A thousand words

Being a Québec City tour guide might be the best job on the planet: I am paid to – among other things – point out the picturesque here in North America’s most beautiful city. And when a dozen tourists pull out their cameras in unison, I know that I have done my job. I also know that anything I might have to say about the scene is secondary to the scene itself. That is just as it should be. In my business, it is often true that a picture is worth a thousand words.

There is no lack of thousand-word images in Québec City.

Stand at the top of the Breakneck Steps and look down at Little Champlain Street: The view is mesmerizing. Brightly colored parasols sprout from each landing of the wooden staircase, drawing your eye down the hill. At the bottom, the narrow cobbled street stretches into the distance, decorated in the theme of the season and full of flâneurs. When I take my tourists here, they don’t hear a word I say. They are in thrall to the picture before them.

Taking Pics 2 Taking Pics 1















Or, walk down Notre-Dame Street toward the site of the old Champlain market. When you do, look up to the right as you are approaching la Maison Chevalier: The Chateau Frontenac is framed perfectly there by the vintage buildings of Cul-de-Sac Street. Passers-by cannot resist capturing the scene in their digital memory. Their cameras record, in one click of the shutter, the refined elegance of the Upper Town and the merchant moxie of the Lower Town.

And sometimes Mother Nature does all the work. Recently, on a cold May evening, I strolled Battlefields Park with 61 of my favorite Edmontonians. As the huge flock of teenagers flitted and flirted on the Plains of Abraham, their professors and I were treated to a spectacular twilight. The sun had just dipped below the horizon, turning the western sky into a palette of pink and orange pastels. In the foreground, a Martello Tower stood guard in the cool green grass. This time, the tour guide himself couldn’t resist the impulse to pull out his camera.



19 thoughts on “A thousand words”

  1. I enjoy very much your emails on Quebec. They make me want to be there again. When we do we certainly will look for another tour in your company as you make the town look great.
    Joelle and Jim Arvin.

  2. Myriam Lemieux

    I am exactly like you Neil, we have adopted this beautiful city or the city has adopted us. Whatever, there is nothing next to best. Thanks so much for sharing with the whole world.

  3. Excellent témoignage d’un ambassadeur reconnu en tant que guide passionné par son travail et par la ville de Québec. Good job Neil!

  4. Our visit to your beautiful city last year fulfilled a lifetime hope to see the Quebec City of fame and history lessons. Your tour and this program give us great looks to add to our memories. Thank you.

  5. Another fantastic presentation of Beautiful Quebec. Enjoy your informative letters ever so much and look forward to returning for a visit.

  6. Neil, I’ve been one of your tourists, and I have to say that you are unnecessarily minimizing your tour guide role. The beauty of Quebec that you shared with this tourist was amazing, but the knowledge and love of what we saw that you shared with our tour was not “secondary”–it made the beauty all the more meaningful. A tour without your understanding and insight is just a bus ride to some pretty places!

  7. Denis Laberge


    Your thoughts make me reminding about many remarks you made during our Tour Guide program at Merici, namely that we must leave time to our customers not only to know our wonderful city but also to admire and appreciate its actual beauty….from all angles.

    Thank you, DL

    1. Karen and Rodney Rich

      Neil, Robert Bee had comments that we totally agree with. You passed your love of Quebec City to us on our tour last summer with the retired teachers. We loved the shops, the buildings, the cathedrals , in addition to the history that surrounded the mystique of the city. With you as our informative guide, Quebec City is one of our favorite cities.

  8. Bonjour Neil,
    J’emprunte toujours quelques-uns de tes beaux mots pour les inclure dans mes tours. Grand merci !

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