A snow thematic

Quebec City Travel Blog

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April 11

I landed in Quebec city slightly after 3am, what a rough time. Once again Continental Airlines let me down in NY. There was also a Air Transat flight landing at the same time as us so I rushed out of the plane, as I was sitting in front and to the custom. So I was at the beginning of the long queue at least and I was so tired and expecting that they probably would be as annoying with immigration as they were last time I landed here.

Luckely immigration went better this time, I said I wasn't living here anymore and for the reason I was visiting, I gave them my invitation letter for the exam of Saturday, which is sent by their employer. So I didn't receive useless questions this time and even a good luck.

I got my bag quick too as our continental flight bags were coming out first then the last check and they let me out immediately. At last I won't have to open all my bag to show them that I simply bring nothing of value and only books and town planning pamphlet.

So I came out and my father was there, so we walked to the car and drove home to Lac-Sergent.
Once home, I opened and cleared my bags a bit and had a sandwich with my mother who just got up. Then I went for some sleep in the meantime.

I was up again by the morning, so it was definitely a short night.

I went with my father to Quebec city but before that we passed to Cap-Santé to see my old employer. That was great, discussing about the profession and the project going on. After this we went to get a quote for the insurance which I didn't buy immediately. Then we didn't know what to do and my father wanted to go wait at the Wal-mart that my mother comes, that pissed me off, no way I was coming over to Canada to kill time at Wal-Mart. So I got him to drive to an old mall situated downtown and from there I could have a short walk to the job fair which was going on. Naturally, that job fair was exposing only manual jobs and nothing for university graduate. As it has always done in Quebec city. So it is always a pain and annoying when you look for work while being graduate.

My mother joined us and we went to eat at the restaurant, I noticed that the price of food has so gone up. It is incredible. Where is the time that you could eat for a 10$, not the final bill was nearing 60$. And the price of Gas which is rounding 1.20$/liter. The salaries though are remaining at an incredible low level. This is one shit side of Canada.

Then afterwards we simply went home.
April 12

Woah, a snow storm today. I was up early to go to the city for the main reason why I came home at first place. Then I looked at my paper before realising it was saying one hour earlier than I had expected. Shit, I was late! It was stormy and snowy! I was going to be even more late, all that travel for nothing.
I didn't want to drive in those conditions either. Finally my father got his clothes on and we jumped into the car in a hurry after swiping the snow off the car, the road condition were indeed bad. Though it is once in the car that I re-read my paper and noticed it said simply Welcoming starting at 8.30. So hopefully still a good hour before the exam starts. Now we could relax more while on the way.

Dad drove me to the University where the exam was going to be attended. I was passing the entry exam for the Federal government, more especially to get a post for the Custom offices. Eh well, many people were also passing that exam and once the exam started it was going like shit. It is really not a bright or of any use exam, divided in 5 parts and made by psychologue it absolutely does not verify any useful element nor competence. First you have 4 minutes to classify alphabetically or by increasing some row of data ... there are 15 questions as such (well 15 questions on every thematic), easy indeed, but 4 minutes goes too quick. I didn't manage to have time enough. Then you have arithmetic, something like 30 seconds to solve 2735 divided by 67 multiplied by 43 ... all in your head. Doesn't our famous government know yet of the calculator or the computer?
I think I didn't even manage to answer a single one of those questions. The other thematic aren't of any more use. So that is on what any specialist working in any field of strong competence for the Canadian government is based on. So you could be a total competent Nuclear Engineer but still fail and that will be the deal decision of your employment for a ministery.
I failed the provincial one by one point in the past, which means you can't be taken into consideration for job application then. I fear I won't pass the federal one either. Most obviously I probably have to not keep high hope about that. Might I specify that my profession exists mainly through public employer.
I think my future is screwed!

Municipalities are my only remaining possibility.

So I came out of this exam which last about 75 minutes quite enraged, knowing that I would fail and that the only possibility for me to ever do it again is to be called for it and also wait 180 days.

Why do I feel that everything in the world is meant to make my life impossible. I do not believe anymore that anyone does have it that hard. I can't work abroad, I don't find career abroad or I am not even taken into consideration when applying. I have a level of scolarity and competence quite higher than many and have the chance to learn more and especially to apply my past working experience as well, still people 5 years younger than me gets better position. Which also means they have less experience and less scolarity! WTF!
My conclusion is that I start to be even more happy into the bad thing of others, terrorist would bomb London? Well as long as it clear a bunch off so that opportunities shows up to me!

We went off the campus then, complaining for a certain time before making our way to Charlesbourg where my cousin has bought a house. So we went to visit him and see the house. He also has a daughter now but she wasn't there for the week end. So we went to have a sandwich at Tim Hortons and talked a part of the afternoon, then we simply went back home as I was a bit tired and Martin needed to work more on the house (renovation). On the way back though, we stopped at my brother and just shortly said hi. They were coming to have dinner at home so we left not so long after direction home to the lake.

Tommy, Nathalie and the children came over for the meal and we talked and spent time at home for the evening. Martin then called to go spend a part of the evening there and play poker. I did but really late as I still stayed for a while with my parents and brother. Then I took the car, the snow precipitation were lower and it was just a bit foggy but fine to drive. So I spent the rest of the evening with Baleine, Martin and other friends before returning home to sleep.
Although the driving at night was rough, I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open.
April 13

I woke up early enough today again, and my father was up too. My mother just stayed in bed, which is a pain when we know that we see only a few days a year. So she kept on sleeping about the whole day. My father and me decided to go to Sugar Shack of my uncle, so we drove there, and went to see my aunt first. From there we simply went down to the village, it is in St.Basile to see my cousine and also a bunch of my cousins who are helping with building her house. The work had just starting the day before but it was going quick. The first floor walls were about to be done.

After that we returned to the house to take the snowmobile towards the Maple Sugar Shack (Cabane à Sucre). My uncle was there, as there is an absolute need to stay there as a watchman, matter to add woodlog into the fire for the maple water to boil and take out the syrup. But also to ensure that the Maple Water bassin entry isn't overflowing.

We talked and I also documented the process through pictures. Which some of them are quite good.

For the day, we talked with my aunt, my cousine and my uncle. Later on as the syrup was ready I helped in canning it. This year the quality was so great. It was grade AA syrup. So different than the Grade C available in Europe.

So to explain a bit the process:
By spring, when the temperature runs over zero degree Celsius during the day, the maple tree are starting to 'unfrozen' and the sap starts running in the tree. If you make a tiny hole in the tree the sap water drops out and this sap is sweet. Traditionnally, people would put a bucket and collect the water, you can drink the water directly, every tree taste different and it does taste like sweetened water. Although this one is natural. The water is now collected by tube which drain them to a bassin, then it is pump into the boiler bassin. Once you have collected enough water, you simply need to process it by boiling it. The more you boil the water the thicker it gets, at certain degree it becomes syrup, at more degree it becomes toffy, then sugar then butter etc.. etc..
So this is a very natural product as it does not require any third product, just boiling. Of course from the amount of sap you collect a lot of it disappear through evaporation before you get the syrup. So you get less syrup for the water collected.
Once the syrup gets to its right boiling point in the boiler, it starts to stick to the spoon and sheen to the light, then it is ready to be taken out of the boiler. You just need to pass it through the filter as matter to remove the grain or things that might have fallen into it. Once that is done you can quickly put it into can and it is done. If you eventually want to process it further to make other maple product (sugar - butter - candy) you simply take the badge back and put it in the heating process again once it has coolen down.

The quality of the syrup will vary according to different elements, first of all the season which is linked with the temperature. If the temperature raise too quick or if it is a sunny day or cloudy day will affect the quality and also the amount collected. If the night starts to not freeze back, it will also play a role. The second element is during the process, if you miss the boiling point or wait too long it will affect its quality too.

I guess that should explain the process in general, about the industry now. It is a large investment for family owning a maple shack. They invest all into the capital for their product and the building. Which is more like a cottage, and then also have to work hard for the few weeks during the year for the harvest. This year with the major snow fall there has been, many people had to shovel the snow for 2 weeks prior to start. If the tube are beneath the snow, they will freeze so it won't work.
Then they get their revenue out by selling the products to their family and other people in the surrounding. Only once that is done do they sell the remaining of their production to the government own company which collect the product in barrel and bring it to the warehouse to be processed or sold to other generic companies who might sell it abroad. As the vast majority of the Maple Shack farm are family own, the production is consequent. Therefore, nearly everyone knows personally someone with a maple shack. On my case it is my uncle, so the family gets the product from there and we also only get the high quality product then. The lower quality is always sold to the federation which collect the barrel and this will be what ends up on foreign market. Sorry but we are unlikely to buy the lower grade at first ourselves.

I bought some of this year syrup to bring over to England and give to my friend or especially to make a pancake party later this year. I also bought some other product and my aunt gave me a pot of maple butter too.
We ate at the shack and it is only later by late dusk that we went back home. My uncle was still going to watch at the shack overnight, as today had been a major day and by dusk the trees where still flowing. So much water had entered the bassin.
April 14

My mother didn't go to work today, so at least we got time to talk. We went to Quebec city as matter to buy a travel insurance. I did buy one for six month, it was an hassle but it was done. As regarding the vaccinations, well that was even more of an hassle so we just nevermind.

We then also went to shop in different shop and bought some chocolate bar and CD to burn my computer's data. Then we just talked and ate at Ashton, a  poutine!.

Then the day went by and we drove back home. My uncle stopped by shortly, and he was going to come the next day as well for dinner.

April 15

My last day today, I went with my father to St-Raymond. We did go to eat at Ti-oui snack bar which was opened and otherwise I don't remember much of why we did go there at the first place. We bought some more maple product to bring and I also got some jell-o and other stuff like that.

Later on, back home, I worked on emptying the data on my computer, checked-in for my flight and went outside to enjoy the sun. I talked a bit to my neighbhouring uncle then and also to a friend of my father. Then the day went by, by the evening my uncle was coming over, we talked watched pictures and then I simply went to pack my bag before having a very short night. My uncle left at around 10ish and my flight was departing the following day at 6am which means I need to be leaving by 4am.
So after that very short night my father came to drop me at Quebec city airport and I waited for my flight to depart.
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photo by: peppertm