Traveling in Québec, I found a small town that I will never forget. It’s very small–only about 1,200 people live there–but its cinematic beauty and idyllic atmosphere is so enchanting that I began wondering how I might move there one day.
From afar, L’Anse-Saint-Jean looks like the kind of bucolic scene you learn to oil paint on Saturday morning television. In the distance stand the majestic rock cliffs that border the Saguenay fjord–one of the longest fjords in the world. In the middle ground are the silver-blue waters of the fjord itself disturbed only by a tiny hump of an island named St. Jean. Spotted dairy cows graze between a marshy shoreline and the surrounding hills of dark green pines. A scattered chain of century-old farmhouses follows the dusty road into the foreground with its requisite steeple, happy front yard flowers spilling over white picket fences and a babbling brook to boot. Above the rushing water sits the finishing touch: an old-fashioned covered bridge made entirely of wood, Le Pont du Faubourg.
The covered bridge and the town of L’Anse-Saint-Jean are so infectiously cute, the scene was depicted on the back of Canada’s original $1,000 bill. Eighteen years passed before anyone in the town laid eyes on a thousand dollar bill and recognized their hometown on the money. The series has since been discontinued and back in 1996, a terrible flood destroyed the town’s famous bridge. The loss of the bridge in real life and on paper was a tragedy for what it represented–the disappearance of a small town.
Photo by Denis Angers