When I learned that this year’s national medical education conference was taking place in Quebec City, the first thought that crossed my mind was “I need to have a drink in the bar in the Château Frontenac.” An odd first thought? Not really. Here I must pause to make a confession.
The only bar I’ve been kicked out of in my life was the Bar St-Laurant in the Château.
When I mention this to those who know me well I get a puzzled look as I’m a pretty quiet, tame fellow by any standard. But it’s true. Earlier in my life, it was made known to me in no uncertain terms that my presence in that bar was no longer accepted.
The punch-line? I was 13 or 14. I was with my Mom, Dad and a friend of our family from Quebec City. A very formal waiter with a white towel over his arm leaned in to our table and in a quiet voice reminded my Mom and Dad that I was too young to be in the bar. With that, Dad put $20 into my hand and I was off into old town Quebec to make my own fun for a couple of hours.
With that fond childhood memory brought back to life, I made my way to the Château on my first afternoon in Quebec. This time, my presence was warmly welcomed. I ordered up an Old Fashioned, and soon it and some delicious bar snacks hit the table. The drink on this afternoon was tinged with a bit of melancholy. The friend of our family who helped bring me into this bar more than twenty years ago passed away just a week earlier (in fact, my Mom and Dad had been up to Quebec City for his funeral five days before I arrived). With great memories flooding back, I raised this glass to toast the memory of a good man:
I chatted with the bartender and told him my story and that I was happy to be welcomed back. He got a great laugh out of it and offered to take this picture of me to commemorate my return. The drink was delicious and it was a great way to kick off my five day stay in Quebec.