Beautiful Laurentian bike ride through history on Ptit Train du Nord


If you’re headed up north with bikes for the day, weekend or vacation you must already have heard of the Ptit Train du Nord recreation path that runs more than 200 kms from St. Jerome to Mont Laurier. Indeed, it is part of the Trans Canada Trail that spans the entire country. Our family has enjoyed the trail for years, choosing different segments most weekends. We used to pull the kids in a bike trailer till they finally managed two-wheelers on their own. What a fun family outing, sometimes lugging picnic lunches, other times stopping at the ice cream or sandwich shops along the way.

I had read about a newly paved section and decided to make that our Labour Day outing so we packed up the bikes and headed up the 117 to St. Faustin-Lac Carré.

The St. Faustin train station was built in 1893

The old train stations at each town are a delight to explore. Well preserved and exhibiting old photos of yesteryear, I can just imagine what it was like to take the voyage by train from Montreal, way up into the Laurentian Mountains. On today’s journey, I imagined my dad’s train ride to St. Faustin station in 1940. He vacationed in Lac Carré at Cantor’s Square Lake Inn, for just $15 a week!

Cantor’s Square Lake Inn, St. Faustin, Qc. Samuel Cantor, his wife Rachel, and brother Myer Cantor bought the Inn in 1935 and owned it together until the death of Myer in 1945. When Rachel died in 1961 the Inn was sold. It burned to the ground one year later, never to be rebuilt.

The St. Faustin-Lac Carré station is a meeting point in the town. The grounds are well groomed with outdoor artistic pieces, playground, a petoncle court and even a metal tree with heart shaped red locks with the names of lovers and their important dates (haven’t seen that since Paris). There is a lovely café and a couple of ice cream shops to suit your taste.

We decided to ride from St. Faustin to St. Jovite, aka Centre-Ville Mont Tremblant, a distance of 12.5 km. The asphalt was smooth as can be and most of the northbound ride was slightly sloped downhill so I enjoyed the breeze and sights without pondering the return uphill trip. In 30 just minutes we arrived at our destination. Along the way we saw beautiful views of the Riviere du Nord which hugs the trail much of its length.

There’s wildlife, farms, lovely old homes and places to stop and relax along the way. We saw butterflies and ducks on this trip. Previously we’ve seen deer.

I decided to explore and take pictures on the slower southbound climb. I hope you’ll enjoy my shots and come and see for yourself.

Many thanks to the good folks who maintain the Ptit Train du Nord and to their sponsors who provide the funding for this magnificent, free recreational gem.

Happy Cycling!

Lovely old Quebec homesteads to see along the Ptit Train du Nord
Riviere du nord, as scene from the Ptit Train du Nord, St. Faustin – Lac Carré
Beautiful colours and gorgeous homes along the bike trail
The views while cycling along the Ptit Train du Nord
Judy and Barry enjoying the warm breeze on the trail
Lovers locks in St. Faustin – Lac Carré
The Millette farm, passed down through the generations
Famille Millette farm equipment preserved for younger generations to explore
Old dam wheel to control water levels along the Riviere du Nord
Plenty of distraction for the little ones along the trail
Barry studying all the trail options in the Tremblant area
Step down into Lac Carré

Le Ciné-Parc Belle Neige inauguré

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A new, fun pastime has arrived for families who frequent the Laurentians. Belle Neige in Val David opened a Drive In Theatre this week. They will also feature a public market on Fridays through Sundays all summer long.

So far only French language presentations are publicized. I’m awaiting word from the promoters as to whether or not English language tracks will be available. I will post an update when available.

The hill was originally opened by Saul and Henry Fenster way back in 1963. Ever since it has been a go to location for young Montreal ski families with ski instructors dressed up in bunny costumes, a magic carpet for beginners, daycare and a huge cafeteria.

See the article below from the local Sainte Agathe newspaper and see you at the Drive In

ISABELLE HOULE – Le Ciné-Parc Belle Neige a été officiellement inauguré le 17 mai et ouvrira ses portes au grand public le vendredi le 24 mai. Tout l’été, plusieurs films seront présentés afin de divertir toute la famille.

Source: Le Ciné-Parc Belle Neige inauguré

Globe and Mail letters: Linguistic purity

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Globe and Mail, Letters, Jan. 18, 2013.  Click to enlarge.

Globe and Mail, Letters, Jan. 18, 2013. Click to enlarge.

Read Globe article

Ste. Agathe dedication of House of Israel

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Last week I attended the re-dedication of the House of Israel in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts.  This is one of the most unique Quebec synagogues, now catering mainly to weekenders and vacationers in the Laurentians.  After a couple of generations of thriving with a small local Jewish community, Rabbi Emanuel Carlebach took over the synagogue from his late father and revived the centre over many years.  With a major fundraising campaign and renovation complete it was time to invite the whole community out to celebrate. 



Hundreds turned out on the hot Sunday in July at the corner of St. Henri and St. Albert streets, where the Shul has stood for some 67 years.  Members of the weekender Jewish community and local Ste-Agathoises alike took part in singing, dancing, Israeli-Quebecois cuisine (Kosher Poutine!) and pony rides and inflatable games for the kids. 

D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman was on hand along with his son and grandson as was former Saint-Jean Baptiste Society president Guy Bouthillier.  Bouthillier told me, in impeccable English, how deep his Jewish connections are.  In fact, he studies at Chabad of Westmount several times each week.  His presence speaks volumes of the work that Rabbi Carlebach and the Jewish community have done to bring together communities to ensure a rich and respectful experience in this beautiful Laurentian town. 

Glenn J. Nashen and Guy Bouthillier

Read more here:   The Jewish Rural Experience, Montreal Gazette

Watch it here on on CTV News