For the last sixty miles of its course the Saguenay flows between two series of stupendous precipices, most of which have but little vegetation save tenacious lichens and some hardy pines, and rise from a thousand to eighteen hundred feet above the inky water at their base. In many places they resemble a long line of icebergs turned to stone. Moreover, like those floating offsprings of the Arctic glaciers, they sometimes reach a submarine depth far greater than their height above the surface. Occasionally curious men, toiling like pygmies in their chilling gloom, have tried to solve the mystery of that nether world; and here and there have lowered into the black waters a line two thousand feet in length, only to draw it up again without result. In certain spots the depth is said to be nearly four thousand feet. At all events, this river is a channel without rock or shoal; and man has built no ship so large that it cannot with perfect safety stem the Saguenay for sixty miles. Its average width is about a mile; and, therefore, when the steamer is midway between the banks, the grandeur of the monster cliffs is not so overpowering; but let it glide within their grewsome twilight, and every voyager is hushed with awe. Apparently Nature does not wish for man upon the Lower Saguenay. Few feasible landing-places are discernible. With rare exceptions, from Tadousac to Ha Ha Bay, the same relentless bastions follow one another, cold and forbidding as the abyss beneath.
On The Saguenay.
The source of the Saguenay lies in the Laurentian Mountains - those mounds of dark, azoic rock, which are the vertebrae of the western hemisphere, far older than the Appalachians and Rockies, and constitute the nucleus of the American continent. It seems appropriate that such a saturnine, mysterious river should emerge from those archaic fastnesses, for we behold here the effect produced by some immense catastrophe of the prehistoric world. The granite gulf through which this torrent rolls was never excavated by erosion. Into such substance water cannot cut profoundly. Framed on both sides by granite walls, it is a partially submerged, gigantic canon, the floor of which, even just before its terminus, is seven hundred feet below the bed of the St. Lawrence. It appears probable, therefore, that in this region, which is even now occasionally shaken by an earthquake, some fearful rending of the mountains took place in a distant geologic era, and opened thus an exit for an inland sea. In confirmation of this theory, one sees that, as a rule, whenever the shore advances on one side, it recedes similarly on the other.
A Monster Cliff.
The climax of the scenery is reached at the entrance to a narrow bay, where two huge promontories rise in stern sublimity to the height of eighteen hundred feet. To these, their reverent discoverers gave the titles of Cape Trinity and Cape Eternity : the former on account of three divisions in its mighty mass, which of itself suggested the Creator's power; the latter, probably, because of the enduring strength contrasted here with the frail, fleeting life of man. It matters not, however, why their names were given.
They thrill us with additional solemnity, as we look up at the colossal forms to which they are applied.
Eternity seems nearer to us in presence of such scenes. The finite is forgotten in the Infinite, and man in God.
The Upper is very different from the Lower Saguenay. At Chicoutimi, seventy-one miles from the St. Lawrence, rapids oppose a barrier to further navigation, and a considerable detour must be made before untroubled water can be found again. How picturesque and graphic are the names bestowed upon such natural phenomena by the Indians! Thus, the odd-sounding title of this place, Chicoutimi, is equivalent to the expression, "Up to here it is deep".
Capes Trinity And Eternity.
Forty-one miles above this lies the source of the Saguenay, Lake St. John, a lovely sheet of water, twenty-eight miles long and twenty wide, well known to fishermen and hunters, as well as to lovers of pure, unadulterated nature, who find here nevertheless, though on the border of the wilderness, a spacious and luxurious hotel, placed like a gem in a magnificent setting. Here one can hire, for immediate use in the adjoining forests, guides, tents, canoes, and camp-supplies, and thus equipped can take leave for a time of "civilization," without, however, reverting to the habits of the savage. But other craft besides canoes and sail-boats glide across the surface of this lake. A large and comfortable steamer also cuts in its water a far deeper furrow, as it conveys enthusiastic tourists from Roberval to the most famous fishing resorts along the shores.