Nöel Dube is just one of the characters you might be lucky enough to bump into once you cross the bridge over to Île d’Orleans. Having his morning coffee in one of his favourite island cafés we got the chance to talk to this 77 years young bus driver about why Île d’Orleans has a special place in his heart no matter the weather.
Being a bus driver has many pluses he has discovered in his 48 years of the trade. On a daily basis, he meets the international workers who gather in Quebec to help with harvesting and pruning of the crops that makes the region famous. From Sri Lanka to Mexico, Bosnia to Nepal – his bus is a melting pot of cultures all here to embrace the beautiful Quebecois land and make it home for a couple of months of the year, he recalls. His route takes him from the city center to numerous spots around Île d’Orleans 5 days a week. When all workers are dropped off he takes his time to enjoy his surroundings and takes advantage of his geographical advantage – hopping in and out of his favorite viewing points and coffee spots.
Dube’s ancestors settled in the village of Sainte-Famille. From here stems his traditional Quebecois family where he grew up in a household that was home to him and his 15 other siblings. Perhaps that is where Dube’s love for nature and the outdoors comes from, seeking a quiet moment to truly embrace the beauty that surrounds him.
‘I’m an observer, you see’ he explains, ‘and when I come to this island I observe such things that I know I can’t see anywhere else.’ At this moment he stands up and reaches in his pocket for the digital camera he carries with him when he explores the island. This time around it’s the beautiful monarch butterfly that has caught his eye, one of the many treats he encounters on his trips.
During the cold winter months then Dube can be seen grabbing his big jacket and making his way towards the famous Pont de l’Île. Snow, winds, ice – nothing is getting in between this man’s love of Île d’Orleans. His favourite journey is on the Route de Mitan connecting Saint-Jean with Sainte-Famille. Setting out he finds the tracks that the snowmobiles have left behind and follows his favorite route by foot from one village to the next. He has no idea how many times he has completed his favourite journey of 8.2km each way but he has no intention of stopping his tracks anytime soon as it is these walks that keeps his passion for the island alive.
Heartfelt conversations with locals are all part of the beauty of this spot. The island runs through their veins and you can feel that pulsating through the whole island. When you leave here, if you ever do, then it is the people and their passion that will linger in your mind. The Islander with a backdrop of the St. Lawrence River and beautiful nature, makes for an image you wish to keep alive in your mind for much longer than your trip to Île d’Orleans.