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2005 Volvo Winter Test Drive: Quebec City, Canada: Event Overview

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Absolutely incredible. These two words sum up perfectly my experience at Volvo’s Winter Test Drive, held on January 19-21, 2005 in Quebec City, Canada. The hotel, events, food, locations and the people all contributed towards making this an absolutely amazing event. Oh yes, and the cars...

Here we test drove the newly restyled 2005 XC70 and the recently released 2005 V50 AWD

Day One

The day started at 4:00 am, up and over to Vancouver International Airport for my 6:00am flight to Quebec by way of a quick Toronto stopover. Weather on the West Coast for had been awful for the previous couple weeks and our ski season was on its last legs due to warm, wet conditions. Thus, I was very much looking forward to a change, even if that meant being subjected to the brutal Eastern winter cold!

Vancouver to TorontoAir Time

A trans-Canadian flight in winter really exemplifies the start contrast of the Canadian topography. Within minutes the green mountainous view changed to the white Coast and Rocky Mountains, from there onto the icy Prairies and the Canadian Shield of Ontario and Quebec. In all, it was a good reminder in that Vancouver is about the only place in Canada where AWD and snow tires aren’t an absolute necessary during the winter months.

We arrived at Quebec City’s Jean Lesage Airport shortly behind schedule, but lucky to have our bags intact due to a baggage handler strike that happened in Toronto just minutes after our departure… Others weren’t so lucky. Upon arrival in Quebec, there was a light snow with temperatures in the negative teens.

Auberge Saint-AntioneThe Hotel: Auberge Saint Antoine

A twenty minute car ride brought us to Auberge Saint-Antoine, one of the finest hotels in the city, as documented by Conde Naste as one of the world’s best for the past three years running.

The boutique hotel is located on a historically significant site in downtown Old-Quebec. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, an original section of the hotel was a historic river-side warehouse. Not much attention was paid to this fact until 1991 when the hotel was being renovated, workers found a number of artifacts scattered about the work site.

Work stopped immediately and an archeological dig was held onsite by the Universite Laval, in cooperation with a whole range of boards and councils including the City of Quebec, the Ministere dArtifactse la Culture de des Communications du Quebec and the Consiel des Monuments et Site du Quebec.

The dig discovered hundreds of small artifacts and today a number of them are displayed throughout the hotel… There was even a small shadowbox in my room featuring small pieces of antique abalone excavated from the site.

After briefly getting acquainted with the hotel, it was time for dinner at Panache, the restaurant at Auberge Saint Antoine. Here I met up with the rest of the group, composed of automotive writers from all over North America and Volvo’s top marketing team. The group also included Anne Belec, this being her first press event as Volvo Cars North America’s president… Fitting considering she was born and raised in the Province of Quebec.

XC70 AWDI also had the opportunity to meet a number of people I’ve known for quite some time through email and phone but never had the chance to personally meet, including Jan Nystrom of the VCOA, George Achorn of Swedespeed.com and Dan Johnson of Volvo Cars North America.

All in all, a great night, but we turned in early as tomorrow was promising to be a busy day! Good thing too, as I was sufficiently wiped from the early morning and long day of travel.

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