Québec City and Montréal French Trip

Ben Pittman
Last week’s trip to Québec City and Montréal was a huge success. The five-day, four-night trip was open to all current Seventh and Eighth graders and focused on winter adventure and carnival, Canadian and North American history, and immersion in a culture where bilingualism is the norm. Thirty-nine students participated in the trip, guided by six Calvert faculty members, and an excellent full-time tour guide from Prométour – the premier Montreal-based academic and adventure tour company.

The trip started in Québec City with a guided tour of the lower, old town and a great view of the city’s fortification and famous Chateau Frontenac. We proceeded to dinner at a traditional spaghetti house, followed by the carnival night parade where the students witnessed amazing floats and puppets led by the mascot of the Quebec carnival, “Le Bonhomme”.
On day two, students experienced the life and training regimen of a typical early-19th century British solider via an interactive and engaging competition. We then drove out of downtown to visit a replica of a Huron-Wendat villiage, one of the indigenous First Nations tribes in the area. Students gained an appreciation for their way of life both past and present. Students also learned about how the First Nations' matriarchal culture resulted in many different customs. The students enjoyed a typical indigenous lunch and made medicine wheels in the traditional manner. Returning to old Québec, students enjoyed tobogganing down the five-story ice slides next to the St. Lawrence river and had the opportunity to play ice hockey with some local boys and girls. They then proceeded to the winter carnival where they experienced local entertainment, participated in fun activities, and marveled at the ornate hand-crafted ice palace and sculptures. After a hearty meal, the group boarded a ferry across the ice river to get a view of the entire city at night. 

Day three was the outdoor adventure day, complete with dogsledding, snowshoeing, a visit to the impressive Ice Hotel. We had a full afternoon of adventure snow tubing. The day ended at a traditional sugar shack where the group learned about the local industry of maple syrup production. There was singing and dancing to traditional local folk music.

On Day four, the group traveled to Montréal to spend the morning engaged in community service at the largest food bank and community center in Canada. Students lent a helping hand in a variety of ways such as sorting and packaging donations as well as working in quality control. After stopping at the panoramic lookout on Mont Royal, students had dinner and a chance to go ice skating at an outdoor rink in the snow on the banks of the St. Lawrence before going for a swim back at the hotel.

The final day of the trip consisted of a walking tour of old Montréal through freshly fallen snow, a visit to the basilica, time to explore the European-inspired shopping and dining district, and a visit to the museum of archeology and history of the founding of Montréal. The group then made their way back to the airport to return home.

All in all, it was an amazing trip for students and teachers alike. The Middle School looks forward to future education adventures in the years to come.
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.