Every year, the oldest city in Canada remembers its history with a festival that takes visitors back to the past. For 22 years, Quebec City has been celebrating its roots as New France.
Charles Mamano, whose character is one of the musketeers who came from France for two years from 1665 to 1667, is one of many people who gets a kick out of the elaborate costumes you’ll see during the Fête de la Nouvelle France, or New France Festival.
“It’s history that you’re able to live during five days,” he said. “I think it’s very important that we make the people know their French-Canadian history.”
Billy Rioux plays a character who is an adventurer, but he is kind of an adventurer in real life. He’s been attending the festival for the last five years.
“Every year, I come here. It is just a great place to learn about history,” he said.
This year he’s brought an authentic wooden boat, which he built himself.
“Building a boat like this, it’s not easy, it’s not easy at all,” he said. “It took me about three months with forged nails, with boards. … I mostly used period tools.”
He sewed the sail himself (it took 50 hours). After he finished, he took it on a 250-kilometre journey from Montreal to Baie Saint-Paul to try it out. The journey took two weeks.
“Back in that time, they were not in a rush, I’m telling you,” he said, laughing. “I learned how perseverant people were — and very skilled.”
Diane Rocheleau’s character is Anne-Marie Coureur, “one of the few bourgeois ladies of Nouvelle France.”
During the festival, she is part of the Guild of Bobbin Lace Makers, which employs the same technique taught to the first Quebecois women by the Ursulines.
“Basically, it’s crossing threads, one over the other. It’s easier than it looks, but it’s very time-consuming,” she said. “But it’s also very zen because when you do that, you forget about everything … and it’s something that people should go back to because it’s really, really, quieting.”
Rioux also said that living like the years of yore can be very beneficial for one’s frame of mind.
“Life, how great it is when you keep it simple … and not rushing and not wanting more and more and more and just being happy with the present,” he said.