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Old 06-18-2012, 05:21 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,221,895 times
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I haven't been there since about 1972, when I spent a week there in January. It was wonderful. Only one hotel stays open for the winter, and my wife and I were the only guests in the hotel, except a couple of construction engineers who were doing some advance site work on a project their company had bid on for the summer. The hotel was still full service, despite the short guest list -- dinners in the dining room were lavish, in accord with French standards, and there was nothing to do but eat three meals a day and take a daily trudge through the snow to the shipping agent to see if there was any word about then the boat would sail back to Newfoundland.

We got stuck there for three days longer than planned, because a snow storm played hell with the boat schedule. A little boat from Fortune, Newfoundland, was the only way to get there, no cars carried, everybody seasick even on a 2-hour crossing. No airport at all, but a little flight service from Halifax would fly in with Twin Otters a couple of times a week in summer and land on the beach if the wind was right. (I've heard there is a proper airport now.) The boat from Fortune carried mostly cargo in winter, but quite a few Canadians would go over there in summer, and there was a well-developed tourism industry. Nearly all accommodations were in private homes, but there were 3 or 4 hotels open summer only. Nobody there spoke English then, because most visitors were from Quebec, but now tourism has probably completely replaced fishing as the main industry, and there is probably a lot of English spoken

We happened to be there on New Years Day in the year when they switched their currency from the outremer CFA franc to the French Franc proper. Everybody was very confused, because there were no CFA coins, only paper bills, so suddenly people had coins, and had not thought ahead about where on their person they were going to carry coins, which they had never used before. When it was still CFA, it was interesting, because you might buy something and get change that said Gabon or Reunion of Nouvelle Caledonie on it.

There weren't very many cars in St. Pierre at the time, and they didn't plow the streets in winter. People with cars or trucks just put chains on the tires, and pushed through or packed down the snow. But it was quite prosperous. The Paris government paid a substantial stimulus to people living in St. Pierre in order to encourage them to stay there, so people lived just as lavishly as in any town in France. In fact, they had more money than they knew what to do with, because there were few luxuries that made any sense to buy. Most families supplemented their income by taking in tourists in summer. Bastillle Day was the big bash, and most visitors tried to be there for that holiday celebration, when all accommodation might be booked, and arriving visitors would have to double up in rooms with complete strangers, but in a place like St. Pierre, nobody cared.

Canadian custome made a half-hearted effort to see if they could catch anybody smuggling back bottles of champagne, but mostly the formalities were pretty relaxed. Apparently, there is now some kind of car ferry service, because the last time I was in New Brunswick, I saw a car with SPM license plate. But 40 years ago, I had the feeling that most of the people there had never been off the island, to either Canada or France. As for its territorial integrity, keep in mind that until 1947, even Newfoundland was not yet a part of Canada, so SPM and Newfoundland were both just European colonies in the north Atlantic, much the way the French and British keep their colonies separate in the Antilles. French territory there is no more surprising than Guadeloupe or Martinique.

Last edited by jtur88; 06-18-2012 at 05:44 PM..
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Old 06-18-2012, 07:36 PM
 
9,334 posts, read 19,455,420 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Balducci View Post
Canada may not want them, as they would probably not contribute much economically.
You should google st pierre gas reserve
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:40 AM
 
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Gas, yes. And it would eliminate the pesky 200-mile-limit-/-French-fishing-trawler dilemma that seems to rear its ugly head every so often.
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