St.Denis de Kamouraska, Quebec Canada. In 2014 I wrote about finding the Rossignol ancestral homeland after meeting our new found cousins from St. Denis, Julien, Michel and Isabelle Rossignol. I became intrigued not only with this beautiful part of our world, its landscape and geography but its people, their/our culture and specifically my Rossignol ancestry. I’ve been wanting to return to this region ever since, but because of the recent pandemic we’ve been unable to cross into Canada. Hopefully we will be able to plan and complete this 2 day 135 mile journey in the summer of 2022. Retracing our steps/pedal strokes back to Kamouraska from northern Maine via bicycle seems like a worthy endeavor, an adventure for sure. Spending days outside away from your daily routine works like magic for your mind, body and soul… and it’s not a true adventure if there are no stories to be told or heard.
I wanted to visit the people of this region. Many of which have moved back to live a simpler more satisfying life. I am continually awestruck and amazed by the natural beauty of this area. Rolling green hills covered by tall grass and hay fields bisected by narrow roads, brown patches of dirt and gravel all converging towards the St Lawrence seaway by flat fields neatly rowed and sectioned off. Clusters of cows dotting the land, small white clouds floating through ever brightening blue skies make for unforgettable days on and off the bike. I’m hoping to discover new roads that will lead to new places, new encounters and enlightenment. Cycling from northern Maine to St. Denis de Kamouraska will undoubtedly allow for us to not only see but hear and experience fully the people, the land and their stories all along the way. These stories and new experiences may make us wonder, bring us together and encourage us to see one another in a whole new way. Maybe, just maybe this bike adventure could reawaken a sense of connectedness to family and to the community of our shared heritage.
While researching the Rossignol family tree it became quite obvious that its roots are firmly planted in Kamouraska and northern Maine. I also couldn’t help but remember or reminisce about the many conversations I so often had with my father John and grandfather Leon regarding how life was back in the early 1900’s and 1960-1980’s. The common theme throughout our history was; how hard life was, overcoming obstacles, enduring hardships and keeping large families fed and a roof over their heads. Hardwork and being ever grateful were constants and a sense of pride accompanied all this adversity. I began to see the many similarities with our French heritage and culture to long adventurous bike rides, “rein sans la peine” (nothing without effort/suffering). Learning to endure…it’s a lesson that will serve you well both on and off the bike for many years . Cycling is often times hard…but doing these difficult but satisfying adventures allows us to, “leave the grind of our daily lives behind”. Cycling and life is a self perpetuating circle of curiosity, preparation, testing, failing, enjoying and of trying again and again.
Stayed tuned for part two of “Revisiting the Rossignol ancestral homeland” where we will highlight and describe in detail this grand cycling adventure, complete with photos and stories.