Visiting Ville-Marie, Quebec: Scenic Promise on a West Coast for Quebec?
Unhurried, scenic town on a 110-kilometre lake at Quebec's western extremity
Let me begin by saying that in much of North America the phrase 'West Coast' (French: Côte-Ouest) often conjures up the vision of a distant Pacific shore at the comparative western extremity of the North American continent, which continues to attract vacationers and emigrants because of its relatively mild climate and quality of life, whether in the US states of California, Oregon and Washington or in the Canadian Province of British Columbia.
Well, in Ontario also in recent years, the term "West Coast" has increasingly been applied to the Ontario's shore of Lake Huron. Thus also, a lakeside resort such as Grand Bend, Ontario has already for many years attracted a seasonal influx of vacationers from Ontario and Michigan alike, and beyond.
In terms of a geographical term which can be applied to a most scenic town on the western extremity of Quebec (French: Québec), it may with some justification be said that the town of Ville-Marie lies on the 110 kilometre-long Lake Temiskaming (French: Lac Témiscamingue). While northern Quebec's James Bay (French: Baie-James) would also certainly qualify as "West Coast", in terms of accessibility Lake Temiskaming would probably score more highly than areas of northern Quebec.
Ville-Marie is situated in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. It is known that in the 17th century there was a trading post at what is now Ville-Marie between French Voyageurs and First Nations. Successively the North-West Company (French: Compagnie du Nord-Ouest) and the Hudson's Bay Company (French: Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson) established local trading post activities, which functioned until 1899.
Agriculture and forestry have traditionally been strong in the area. The town has long been historically associated with oblate community activities of the Roman Catholic Church. Boating activities —a regatta in July attracts many visitors — and sports opportunities such as golf and tennis are strongly connected with the town (2).
As a place that should be better-known, Ville-Marie could be rightly described as a West Coast destination indeed!
(1) Temiskaming means 'deep waters'; clearly, First Nations were very much aware — long before the arrival of Europeans — of the extraordinary depth of Lake Temiskaming: up to 216 metres in places; this may be compared wth Lake Erie's deepest point at 64 metres.
(2) Ville-Marie was created a town in 1962.
Some sourcing: Michelin Guide to Quebec, Quebec: Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., 1996; wikipedia.
Also worth seeing
Fort Témiscamingue , near Ville-Marie, is a National Historic Site which displays the remains of a French trading fort, dating from the 17th century. Off Route 101 there is a noted Enchanted Forest (French: Forêt enchantée) with trees said to have been bent by northerly winds.
Laniel, (distance: 39.8 kilometres) is where the Kipawa River (French: la rivière Kipawa), flows into Lake Kipawa (French: le lac Kipawa); a boathouse is among the local landmarks.
The town of Témiscaming (distance: 87.8 kilometres) has a museum in the former railroad station, and scenic walks.
How to get there: Air Canada flies from Montreal (Aéroport-Montréal-Trudeau) to Rouyn-Noranda (Aéroport de Rouyn-Noranda ), where car rental is available. By road from Rouyn-Noranda (distance: 136 kilometres), take Route 101 south. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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