And so we left beautiful Montréal!

G’bye, island! G’bye, Montréal!

We took viaRail overnight to Moncton, and had a sleeping room, which is actually a room, which means we had a room on a train, which is kind of amazing – like, there was enough floorspace to pace if you wanted to – but sadly I was not able to photograph it well.

But seriously, floor space and a closet and our own washroom and AC power and a fold-out desk. And two bunk beds. And a door. With keys. ♥

The Quebec countryside is pretty and mostly farms. Here’s one:

And then the sun set, prettily:

So we watched that for a while, and I wrote a little in my paper journal (but not as much as I’d meant to) and we went to dinner, which was fantastic, and where I discovered I’m rather fond of ice wine, which would also be fantastic if it wasn’t $90 a bottle.


Back in the room, Anna wrote into the night.

…while I headed back up to the lounge car to – well, my plan was just rehearse. But I picked up an audience, and it turned into a little late-night concert! Small but enthusiastic, which seems to be kind of a theme for my shows this trip. Hopefully I can turn that into larger and enthusiastic at some point, but small crowds are great if they’re actually involved and paying attention.

Right after the show, the train stopped and a chunk of it separated off to go to Gasbé, which is where everyone in Quebec goes for vacation. Seriously, everybody. But we kept going, after dropping them off, and awoke to the low forests of New Brunswick!

Facing east, difficult to photograph

We went up to get breakfast (and found we’d missed it, thanks to our phones not picking up the timezone change – hello, Atlantic Time!) but got something in the lounge car instead. And a surprise concert by someone else!

Joanna Barker

After her show, we chatted and traded CDs. She was also playing her way across Canada, but doing it entirely on the train! She’d started on Vancouver Island and was heading back home to St. John’s. Guys, I so need to do this. Seriously.

It took me a while to figure out this name:

Not みらみち. Mir-ra-ma-shee, as in “where you’re tied up to a tree.”

Around noon, we arrived in Moncton and were met by our gracious hosts, Pauline and Neil and the adorable Miss B! Who totally looks and sounds like Boo from Monsters, Inc. They took us home, then out to THE FOOD OF THEIR PEOPLE! Poutine Rapeé.

I have to admit my first thought with the rapeé was that it was a sweet, and that the outer coating was sugar? But it’s a savoury – the outer layer is potato, and on the inside, smoked meats! It’s very much like hombow, only because it’s boiled (very traditional, you say?) it kind of has a slime layer. Which you scrape off, and then it’s actually pretty good!

Miss B and Dad, Neil

Seriously, she’s Boo incarnate. We kept waiting for her to shout KITTY!

We had a whole day, so Pauline and Neil drove us around to show us the countryside. New Brunswick is unsurprisingly also lovely countryside:

Click here for closeup

Click to enlarge

…albeit infested by GIANT LOBSTERS:

Acadian! Lobsters! Of! Unusual! Size!

She’s Et, Jim

Et too, Anna?

And then back to town and off to do a house concert! Again, small but enthusiastic; there were some last-minute cancellations due to the best weather of the last two years and impromptu camping and other outdoors excursions. But, again, enthusiastic. It’s a theme, really. At least one person took some video, hopefully I can get it from him! I need to get off my ass and ask about that… XD

Right about here I started figuring something about the differences between cultures and how much they do or do not value music.

Cascadia’s not particularly music-hostile. Some places genuinely are, and not just fundamentalist environments either. (Singapore is, from what I’m told, rather music-hostile. Just as an example.)

But it’s not a thing that people do, in general. And it’s a little weird if someone does do it; it’s a little spooky, or a little magical, and a bit discouraged, socially. Recorded music is everywhere, but performers are… not generally welcome. I’ve been treated very roughly at farmer’s markets where I’m supposed to be playing, because the farmers – as one put it, too my face – think I’m a “parasite” for not being, well, a farmer.

For not being productive, really, because what I make isn’t important. And it’s socially okay to make that very clear. I’ve had people ask what I was happy about, and when I tell them about it and it’s some music thing, they abruptly changed the subject.

That’s not the norm – in that it’s not the most common reaction – but it normal, in that it happens often enough to be unremarkable. It’s not worth noting.

Unless, of course, I’m explaining the differences between places, like I am now.

So it’s not suppressed – and classical is outright approved of – so there are instrument stores here, and some very good ones! (Dusty Strings in Fremont, Seattle; American Music in Bellevue both come to mind.) But, well, they’re niche. They’re quirky. In a positive sense, absolutely! But… quirky. Off-beat. Off-path. Certainly not something you’d find sharing a big-box store parking lot with Costco or, oh, Home Depot.


Yeah. It’s like that.

Every instrument store I went into starting with Montréal and heading east had more variety – not necessarily total stock, but overall variety – than anything I’ve ever seen before this trip. Even the small ones.

That only happens if you have economic demand. And that economic demand tells you, as clearly as can be told without being there, how far down that difference goes. Music is productive; music is something people do.

I’ll talk more about this later. Thank you again, Pauline and Neil, for having us in – and next up: St. John’s!

ps: I bought a xaphoon in Moncton. I’d never seen one before. The first noise I got out of it sounded like a moose call but it really sounds like a hybrid of oboe and sax.

Also in Moncton:

OMG DO WANT. Godin. Particularly the A5 (5-string) version. Droooooooool.