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Virtual Museum of Canada

The Archipelago

Video interview

Michel Lavallée, a resident of Île d'Embarras

Video transcript: View

(6 minutes, 3 seconds)


My name is Michel and I'll be taking you people from the Biophare on a tour in my boat. How long will it take? I don't know. I'd like you to know that I bought the hull of this boat, but I built the rest myself. So let's get going! It's going to be great.

We bought our house in 2002, but we came here in 2000. We rented for two years. The guy really didn't want to sell. But we kept pushing. I went to see his wife and made an offer. She refused. But eventually, she came to me and said, "Mr. Lavallée, how about this price?" And I said, "Of course!" Since then I've owned the house, and now there's no amount of money you could pay me to leave. We couldn't live in a four-and-a-half in the city. It's so open here, and we have so much space. We feel like we're living outside time. When we go into town to work or run errands, I often ask my girlfriend, "What are we doing?" And she says, "We're going home. We're going home." So we leave and come straight here. There's always something fun to do here.

I was born in downtown Sorel. After that, we lived in the neighbourhood near the Franciscans. My father had a boat, and a cabin. The cabin was just near here. I was about a year old when we started coming here. Then later, I had friends in town who had boats, and that's where it started. On Sundays, during the weekend, we would come do a tour of the islands. We'd have outings here. I would spend all my time here. We'd rush out of school on Friday so we could take our little motorboat to the islands.

The beach from "The Outlander" was on Île de Grâce. Everyone would end up there, it was lots of fun. And there were the big boats, big steamships that would pass by, with a chimney in the middle. When we saw one come up, we would shout, "A boat's coming! A boat's coming!" Then we would jump into the wake and play in the water. All that kind of stuff.

When we got to be a bit older and we could get around without our parents, we'd go to the sandbank. We could get a little crazier when our parents weren't around. My dad had a little boat. We would get in, one, two, three, four, five... we were six kids, plus my mother. We would all leave and go to the beach, then we'd spread out a tablecloth and have a picnic.

Often when I bring people here in my boat, I'll stop here just like this. They ask, "What are you doing?" I say, "Listen to this." Scary, isn't it? Oh ho ho! Check this out! That's great! It's a little one! He's very small. We'll put him back in the water, let him grow a little. I should have passed him up to show you. Did you get a good look? We'll try to find a bigger one.

There we go! Oh this is a big one! Yup, he's a big one! Don't put this on camera, people will find out my fishing spot! Look, this guy's a greedy one. He grabbed the big part. The little one grabbed the other part here, but he grabbed the big one. See it? Here. Not bad, eh? That's a Black Walleye. Yellow Walleyes have a small white line at the end of the tail here. If we keep this one, and go on fishing, I could catch another five just like that. That means I'll have made my quota, I'll have dinner. No, I'm going to put him back.

We'd often go with my father to catch frogs on Île du Moine. We'd fill buckets and buckets with frogs. Those frog legs were really great. Not at all like the bullfrog legs they serve in restaurants these days.

This was my first "Ti-Tannik," and I used it for about ten years. And when I got my other boat, people would ask me, "What are you going to do with the old one?" "Are you going to sell it?" And I said, "No, I'm gonna make it into a nice big flower box!" And that's what I did; now this boat is my flower box.

Springtime erosion brings in all this good earth. You never know what will grow here; it could be rushes, it could be poplars. It changes every year.

All four seasons are beautiful here, and there's always something to do. Time just flies, and it's beautiful. Everything is special; you just need to know how to look. People never take the time to look around.

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