Moving in to The Old Lady

Moving in to The Old Lady

By Étienne Grégoire

OldLady1So I decided to move into Old Quebec, in a nice little apartment on the safe side of the fortifications, right in the middle of the Winter Carnival. Well, I decided to move into Old Quebec, the rest of it kind of fell into my lap. The Winter Carnival didn’t really care that the lease I signed started on February 1st.

Now, I’ve got a cozy fire going, Chuck Berry’s telling me You never can tell, the coffee is strong, and I’m stuck in one of those sentimental moods that follow periods of exertion. It suddenly struck me that I have no idea what I was really getting into.

You see, it all started one week before I was due to move in. The basement of my apartment was flooded when the Great Winter Chill finally had its way with the water pipes that were fitted who-knows when. It’s one of those things that happen, when you think of moving into an ancient home, in the old city of Quebec. In the Grand Old City of Quebec, where tourists flock during the quaint months of winter to photograph the fortifications, the horse-drawn carriages, actors dressed up in fur pelts wearing period snowshoes, and the beautiful golden lights of the afternoon falling on that guy carrying his kitchen mixer in one hand, vacuum cleaner in the other, fumbling with his keys to open the old iron-grated door to his apartment building.

Later …

“Such a rich history, honey, I’m so glad we came during winter.”

Yes m’am, it is, now could you please move and admire the sights from a slightly different vantage point, this fridge is kind of heavy.

OldLady2The apartment is an annex to a building that dates back to the 19th century. It shows its age in the original brickwork walls, the ancient fireplace, the beautiful wooden staircase and the stone-walled shallow basement that you can almost hear being dug by hand. But The Old Lady is not exactly Audrey Hepburn, aging gracefully along. There are the drafty windows, the exposed wiring retrofitted in the 50’s for electricity, the more modern haphazard television cable job, and that beautiful staircase? Grab the handrail, it’s narrow and steep. It was probably last legal before the second great war. And don’t forget to duck before the landing, son. The Old Lady is not used to tall fellows like yourself.

As I am writing this, I have just bought my passes for the Festival d’Été. I have little doubts that I could have avoided the event – music from the plains will likely overcome The Old Lady’s turn-of-the-century windows – but I do believe that the water is only cold when you dip your toes in. Get it into your ears, and you don’t want to leave.


Etienne GregoireEtienne Gregoire has lived in and around Quebec City for his entire life, except for a few months in the wild west of Canada. He spends most of his days looking at data, while trying to get the most from it.

When not trying to decipher the matrix, he likes to take the odd photograph and think about wild “what-if” scenarios.

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