Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Québec, and Niagara Falls


3/31/07 - 4/7/07

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!


This trip report calls for a little additional explanation.  My trip reports have most often consisted of descriptions of day trips with the Wrangler, occasional weekend camping excursions, and the odd expedition here and there.  All of these trips have to varying degrees included off-highway time.

This trip is quite different in many ways.  It is for all intents and purposes a family vacation. But I think in many ways it stays true to the trips I have written about so far.  There is considerable planning with regard to the route - a place we have previously not visited. 

Of course there is a Jeep involved, albeit not the configuration we usually frequent - but again, the vehicle similarities are no coincidence.  This was a shake-down cruise of the new 2007 Commander Overland we bought just before leaving. 

The epic nature of this trip nearly eclipses any of the trips I have previously described (with the possible exception of the Deep Woods Expedition: Maine trip).  As with any of my outings, this write-up comprises a detailed account of the time spent.

The motivation behind this trip was to experience a stretch of time together as a family visiting places that we hoped would be memorable for all of us.  Maria and I wanted to provide the boys several stops along the way that they would enjoy and remember long after we got home.  At the same time, we wanted to have things to enjoy and remember.  And we all wanted to see and do new things.

My family ancestry reaches back to the French part of Canada.  I grew up surrounded by Acadians, and indeed am a third generation descendant of them, with the exception of my maternal grandmother who was Swedish.  The northern blood runs thick in my veins.  And my inclination for the cooler climates no doubt is encouraged by my genes.  When we considered what we might do for a week while the kids were on spring break, it was Maria who suggested we go to Canada.  Considering she much prefers a hot beach in the Caribbean to anything north of the Mason-Dixon line, I was a little surprised.  But we also owed Tom's god-parents a visit and had been looking forward to seeing them again for some time.  So it was easy enough to decide that indeed, Canada had the makings of a good road trip.

I started out the route planning by mapping the most direct way to get to Newmarket, Ontario (outskirts of Toronto).  This lead us due North and put us crossing the Canadian/USA border at Niagara Falls.  Even though Niagara Falls ranks high in the list of cliché tourist destinations, it made perfect sense to visit it in so much as we would pass it on our way to one of our stops.  So I marked it as one of our overnight stops, though later we would decide it made more sense to visit it on the way home.

Jeep Commander Navigation System

This trip would introduce us to the factory-provided navigation system in the Commander.  Local use of the system had shown that while it will provide considerable navigation support, it has many artificially imposed limitations that make it somewhat frustrating for us to use.  Most notably, it appears to have been "lawyered up" by its refusal to accept input if the vehicle is not in "Park".  This means that nobody, not even a passenger, can feed it requests for a new destination if the vehicle is moving.  We will see in a minute why the manufacturer felt this was necessary...  Read the full review here...

If you are weighing the choice of a factory installed GPS versus one you can buy separately, and you do the kinds of things I do (hiking, camping, geocaching, exploring) get the separate - it is considerably more flexible, can be used away from the vehicle, and overall will provide a better level of service.  If on the other hand you have money to burn, like gas station road maps, and like having a lawyer along on your trip, go for the factory unit.


The story goes into the details of each segment of this trip.  I have not even begun to describe the everyday experiences that became extraordinary:  The food, the sights, the shopping, the people, and our transport.  The whole trip could be described with superlatives, though we did encounter little bumps here and there.  But it's these things that make the good times that much more precious.

Here's the outline - The report is broken into multiple pages as there are over 500 photos from me and another 200 that Ted and Tom made - a real bandwidth choking array if ever there was one!

Saturday, March 31, 2007 - Road-Trip from West Virginia to Newmarket/Ontario, Canada

2007 Jeep Commander Overland

We figured we'd spend a little less than a day with our friends in Toronto and decided to make for Montreal on the second day.  This put us on the road for about six hours, leaving us time in the morning before we left for some sort of activity. 

Sunday, April 1, 2007 - Road-Trip from Newmarket/Ontario, or Montreal, Québec

CN Tower

What better than to visit the CN Tower and take in the view from the top?  So we put this on our plan for day two.  The drive to Montreal would bring us into town in the evening and we'd do little but check in and catch some zzz's.

Monday, April 2, 2007 - Montreal, Québec to Vieux Québec

Montreal Biosphere =- Click to Enlarge

For the third day, we decided to visit the Biosphere in the morning on the way out of Montreal, on the way to Québec City - about three hours away.  This gave us plenty of time to have a leisurely morning, see the Biosphere, and still reach Québec City early in the evening.  After we got to Montreal we squeezed the schedule a little and added a morning stop at the Notre Dame de Montreal Basilica.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007 - Vieux Québec City, L'Érablière du Lac-Beauport

Le Chateau Frontenac - Click to Enlarge

Day Four would be our first day in Québec.  We didn't solidify our plans for Québec before we left home but we knew we wanted to visit the Art Museum to see the Botero exhibition, Chateau Frontenac, a maple sugar farm, the old city of Québec.  With three nights in Québec we left this flexible and organized these activities after we got to town.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 - Vieux Québec City, Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec

Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec

Thursday, April 5, 2007 - Shopping Vieux Québec, Road-Trip to  Montreal, Canada

Rue D'Auteuil

Day six came with our preparation departure from Québec, headed back to Montreal to lay over.

Friday, April 6, 2007 - Montreal to Niagara Falls, Canada

Piranha - Click to Enlarge

In the morning we hoped to visit the Biodome.  After that we'd head down the road to Niagara Falls.

Saturday, April 7, 2007 - Niagara Falls, Geocaching, Home

View from Geocache THE OTHER SISTER GC6001 - Click to Enlarge

On day seven we got up to a stunning view of the falls from our hotel room, visited Goat Island and got up close and personal with the freezing falls, and then drove home to reacquaint ourselves with our everyday lives.


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