tour: Rue Couillard


One of my favourite streets in old Quebec is rue Couillard. It is narrow, mostly residential, and less than 0.2 km long. The street lies on a wavy tangent off the main tourist strip. There are surprises around every bend: New France cottages built in the 1600s, Victorian-era monasteries, and early 20th-century apartment buildings. Let’s go for a walk.


Rue Couillard does not begin on an auspicious note. On one side lies a disneyfied version of an Irish pub. A banal tourist kitsch shop lies across the street. Keep moving.

Once you’ve made it beyond this point, a few modest 19th century mansard residential blocks appear to one side.


On the other side is a youth hostel, a student bar called L’Ostadamus, and Le Temporel, the finest café in Quebec City.

Le Temporel is one of the few places in the old city where the clientele is made up largely of locals. I usually go on weekends to read the newspaper. I am a big fan of their homemade croissants with melted emmenthal running out from all sides and fresh strawberry jam.


Across the street from Le Temporel is the former home of Calixa Lavallée, who wrote the music for “O Canada.” Let’s keep walking.


One block down lies the home of François-Xavier Garneau (far right), whose Histoire du Canada was a direct response to Governor Durham’s claim that the French-Canadians were a people “without history and without literature.” Looking up the cross street, the clock tower of city hall peeks out of the background.


Looking down from rue Couillard reveals another panorama: the smokestacks of the pulp and paper mills on the Saint-Lawrence river.


A little further down lies the main convent of the Soeurs du Bon Pasteur, a religious order founded in 1849 to help poor women who fell into prostitution. There are fewer nuns than before, with the average age being well over 70.

The next block has a few older homes. The McKenna house, with its steep red roof, is an example of architecture from the New France period. It probably dates back to the 1600s.

Couillard street leads to one of the classical stone buildings of the Séminaire de Québec, founded in 1663 and now part of Univesité Laval. From this point on, the street’s name changes to rue Hébert and continues along a straight line to the edge of the fortifications.

This entry was written by Patrick Donovan , posted on Saturday March 03 2007at 07:03 pm , filed under Canada and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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