If you love winter then Quebec’s vast Mauricie region is the place to go. The region is one of rolling hills and pristine forest, dotted with lakes in spectacular Canadian Shield country. Much of the landscape is accessible from a selection of lodges and resorts that are scattered across the area. They all offer an array of winter activities that make the season fun. None of them are more than a two to 2½ hour drive from either Montreal or Quebec City.
I stayed at Pourvoirie du Lac Blanc in a cute little cottage overlooking Lac Blanc (White Lake) for a night. When our group first showed up at lunch it felt like we’d arrived at a snowmobiler’s convention. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as there are roughly 3,500 kilometres of trails in the Mauricie region alone. They are marked like highways. And the restaurant at Pourvoirie du Lac Blanc was obviously a lunch time favourite.
We had the option to drive a snowmobile or be a passenger. I wimped out and decided I’d just go along for the ride. The calibre of both the snowmobile and our gear blew me away, especially compared to what I experienced on three occasions last winter. Here they give you helmets with full face visors so there’s no wind on the head stealing your body heat. The rest of the gear is very warm but it’s the heated hand grips on the snowmobile itself that really make a difference. And the seat behind the driver is roomier than any others I’ve been on.
Ice fishing was another activity we tried. In Quebec I don’t think you can do the sport justice without a glass of Caribou in your hand. It certainly helped me as I had a fish within minutes of lowering my hook and over about an hour I caught five speckled trout. Our charming guide, Stephane Telmosse says after he delivers a pan full of freshly fried trout “You see girls – I’m good on everything.”
Yet another activity we did was to take a ride into a cabin in the woods via this original 1940 something Bombardier snow vehicle. Even the inside is beautiful with polished wood on the walls.
Pierre Thibeault, a fascinating man who has spent much of his life in the far north, was not only our driver and guide but a storyteller and cook extraordinaire with a zest for life. Over many hours we learned about the north; in particular how you dress to survive and the story of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Pierre also tells us about running the trapper’s cabin in the summer – and the thrill of sleeping in a teepee for people who have never spent any time in the woods.
We end the evening with a meal of stew and bannock inside the now cozy tent followed by a walk back to our cabin under star studded skies. Perfection.
There’s a lot more you can do at Pourvoirie du Lac Blanc if you have the time. Go skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or catch some air as you tube down one of the hills. The resort offers equipment rentals and guides for just about everything. If you need to warm up or you’ve had enough of the outdoors take advantage of the beautiful pool and hot tub at Pourvoirie du Lac Blanc.
And don’t worry if you don’t speak French or you speak it badly. People here are very friendly.
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A big thank you to Mauricie Tourism for hosting my visit.