What Did You Do This Summer?

This post was inspired by Doug Petersen’s which you can find here:


As my brain shifts from summer back to work mode, I can feel the summer ebbing away…

This summer was about spending time with my daughters ages 6 and 8.  July was mostly about playdates, a little camping, Storybook Gardens, playing tennis and 4 weeks of daily swimming lessons for my kids.  It also consisted of my husband’s bagpipe competition visits in Kincardine, Embro and Maxville.

In August we travelled to Ottawa followed by Montreal and Quebec City.  In between Montreal and Quebec city, we also stopped by Longueuil, where my mom grew up and where my French family lived up until 2005, when we lost our last living relative there.


I decided to visit the cemetery where my grandmother Rita was burried with her mother, father and two sisters.  Having done my family tree with my mom earlier, I realized that I’m related to a lot of the people in that cemetery!  Our earliest relative André Lamarre came from France to this area in the 1600’s and lived to the age of 96. I visited the area in France he’s from at the age of 15 without knowing it.  Imagine the history he lived through. Check it out if you would like:


It was amazing to recognize the names of my relatives here and was also a bit emotional.  I felt connected to these people.  Walking around brought back a lot of memories.


Imagine having three grandmothers to spoil you rotten… that’s what visits to Longueuil were like for me.  My grandmother Rita was a widow and she lived with her two unmarried sisters Claire and Renée.  Claire was tall, lanky and very athletic with striking silver and black short hair.  Mostly, she loved to make everyone laugh.  Renée was blonde and dressed in pastels and a bit posh, working in a jewelry store.  Rita loved to laugh and I remember her as more gentle than the other two.  They taught me how to knit and would repair my “blanket” that would come with holes in it.

I remember the kitchen the most.  We would be treated to homemade soup, meringues with silver candies, “outils” candies and home cooking that would make the house smell good all day.  There was a big pantry where my sister and I would cheekily sit and sell canned good to my grandmother and aunts for dimes and quarters.  The table was set every evening for breakfast which always meant dark red syrupy jam with whole strawberries that you would crush on your toast.  We would get treats from “Rolland’s” bakery (eclairs there were to die for).  We had a band of French kids that would take us around the neighbourhood and poke fun at us when we would say things wrong in French.  We taught them some interesting English phrases in return…


We had just visited the church where my family had attended for hundreds of years when my daughter had to stop and use a washroom.  Old Longueuil consists of a street with outdoor cafés, great little shops and at the time of our visit, an international “pétanque” championship or as my husband calls it “tossy ball”.  We stopped at a deli and my husband said we should probably buy something on our way out.  Eyeing the wall of craft beers, I figured I knew what he was going to purchase.  I wasn’t really paying attention and took my girls outside to wait for him.  Imagine my surprise (and delight) when he came out of the store with a bag of pink meringues…

My trips to Quebec when I was young helped me understand why I was learning French and gave me a “real” context where I could speak it.  Or, if I was too shy, I could at least understand it.  I think the trip helped my daughters understand this on some level too.  They’re in French school and that’s how I keep the French line in my family going.  So when we talk about shifts in the new curriculum and creating French speakers that can use French in authentic situations – I get that.

Thanks to Doug for prompting this blog…

Please pass it on and share something from your summer.

6 Responses

  1. Kevin George at |

    Thank you for this blog and sharing your journey through summer. I now want to go to Old Longueuil. Beautiful.

  2. Peter Andersen at |

    That’s a great blog Jen, really enjoyed reading that. Read like a short story!

  3. Doug Peterson at |

    Hi Jen – thanks for sharing your summer with us. (or at least parts of it.) What a rich story that you share and I hope that your family can appreciate your reflection. It makes it all the more important. I’m sure that the folks in Quebec appreciate the impact that they had on your learning!

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