A River Runs Through It – Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, Canada

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I tell you this with hesitation. And I tell it happily, too. It is about a place I know well; one that is full of curious equivocations; somewhere half serene, half rugged, on the lip of a body of water that is half river, half sea. I think everyone should know about it for it holds so much beauty, so much Canadian history, but then again, another part of me wishes people might stay away, so it will remain a secret.

And yet it’s a secret only to the modern world, because in an older one, it was well known; famous, even. It was where many in the 19th and early 20th centuries went to find their recreation and traditions of summer, partly because the river – in this case, the St. Lawrence River – was nature’s easy, wide-open highway that took passengers to hundreds of special places along its shores. I often think of the St. Lawrence as a deep incision into the body of the land, exposing its innards, all its idiosyncrasies and unexpected treasures. But that description is only half-right – true geographically, but not in its suggestion of violence. In this part of the province of Quebec, bounded by the St. Lawrence, where it is wide like the sea, there is only tranquility.

– Sarah Hampson in The Globe and Mail

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The Gaspe Peninsula has an extraordinary mountain environment. The Chic-Chocs and McGerrigle Mountains cross the region. Among them, Mont Jacques Cartier is the second highest peak in Québec. The altitude of these mountains deeply influences the climate that moulds the landscape and creates a diversity of species unique to Québec, and even the world. Arctic-alpine plants and tundra landscapes form a habitat for a herd of woodland caribou, the last representatives of this species south of the St. Lawrence.

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“Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration.”

– Isaac Walton

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“What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”

– Hal Boyle

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“I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land. Even the greatest rivers- the Nile and the Ganges, the Yangtze and he Mississippi, the Amazon and the great grey-green greasy Limpopo all set about with fever trees-must have been no more than trickles and flickering streams before they grew into mighty rivers.”

– Aidan Chambers, This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn

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“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world´s great floods and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

– Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It 1976

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“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.”

― Laura Gilpin

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“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

– Henry David Thoreau

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“Fly fishing is the most fun you can have standing up.”

– Arnold Gingrich, 1969

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“For the supreme test of a fisherman is not how many fish he caught, nor even how he has caught them, but what he has caught when he has caught no fish!”

– John H. Bradley, “Farewell Thou Busy World”, 1935

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“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.”

– Steven Wright

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“Some act and talk as though casting were the entire art of fly fishing, and grade an angler solely by the distance he can cover with his flies. This is a great mistake and pernicious in it´s influence. Casting is but a method of placing a fly before the trout without alarming it and within it´s reach. It is merely placing food before a guest. The selection of such food as will suit, and so serving it as to pleasure a fastidious and fickle taste, still remain indispensably necessary to induce it´s acceptance.”

– Henry P Wells “Fly-Rods and Fly Tackle” 1885

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“A bad day’s fishing is better than a good day at work.”

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“Fly-fishers are usually brain-workers in society. Along the banks of purling streams, beneath the shadows of umbrageous trees, or in the secluded nooks of charming lakes, they have ever been found, drinking deep of the invigorating forces of nature – giving rest and tone to over-taxed brains and wearied nerves – while gracefully wielding the supple rod, the invisible leader, and the fairy-like fly.”

– James A. Hensall, MD, 1855

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“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.“

– Marcus Aurelius

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“There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.”

– Paul O’Neil, 1965

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Sit by a river. Find peace and meaning in the rhythm of the lifeblood of the Earth.

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“There is certainly something in fishing that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit, a pure serenity of mind.”

– Washington Irvin

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