Day 10 (I think): Belleville

One of the jobs my daughter does when training patients to do their own dialysis is to visit them at their homes soon after to see how they are doing. This worked out for me as it meant I could be dropped off at the nearby town while she headed down a dusty country road. (I admit that description was solely in my imagination) This particular day I visited Belleville. Early. In a sleepy, quiet town. I was doubtful I would find a place for a cup of coffee until my D called me from her car – Bluetooth is great – saying she had passed a place. 

Very impressive Belleville City Hall.

By this time I had walked past the rather stunning city hall, around the block plus some and noted there were several churches, upon a second tour, slightly extended, around I discovered that one of the main streets is aptly called Church Street. My day was planned. Find a washroom, then coffee, then explore. At 8:30 in the morning it is not always easy to find facilities in a small town. (Or is this only an issue for older travellers?) However, most towns with a decent population do have a city/town hall that have public facilities – I suggest to anyone travelling to seek out this public building, after all taxpayers pay for it and you are a guest. Information can also be found about the area if an Information Centre is not available, closed or on the outskirts.

Next on my agenda was to find one of two cafes. I was hoping for The Brake Room, and had actually passed it on one my earlier circuits. A perfect blend of two of my favourites, cycling and coffee. A fabulous idea, open a bicycle repair shop combined with a coffee shop that is situated near one of many trails and, “they will come.” It helps if the fare offered is good, and it was. They promise locally sourced food and quality coffee. I was not disappointed. A flat white and a maple scone (finally a scone that was not so dry or overly fluffed with baking soda to choke a person) to tide me over. Although the seating area was not exceptionally busy at the time there was enough coming and going to think this place will stay in business for some time. I did have a fleeting thought about how slow things must be over the winter months. I also thought that if I knew how to repair bikes I could sink my teeth into a similar business. Not in Victoria though, I believe the bike repair and the Cafe market is saturated despite not having a combined shop. I was ready to take on the rest of Belleville.

Thinking as a cyclist I checked out possible paths where walking was also encouraged. My first stop was at the railway station. “Belleville became an important railway junction with the completion of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856.” Unfortunately it appeared the station was closed so I walked further on to admire some of the condos and townhouses along the river – minimal glimpses. Some very nice boats tied to private docks. No access to trails that way so I headed back to the railway station. This is where one of my few prejudices kicked in. (I will not go into detail as to why; suffice to say I do have a legitimate reason) Two men, who appeared to be insufficiently homed and possibly inebriated (this was before 10:00am), were sitting on a bench at the entrance to both trails so I approached the trails around the backside in the hopes of not creating any friction. In either direction the main arteries were closed due to flooding. So I had to backtrack to the crosswalk, smack damn in front of the aforementioned benches and occupants. To raise my blood pressure one of the men sauntered towards the same crossing I was heading for. I crossed, waited for the next crossing to go to the opposite side. Of course this fellow saw someone he knew and crossed over part way up the street. I know I was overreacting but knowing should never be discounted when in an unfamiliar place. I headed to a Church Street.

The river appeared very close to lapping the tracks

Of course, once again, none of the churches were open. This makes me think about my daughter’s PhD focus on the interconnection of Sacred and Secular spaces – where tourism flourishes. I expect locking the doors is a direct impact of too few congregates, priests and pastors and the various individuals who make a church run smoothly. As steeples seem to fascinate me I took photos of those rather than poor ones of stained glass. The United Church, sitting on a hillock above the street, had a quite an ambitious garden going. I have a strong belief that churches should use the land for gardens to “share his bread with the poor.” On that note it was time for lunch.

Like I had passed the Brake Room, I went by Paulo’s Italian Trattoria a couple of times during my wandering. My daughter had a couple of hours before seeing her patient again and sent a text suggesting an early lunch. I was checking out the menus when a server and then the owner said I could come in although it was not even 11:00 and they would not open for another half hour. Coffee was put on to brew, water provided. I was duly impressed without even eating anything. Lunch turned out to be delicious. Warm bread with butter, and a hearty soup. It had been raining off and on all morning. Great service, all within the timeframe before we had to rush off. 

I was dropped off at a nursery where I am sure the owners thought I had been abandoned. One can only traverse the aisles of a small greenhouse and the outdoor paths of a small operation for so long. I probably walked 5000+ steps! When I was finally picked up we bought some lovely flowering plants and I thanked the owners for letting me hang out. 

The numbers: $7.00 snack $ coffee; $35.00 for train meals and snacks while in Quebec; 20,000 steps

Side Trip to Jasper

Via Rail's the Canadian making its way through forests overlooked by the Rocky Mountains between Jasper and Vancouver. As a bonus, travelling long distances by rail gives you the opportunity to read a novel or two, do some crossword puzzles or simply meet other passengers and make new friends. (CP PHOTO/ HO/ Via Rail)

As if I did not have enough snow in Ontario the month I was there, and now, in the Garden City, where golfers never take a day off, we have had too many days of snow, where am I heading in a month?

The Rocky Mountains, where glaciers meet the highway, the daytime temperature average is -1.6 C to slightly above 4 C. Basically what we have in Victoria now, when we should be seeing cherry and plum blossoms. I will not be surprised if it will be unseasonably cold when I arrive in Jasper.

I have no idea why Jasper, Alberta, in Canada, suddenly popped into my head the other day, but it did. Perhaps it was when I received a notice about excellent Discount Tuesday Escape Fares for Via Rail, or it might have been while reading the Blog of another solo traveller. Whatever grabbed my attention, decision made, train tickets purchased and hostel booked.

This will be a bare bones trip. I will travel economy class, that means no fancy meal service, most likely a viewing car will not have been added for the economy coaches, and sleep will be in the seat. I already know that blankets and pillows must be rented and food can be purchased. I will pack accordingly.

Fine, at least I am prepared…right? Not exactly. Rather than drag my sturdy, heavy duty winter boots and coat home, because of course we so rarely get snow past January at home, I left them in Ontario. Along with my warm winter socks. Probably my really warm Olympic mittens too. As for winter wear while in Jasper, I do have a lighter pair of boots that should suffice, plus enough coats and sweaters that I am not really worried.


I was not planning to do any major activities in the snow. I have one month to look things up, decide on a budget and make a plan. Or change my mind and cancel the tickets before the 24 hours cancellation period is up.

Next morning, I am still going. A little background research tells me that Jasper is 1,060m (3,480ft) – this worries me, I had altitude sickness in China before hitting 1000m, above sea level. Nestled in Jasper National Park, one of the four parks designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Jasper House was established as a fur trade outpost in 1813.

How on earth anyone determined such places has always fascinated me. It can only have been stumbled upon in the ever growing search for wealth in the fur trade. Getting to Jasper remains a test of endurance. Easier on the nerves is the train, so much easier to let the engineer follow the track. I have travelled by car, bus and train into and beyond Jasper, my preferred mode of travel will always be by train.

Expected budget for five days: 500 – 600 CAD As mentioned, this will be a bare bones budget. Looking at the dollar amount so far I already feel I am spending too much on a whim.

  • Via Rail Economy seats return: $292.00
  • Jasper International Hostel 48.62 (bunk bed in a 28 female dorm)
  • BC Ferries return 34.40
  • Public Transit 20.00 (this is an estimate)

Next list, gear.