This cradle of the Saguenay is the especial home of the ouananiche, unquestionably one of the gamiest fish that ever threw a sportsman into a fever of excitement. Astonishing stories are told of the agility and strength of these plucky little creatures in fighting for their lives; and even when allowance has been made for the inevitable exaggeration of the fisherman, enough remains to make it evident that they will tax the skill and patience of the most experienced man who ever threw a line, as they rush wildly here and there, bound high in air from the water, and leap at times completely over, and sometimes into, the canoe, in their mad struggle to be free.
Roberval Hotel Lake St John.
Another remarkable characteristic of this lake is the fact that forty rivers (counting various minor branches) pour into it their tribute gathered from a million rills. Eighteen of these rivers actually enter it, three of which rival in size the Saguenay itself. From almost every side these affluents come, spurning the solitude of northern forests, as if in search of some companionship; and eager, above all, to see the outer world and reach their longed-for goal, the sea. Swirling along for miles in eddies, rapids, falls, and whirlpools, contracting or expanding as the unyielding rocks compress or liberate them, on, on they come, all having Indian names which show us what their course has been. That of the longest, for example, rendered into English, means "Where we watch the deer." Another signifies "Coming out in rapids." Some plunge down to the lake in beautiful cascades; and one, the Ouatchewan, descends about three hundred feet in a tumultuous mass of snow-white foam, distinctly visible thirty miles away.
So great is the amount of water poured thus into Lake St. John, that in the spring, when the streams are swollen by the melting snow, the Sague-nay is unable to release it all, and the lake sometimes rises in consequence twenty-seven feet. In a wild rush of rapids, through a narrow sluiceway called the Grand Discharge, the Sag-uenay begins its memorable course. There is no hint here of the gloomy walls between which it must erelong wind its solitary way. No weird and awful shadows darken its young life. The banks which line its path, though often seven hundred feet in altitude, are, in the summer, green with waving trees, and, in the autumn, glorious with the colors of the dying year. There is, however, an element of sadness here, as one recalls the many rivers which lately gave themselves so gladly to the lake, but now have lost their individuality. All have been taught by Nature the great lesson of self-effacement. To none of them is given the privilege of being an independent affluent to the St. Lawrence. One stream alone, the Saguenay, is destined to absorb and represent them all. Lake St. John forms indeed a rendezvous for these aspirants; but from this fluvial clearing-house they issue in an indistinguishable mass to fight their way on to the sea, just as the names of private soldiers are all merged and lost in the illustrious title of the general who leads them on to victory.
The Ouatchewan Falls.
On The Grand Discharge Rapids.
The approach to Montreal by water is scarcely less impressive than the arrival at Quebec. In both sites a commanding bluff forms the chief feature of the landscape : one rising dark and threatening from the very brink of the St. Lawrence; the other constituting at a little distance from the river a majestic background, seven hundred feet in height, covered in winter with a robe of ermine, and in the summer with luxuriant foliage, which in the autumn makes of it a variegated dome of sylvan splendor. Cape Diamond is girt with cannon. The Royal Mount is studded with fine residences. One is surmounted by a fortress ; the other by a pleasure park, on which half a million dollars has been spent. The eastern city's cliffs are typical of war; those of the western suggest peace, for on the natural terraces which gradually rise between the mountain that adorns it and the river that supports it lies the commercial capital of Canada.