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Feeling the Chill? Then the Ice Canoe Races at Quebec's Winter Carnival Are NOT For You

January 3, 2014 at 9:32 AM | by | ()

With the temperatures in the teens across much of the Northeast, even those of us sitting inside today are no doubt feeling the chill. This contributor is staring out the window and watching the wind rip through and blow the snow off the trees, but somehow it seems warmer than the image captured in the photo above -- a snapshot from the ice canoe races that take place every year at the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City, set to take place a month from now January 31st to February 16th.

We gave you a glimpse of what goes down at the carnival a few years ago, including ice sculptures, winter-oriented carnival rides (think dog sledding), horse jarring shows, hot caribou in a cane, snow raves, and an extremely festive atmosphere throughout the city. We certainly bundled up for the cold on our visit, but nothing could stop our knees from buckling during the yearly ice canoe races.

Quick backstory about the race: Before there were bridges over the St. Lawrence River, water taxis took people from one side to the other (it was apparently a pretty good living until the bridges put them out of business). These taxi services were run by local families, and one night after a few too many caribous during the Winter Carnival, a challenge was put on the table. To the boats they went, racing across, navigating the chunks of ice that float down the river. Who was victorious that night is unclear, but they’ve been doing it every year since as the cornerstone of the Carnival.

For us, the best part of the canoe race was the fact that it at times takes place out of the water. In the video above, you'll see that sometimes the shortest distance between two points is a straight line -- right across a huge chunk of floating ice. Instead of paddling around, the team steps out of the boat and drags it across the iceberg.

The infamous ice canoe race will take place this year on Sunday, February 9th. For those who have never been to Quebec City, the Winter Carnival is a fantastic time to go given all that's happening across town. We recommend spending a few days skiing at Le Massif and Mont Sainte-Anne before or after staying a few nights in the French-influenced Old Town Quebec. Our sis HotelChatter has the scoop on the premier place to stay in Quebec City, the castle-like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, which just underwent a makeover this year.

[Photo and Video: Will McGough for Jaunted]

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