All That Glitters Is Not Gold

This summer and fall I will be working, lecturing on PEARL MIST on a variety of itineraries including the St Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. The scenery throughout is fantastic, the history of the region is riveting, and for the fall foliage cruises the colored leaves can be spectacular. PEARL MIST is a small, 210 passenger vessel, with all outside staterooms mostly with private balconies, Passengers tend to be folks who are well read, well travelled, have had fascinating life experiences and like the all-inclusive luxury of an intimate vessel. It’s kind of like being on your own yacht with a bunch of friends, and someone else to do all the work and worry about all the maintenance, upkeep, and crew!

One of the fascinating areas we cruise is the Saguenay Fjord, a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed as the glaciers retreated leaving a U-shaped valley that was filled in by the sea. The whole area is a marine national park filled with 1,600 amazing marine life including the white beluga whales, humpback and fin whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals.

And the area has a rich history! The first European to visit was Samuel Champlain who called it the “Kingdom of Saguenay.” Champlain sailed back to France with great tales about this new kingdom he had discovered which, amongst other things, was laden with gold!  He actually took tons of “gold rock” back with him to France.  Unfortunately, the “gold” turned out to pyrite or “fool’s gold.” The little very French town that developed became prosperous through lumber and later processing of aluminum, but along the historical path survived many near catastrophes.

That fascinating history has been woven into a truly fabulous production presented by the towns people each year called, quite appropriately, La Fabuleuse. This truly gigantic community production of the history of Saguenay has been running in July and August for 30 years.  Don’t think of this as community theater … think in terms of something like Oberamegau.  1.3 million people have seen the show, and they do 29 performances in the summer season during July and August, and the rest of the year the entire community is involved in costuming, sets, and two rehearsals every week.  There are 150 actors in the show, almost all volunteers, and counting all the extras who appear, 1,600 total folks in a single show!  It is incredible!