The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have left Montreal and will spend the rest of the weekend in Quebec City.

The couple boarded HMCS Montreal on Saturday night for a trip down the St. Lawrence River toward the provincial capital, where they were to arrive Sunday morning.

While in Montreal on Saturday, Prince William and wife Kate visited one of the country's largest and oldest culinary institutes, where they participated in a cooking class and ate a meal prepared by some of the school's chefs.

As they arrived at the Quebec Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, they were greeted by hundreds of people outside.

Inside, the couple learned to prepare several dishes, including a lobster soufflé, culinary student Nathalie Des Rosiers said. She said the meal was a showcase of local ingredients, such as Charlevoix lamb, wild mushrooms and fiddleheads.

"It's really a Quebec-inspired meal," she said.

Earlier Saturday, William and Kate toured Montreal's Sainte-Justine hospital. The hospital is for young people, including cancer and neo-natal patients, some of whom the couple visited during their tour. It brought a smile 13-year-old Mohammed Azem's face.

"I was speechless," he said.

The visit meant a lot to the hospital's patients and staff, said Nancy Poirier, a pediatric cardiac surgeon at Sainte-Justine.

"It just goes to show how they are aware of their position and how they can help different causes," she said.

Not welcomed by all

The couple was greeted by large crowds of well-wishers, but not everyone is pleased to have them in Quebec.

There were anti-monarchist protesters outside the hospital and the culinary institute when William and Kate visited. One of them, Michael Renaud, came carrying a banner that read "Go home, parasites."

"It's five million bucks that the taxpayer pays for, and I think it's totally ridiculous," he said.

Members of the Quebec Resistance Network — a fringe pro-independence group that disrupted a 2009 visit to Montreal by Prince Charles — have promised to show up to protest against the monarchy. No royal walkabouts are planned in the province this weekend because of concerns about security, the CBC's Rosemary Barton said. The protesters said there will be larger demonstrations when the couple visits Quebec City on Sunday.

Even earlier Saturday, in Ottawa, the royal couple met with veterans from the Korean War, the Second World War and Afghanistan, as well as Second World War brides, at a reception at the Canadian War Museum.

About 45,000 women left Europe and came to Canada as war brides, and most of them were from Britain.

'They were so gracious'

The royal newlyweds fell behind schedule after taking their time meeting with people at the museum, with Kate at one point sitting down to continue a chat.

William left a positive impression, too, Second World War veteran John Gooch said.

"It was just the best thing that could happen to me," he said. "They were so gracious, so wonderful to see, and I'm very, very proud be here and to be part of this."

The couple has run slightly late throughout the first three days of their visit to Canada as they make their way through crowds of people waiting to meet them.  

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge unveiled a massive mural recently acquired by the war museum from a residence in London. The mural was painted by Augustus John.

Symbol of love

William and Kate's first duty Saturday was to plant a tree in the royal grove on the grounds of Rideau Hall, the residence of the governor general, after which they got a chance to chat with long-time married couples.

Some of the people invited to the reception share an anniversary with the newlyweds, and some have been married as long as 50 or 60 years, Barton said.

The couple planted a Canadian hemlock, a tree with a lifespan of 800 years, according to a statement from the Governor General's office.

"They have chosen it as a symbol of love and marriage and are planting a similar tree that was planted by the emperor and empress of Japan on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary," Barton reported.

William and Kate shook hands with the official who handed them the spade, then shovelled dirt onto the already-planted tree.

The spade, a ceremonial tool used for official tree plantings at Rideau Hall, is the same one Prince Charles used when he planted a tree with Lady Diana on their first trip to Canada.

Kate laughed as she shovelled dirt wearing a grey Catherine Walker dress and high heels, but was rewarded with loud applause from the crowd. Diana, William's mother, often wore Walker's designs, and Kate's mother wore a Catherine Walker dress to her daughter's wedding in April.

Events Saturday were more low-key compared to the royal couple's round of appearances on Canada Day.