In travelling such a distance, tourists and summer residents sought the exoticism of a new environment. They found it here in eastern Quebec’s different language, religion, social setting, culture and climate.
The golden age of eastern Quebec resorts coincided with the Arts and Crafts Movement. Emphasizing the skills of craftspeople and the use of traditional materials, this artistic trend influenced the period’s architectural design and decor. Local woodworking talent was showcased in the building of summer places. Rugs and blankets made by local weavers adorned these homes, while paintings by popular local artists hung on their walls. Among favoured decorative objects were those sold by Aboriginal peoples on the wharves. Local colour was brought into summer residents’ dwellings, furnishings and even clothing.
This attraction to all things local even extended to eating habits. Families bought fresh foods from local farmers and shopkeepers. Hotel and steamboat menus proudly featured fancifully presented home-style fare that often reflected the rural culture of French Canada. Summer residents made many gastronomical discoveries during their stays in eastern Quebec, including sugar pie, pudding chômeur, blueberry upside-down cake and even plain old rice pudding!
In recent years, authenticity has again become fashionable. Today’s tourists can bring home a cutting board made by a local craftsperson, a hand-woven scarf or some traditionally smoked eel, to name just a few of the region’s specialities. Such purchases bring pleasure and support an authentic local culture that has resisted the invasion of the imported items we buy throughout the year.