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TALE OF TWO CITIES
Part Two: QUEBEC CITY
Québec City is a wholly different experience. Firstly, it is on two geographically distinct levels, a river side (Lower Town or Old Québec) and a plateau (Upper town). Much of the city's notable traditional architecture is located in Old Québec and has a distinct European feel with its stone buildings and winding streets lined with shops and restaurants.

The upper and lower towns are linked by numerous stairs such as the Éscalier «casse-cou» (literally "neck-breaking" steps) or the historic Funicular. The historic city is a challenge for a medical walker with its cobbled streets in Lower Town and the many hills in the Upper Town. It was physically exhausting using the walker.
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Museum of Civilization
The Museum of Civilization is a modest-sized museum with outstanding exhibits. The current museum was designed by Moshe Safdie and opened in 1988. You enter beneath a flight of paper birds and approach a very efficient visitor services desk. There are limited free wheelchairs available and all floors are easily accessible by elevators. The museum generally explores the history of human society in Québec and uses interactive exhibits to draw a connection between the past and the present. We began in Curiosities of the Natural World which was a superior exhibit of humankind’s exploration of our natural world illustrated magnificently with fascinating artifacts, wonderful quotes of early explorers, and a truly spectacular exhibit technique which projected swimming ‘dolphins’ moving around the gallery space. I particularly liked the illustrated note books of Amazon insects by Henry Bates (1848) and a fossil brittle star collected by Mary Anning.
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We next visited People of Québec which traced the 12,000+ years of Quebec from the First Peoples to today. The text was bilingual (French and English) with a decidedly Québecoise perspective of history, which was interesting. The displays were very traditions but the last display was an opportunity to tell the museum what it should be doing next. It was an excellent touch screen interactive and, unlike most surveys, people lined up to share their thoughts. We also visited This is Our Story, a gallery dedicated to the First Nations and Inuit in the 21st century. The stories were compelling and one certainly has opportunity to learn new facts and new perspectives. Very accessible, services for vision and learning assistance, very good restaurant wonderfully decorated with historic signage and weather cocks, retail was varied but good shopping, galleries very good and varied design, interpretation was very good.
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Museum of Fine Art Québec
Museum of Fine Art Québec (MNBAQ) is a complex made up of four buildings, three purpose-built museums and a converted provincial prison. All buildings are connected by tunnels and all spaces are mobility accessible. One enters via the Central Pavilion, which hosts the visitor services, café, etc. and one then generally moves to the Gérard-Morisset Pavilion which houses the museum's historical art collection and the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion which hosts contemporary art, and finally the Charles Baillairgé Pavilion (former prison) houses works of modern art and focuses on three of Québec’s most famous artists, Leduc, Lemieux and Riopelle; personally, I enjoyed Rioppelle the most as I greatly enjoyed his range of materials and interpretations. The historic collection clearly demonstrates the power of the Catholic Church in the history of Québec with its religious focus and portraits of worthy people. It is a very, very good collection, well-curated and with generous use of space with benches to allow one to sit and enjoy the art. The contemporary art is very interesting, again well chosen to display the breadth of Quebec’s artist communities. The entire collection boasts 40,000+ pieces representing more than 4500+ artists. As I am not an art historian, I found the temporary exhibition on the Cozic Studio (Monic Brassand and Yvon Cozic) to be totally engaging. The exhibition was not of finished works; instead it included works called “naked” artistic gestures, which really meant assemblages and studies for works in progress. These provided a truly great insight to the thinking emerging from this studio. I greatly enjoyed numerous elements from the opportunity for a selfie as part of the exhibition and the ability to see faces in the handles of various boxes. It was all such fun. Very good mobility access, a wonderful white table cloth restaurant, extensive retail opportunity, simple floor plan and good signage, did not see a printed guide, solid exhibitions, well presented and well interpreted.
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La Citadelle
The Citadelle of Québec is an operating military garrison for the Royal 22nd Battalion, Canada’s only completely French speaking battalion. The historic fortifications include Canada’s oldest military building, dating back to 1693, the only city gate not rebuilt for automobiles, the official residence for the Canadian monarch and of the Governor General of Canada since 1872, and the Royal 22e Régiment Museum. A visit around the fortress is by tour only as it is both an operating military garrison as well as a living space for some soldiers and their families. Anyone can visit the museum without taking a tour. There are a few steps (2 or 3 sets of 3 steps or so each) involved in getting in and out of the museum. The regimental museum collection has 13,000 artifacts from the 17th century to today. The 22nd Battalion (the “Van Doos”) was formed in 1914, with the First World War in order that French Canadians could serve in their own language. The Museum's permanent exhibition, "Je me souviens" tracks the highs and lows of the "Van Doos" through their 100-year history, as well as the lives of the soldiers of this infantry unit. The museum houses one of Canada's largest military collections, which stretches across 300 years of history from the French colonial period to the present day. The museum also includes the permanent Honour and Memory Medals Gallery, which has over 300 sets of medals awarded to Royal 22e Régiment members, revealing the person behind the medal through biographies on interactive terminals. A must see for a military history buff! Regrettably, for my memories, one is not allowed to take photos in the museum. The museum is accessible with assistance on the stairs, modest retail opportunity, tours well attended with very knowledgeable guides, displays very traditional but well written. The Citadelle is a distance from most anywhere but a short taxi ride will get you there and onward on a good day and with good legs you can walk there.
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