Elderhostels-Part II
A list of recommended sites are displayed at the end of this article.

Lying north of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River, the Laurentian Mountains cover the northern 90% of Quebec. Nestled at the foot of these mountains is the town of St. Gabriel de Valcartier. On its outskirts, overlooking the Jacques Cartier River valley, is the L’Auberge du Mont, the site of our five day stay in an Elderhostel program. The name means "Inn of the Mountain", but is really the home of Mont St. Sacrement High School, a non-residential 7th to 11th grade school with 700 students. The grounds of the school included a small lake as well as walking trails into the surrounding hills and valley.

We had come to this site to have a first hand experience of what an Elderhostel is like and share the information gained with our readers. We had enrolled for the course of study via the phone (877-426-8056).

For those who are unfamiliar with Elderhostel, it is a non-profit organization serving the educational needs of older adults. Courses of study are found throughout the fifty states and Canada as well as overseas, usually at some educational institute or non-profit site.

The topic for our five-day stay was the history of Quebec including learning about the present political issues as well as the history of the Irish in Quebec. Presenters were well versed in their topics and encouraged lively discussions. A taste of local customs was also included in the course of study.

A total of 29 people attended this course, including 12 couples. Ages ranged from late fifties to eighties. Most of the participants were seasoned attendees at Elderhostel programs, but there were also a few first timers, as my wife and I were. People came from all over the United States including California, Montana, Michigan, Maine, Florida, Connecticut, Maryland, Arkansas, New Hampshire and Illinois as well as one couple from Toronto, Canada. This educational program brings you together with people you would not ordinarily meet and provides you with a sense of the striving for knowledge that transcends age.

In talking to some of the veterans of Elderhostel programs (one couple had been to over 100 programs) we gained some insight into the vast range of the educational experience one gets at the various courses in the Elderhostel program. The thirst for knowledge runs through a large group of the older people in our society. At the Auberge du Mont, they did not come for the accommodations, which were ordinary, nor for the meals which were standard cafeteria style. They came with a thirst for knowledge about a complicated issue. We gained an insight into Irish immigration to Canada and knowledge about the city of Quebec and its surroundings. We also learned of the role that the physical landscape had in developing areas and attracting people.

Time and time again as we interviewed people, the quality of the learning and the socialization experience was the major joy of the five-day experience. "A wonderful mix of people", "a fun group", "intelligent, active people who are friendly and whom I want to see again" were some of the comments expressed by the participants.

One of the necessary factors needed for a good experience at an Elderhostel is an active program coordinator who sets the atmosphere for the educational experience. Kudos to Jean-Pierre Deschenes and his wife Debbie Chakour, their 3 ˝ year old daughter, Eloise, and Sara Seward, the field trip director. The active participation of all the attendees at the program certainly was a big plus factor also. If everyone is willing to contribute a part of themselves, the group becomes a cohesive entity, thrives in the learning experience and has an enriching social experience. In this case twenty-nine people came closer together and while they may not see each other again, all expressed the idea that they were better people as result of their experience. They know that if they happen to be in a certain area of the country where a participant in this program lives, the welcome wagon will be out for them. They also have a foundation to understand the present situation in Canada around Quebec and independence.

The feeling of the group was probably expressed most concisely in a poem that one of the participants, Ginnie Proulx of St. Petersburg Florida wrote at the end of her stay:

Au Revoir Auberge du Mont

For 5 days at the Auberge
29 EH-ers did converge
Our directors extrodinaire
Were Madame Debbie and Jean Pierre
From dawn till dark they did please
And still found time for Eloise
The weather conditions they were told
Could not be hot and not be cold
About Quebec we learned the history

Of Frenchman and their mystery
Of fights and battles; lives and deaths
And how "happy" generals drew their last breaths
Next went to see those special places
With Sara, directoress who was "aces"
So Au Revoir as we take flight
And remember laughing through the night
When Jean Pierre and his great wit
Revealed to us his "unique" bit
From movie stars to belly button
These days will not be soon forgotten.


Below you will find a list of Elderhostel sites that were selected by frequent attendees at Elderhostel programs. They recommended these sites for those interested in exciting and enriching learning experiences.




Lafayette, LA

University of Southwestern Louisiana

Cajun Culture: history, art, music and cuisine

Cow Head/ Gros Morne

(#64034), Newfoundland

Local motel: excellent accommodations, good food (local); super program

Gros Morne Park, Newfoundland

Lake Tahoe, CA

Sierra Community College

Donner Party; gold rush history; transcontinental railroad; local cultural history

Bay Area Classic Learning,

Napa, CA

Bay Area Classic Learning

A variety: music-opera to big band; wine appreciation; middle east literature etc.

University of Texas, San Antonio

University of Texas

Architecture and history of San Antonio; Mexican information; music, art, field trips to missions, art galleries

One week Oahu and one week Maui

University of Hawaii

First week: Pearl harbor survivors memorial; Polynesian culture

Second week: Maui volcanoes, whale watching, art galleries

Fortress Louisberg

Louisberg, Nova Scotia

Parcs Canada

History of the fort and early town. Behind the scene information; reenactment of the 1600’s.

Inland passage to Alaska

University of Alaska

Story of Alaska, its people, and future; whales, eagles, trees, glaciers

Quebec History

Auberge du Mont

History of Quebec City, Irish immigration to Canada; field trips to Quebec city, Montmorency Falls, Ste. Ann de Beaupre; local music

Sedona/Grand Canyon

Yuma college, Arizona

Geology of Grand Canyon/ Sedona. View of Canyon

As we learn of more recommended sites, we will add them to this list. If you would like to recommended a site please let us know at or


We refer you back to the first part of this article: Elderhostels-Part I

Harold Rubin, MS, ABD, CRC & Guest Lecturer
October 21, 1999

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