Destination

coucher du soleil

A few kms from Saint-Sauveur, the small town of Sainte-Adèle stretches along 120² km on both sides of Rivière du Nord, in the heart of the legendary Pays d’En-haut. Claude-Henri Grignon had set his cult classic novel Un homme et son péché here, bringing fame to the village throughout French Canada. The story unfolds right before the arrival of Curé Labelle’s legendary P’tit Train du Nord, which finally linked Sainte-Adèle to Montréal in 1891. This was just before the region started welcoming skiers and tourists, which since have become the main economic engine of the city.

Sainte-Adèle owes its name to its founder, Augustin-Norbert Morin, a lawyer, journalist and politician. He founded the newspaper La Minerve, became the leader of the Parti Patriote, and later deputy of the Parti Rouge. In 1855, he named the new village in honour of his wife, Adèle Raymond. As the Prime Minister of Lower Canada from 1851 to 1855, we owe this reformer the social abolition of the seigneurie inherited by the French Monarchy in 1854. He also contributed to the foundations of Morin-Heights and Val-Morin, a few years before the arrival of Curé Labelle.

Only 64 km away north of Montréal, Sainte-Adèle has since become a renowned and unique crossroads for lodging accommodations and fine dining. In 2013, the cultural life here was stimulated by the opening of Place des citoyens, presenting exhibitions, shows, musical concerts and conferences. This performing arts venue offers an extensive, year-round program. In the heart of Claude-Henri Grignon park, the Place des Citoyens also hosts the Marché public de Sainte-Adèle in the summer. For the past 65 years, Pine Cinema has been an institution in Québec, giving an important place to independent cinema. Lastly, the art galleries and museums complete the cultural visits in Sainte-Adèle.

086 Cb618 C076 4 F84 9 F6 F 209140 Ded6 B8
But Sainte-Adèle is first and foremost a place to enjoy the outdoors, reputed for its magnificent Lac Rond, a real gem located in the heart of town, as well as its impressive hiking trails and bike path circuit, its equestrian and golf centres, its snowmobile tracks as well as 3 ski resorts.

In 1991, 100 years after its arrival in Sainte-Adèle, the layout of the P’tit Train du Nord train tracks gave way to the longest linear park in Canada, with a 230 km bike path linking Montréal to Mont-Laurier up in Hautes-Laurentides. The project was inaugurated in 1996, more than 25 years ago.

the Lachine Canal, you can discover some of the oldest neighbourhoods of the city, the only ones outside the faubourgs east of Old Montréal (now the Village) that were massively built back when horses ruled the streets. As in the Village, there are still carriage gates that lead into stables. This was before the very British urban concept of alleys was introduced, in the second half of the 19th century.

The redevelopment of Griffintown profoundly transformed Notre-Dame St. which had been the area’s main commercial artery in the 19th century. This was preceded by the restructuring of Little-Burgundy, which had largely gentrified the neighbourhood. It’s where the black Anglophone community was concentrated in the early 20th century, and the birthplace of Montréal’s jazz scene. Also, the redevelopment of the outskirts of the canal south of Notre-Dame further transformed the artery where antique dealers elected residence. Cafés, restaurants and trendy bars began appearing, breathing new life into Notre-Dame St. This renewal stretches to the limits of the downtown area, Peel St. and down at Atwater market in Saint-Henri.

In Pointe-St-Charles, you should definitely visit the Saint-Gabriel house. It’s one of the rare 17th century buildings still standing on the island of Montréal, and the oldest farm house as well. Built by François Le Ber around 1660, this beautiful home hosted the King’s daughters until the year 1673. It was also used as a sewing room and small school. The house was largely destroyed by fire in 1693; only the creamery and the outhouse where untouched by the flames. In 1698, it was rebuilt on the foundations of the original buildings’. Today the house is a museum reminding us of Montréal’s lifestyle during the New France era.

Many people of the gay community have chosen to elect residence in Verdun, south of the canal. First in Ile-des-Soeurs, where many artists and creators moved into the new housing developments along the river. Then others moved to the very heart of Verdun, a former suburb now annexed to Montréal, attracted by the affordable prices. This has largely contributed to revitalizing of Wellington St., the main commercial artery of the neighbourhood.

Vieux-Québec and Vieux-Port

QuebecChateauFrontenacchamplain

Walking in the streets of Vieux-Québec is like following in the steps of the pioneers who gave birth to this nation. Founded by Samuel de Champlain as a trading post in 1608, the colony first developed around l’Habitation de Québec before expanding into the first streets traced around the Place Royale in the heart of the Vieux-Port. Restored in the early 1970s, this historical district brings us back in time to the capital of Nouvelle-France (New France) at the end of the 17th century. This was the era of Louis XIV, a bust of whom adorns the area. As I myself am a descendant of Mathurin Gagnon, who was one of the first merchants of Québec and whose home and retail store were located at the current site of the Sault-au-Matelot park (or Parc de l’Unesco), walking on the cobblestones of these historic sites is like reconnecting with the history of our roots in this country. A few steps away, Place Royale is the main site of the annual Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France, recreating the French colonial era of its original inhabitants.

In the Vieux-Port, one must absolutely visit the Musée de la Civilisation. The neighborhood is home to many gay-friendly establishments, among them the restaurant Marie-Clarisse, which was opened at the foot of the Casse-Cou staircase by nenowned chef Serge Bruyère.

Heading up to Haute-ville, one can admire the elements of fortification which have made Québec unique, for it is the only still-fortified city in North America. It is the neighborhood commonly reffered to as Vieux-Québec. Built at the end of the 19th century near the Citadelle fort, the hotel Château Frontenac rises above Place Royal on one side of the Terrasse Dufferin. The latter is a splendid walkway offering a spectacular view of the area and is perfect for romantic strolls. One can easily understand why the founders of Québec chose this strategic spot to establish the colony, which would become the capital of New France, then Lower Canada and finally, Québec.

The gay lifestyle took root fairly early in Vieux-Québec. The Sauna-hôtel Hippocampe on Mac Mahon Street, the oldest gay establishment still operating in the province (where some might recognize the interiors used for Robert Lepage’s film Le Confessionnal), has been open for over four decades. The owner, Yvon Pépin, had previously tended bar in many Vieux-Québec clubs, in a time when homosexual life was still mostly underground.

André Gagnon