We are meeting Jen and Todd Steeves from the Ottawa MG Club for breakfast near the hotel and then driving to the outskirts to meet Duncan and the group who will be driving with us to Montreal. No dramas getting away although Peter is a bit disappointed that the electric fan he was hoping to pick up for Green Car didn’t turn up. Yesterday he had dropped into a spares shop near the hotel and the owner was so impressed with our trip that he told Peter he could have any of the fans he had in stock for free if they would fit. Unfortunately they were all too large so he tried to get a smaller one overnight – no stock unfortunately but a nice try.
Bob Zelmer from the Ottawa Club has loaned me a Gilles Villeneuve book overnight for our adventurers to all sign – we find we share a passion not only for MGs but also Formula 1, especially from the 1970s and 80s when Quebec’s Gilles Villeneuve was driving briefly for for McLaren and then Ferrari. An exceptionally talented driver who had a short but exciting career and was the father of Jaques Villeneuve. Bob was excited that our trip includes a visit to the Montreal F1 track named in the memory of Gilles so it’s going to be a good day.
Montreal is only a couple of hours away tracking parallel with the St Lawrence Seaway so we shortly arrive at Chateau Laudreuil – a magnificent building and gardens running down to the water. There are another dozen or so MGs with their very enthusiastic and welcoming owners from the Montreal Club there to meet us and we enjoy a delicious buffet lunch – how good to be in Quebec province where the culinary traditions are so French.
First stop after lunch is the Gilles Villeneuve circuit built after Mosport was deemed not safe enough for F1 in 1982. It was built on Ile Notre Dame alongside the former 1967 Canadian Expo and has a reputation for being one of the more challenging circuits on the calendar. The wall on the outside of the chicane is known as the Quebec Wall and has caught out many famous drivers. The weather today is much cooler with showers followed by brilliant sunshine but It is fairly damp and dreary when we arrive at the circuit. A quick grid line up of the cars for photos with officials flapping around saying you can’t stop here and we are off at the strictly limited top speed of 30 km/h – what would Gilles have thought about that!
Then it’s into the old city where we meet Duncan’s friend Sarah who is our tour guide. An excellent introduction to Quebec’s history dating back to 1642 interlaced with nice touches of humour and little tests along the way followed by a meal at a very noisy restaurant right near the hotel we somehow managed to book right in the party centre of Quebec. Not quite our demographic but everyone has a good time anyway.
There was a bit of car drama this afternoon when we were parking in downtown Montreal and for a change it wasn’t one of our cars. The very smart MGB driven by our friends Jen and Todd suddenly started itself as they were unloading stuff with no-one was in the driver’s seat. And it was in gear! Fortunately the handbrake was on and Jen managed to stall it before hitting any of the other cars but what a nasty shock. They had experienced a starter relay problem a few days ago and it seemed the wire to the starter relay had short circuited to a live wire at the ignition switch. An autonomous car ahead of its time! Unfortunately the starter solenoid fried itself so they were left with a long drive back to Ottawa and no starter – Jen sent a note later that night saying they got back okay so all good.