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Here is the route of the Trans-Canada Highway from east to west:
The Trans-Canada Highway touches only the most southerly regions of this huge province, but provides a great introduction to the history and culture of the regions along the St. Lawrence River.
From the New Brunswick border, Route 185 links Edmunston, NB to Riviere du-Loup (for English speakers, the "p" should be silent), on the scenic St. Lawrence.
The beautiful Gaspe Peninsula is a significant side-trip to the east, and highly recommended if you've got a few extra days.
From Riviere du Loup, it's a 190 km drive to Quebec City, on Highway 20, all along the south shore of the river ending at Levis, just across the river. If you want to enjoy the charm of French colonial Quebec, get off the highway onto Route 132, to pass through historic villages of La Poctiere, Saint-Jean Port Joli, St-Michelle De Bellechasse, and St-Vallier De Bellechasse.
If you want to catch a bit of Quebec's rural charm, then take the Riviere du Loup - St Simeon ferry across the Saint Laurence River, and cruise the rustic north shore of the St Lawrence, with a detour onto Ille d'Orlean before heading into Quebec City.
The Trans-Canada highway does not pass through, but rather by, Quebec City. Quebec is the only walled city in North America, perched high on a cliff overlooking the River as it narrows, and its attractions reflect both its French heritage and the relics of British colonialism. The city's Old World charms make it a romantic must-see for travellers along the Trans-Canada.
From Montreal, the Trans-Canada heads northwest, as Route 40 in Quebec and then #417 in Ontario, nuzzling beside the Ottawa River, and then moving inland away from the River. The highway heads toward Ottawa, the nation's capital.
The highway (Route 20) is divided between Levis (south of Quebec) and Montreal -- a distance of 110 km. Montreal benefited as a result of its location at the junction of the mighty St Lawrence and the Ottawa River, both important to the early fur trade. It later in the age of steam becoming the major inland seaport for Canada, and the point where cargoes were transferred to trains to and from Canada's vast interior.
Montreal is a vast metropolis, and is said (by the New York Times) the cheapest way to feel like you're in Europe. The city packages a European sense of style into a North American big city, with great shopping, fine dining, and incredible nightlife.
Recently, Quebec opened Autoroute #30, a southern detour (TOLL) route around Montreal, which allows truckers and those not wishing to stop in Montreal to bypass the city.
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