Beautiful Laurentian bike ride through history on Ptit Train du Nord

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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

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.

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40 years in the mayor’s seat of Saint-Lin-Laurentides

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Meeting Mayor André Auger

Yesterday I had the good fortune of a chance meeting with Mayor André Auger of Ville de Saint-Lin-Laurentides.

Saint-Lin-Laurentides was created in March 2000 with the merger of the municipality of Saint-Lin (founded 1836 and first settled in 1807) and the city of Laurentides (founded 1883). The population now stands at more than 16,000 inhabitants.

The current mayor  will celebrate 40 years of political life in October 2011. The town is named in honour of St. Lin, who was the second Pope.

I met Mayor Auger quite by chance having stopped in at the local tourist office in search of a map and some tourist guides to the Lanaudiere region.  It was St. Jean Baptiste Day, also known as La Fete Nationale, and we were out for a rainy day drive toward the Laurentians.  On my way out of the quaint centre a distinguished, well dressed man extended his hand to welcome me and introduced himself as the mayor.

“Well, what a coincidence, I’m also municipally elected,” I responded in French as I shook his hand. Mayor Auger proudly told me about his lovely town and promptly invited me to his gala 40th anniversary dinner that will be held in his honour in the autumn. “40 years?  How many other mayors are there with such seniority in Quebec?” I asked with great interest.  “There’s just me,” Mayor Auger replied.

Home of Canada's seventh Prime Minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier

St. Lin is also made famous as Sir Wilfrid Laurier is a native son. He was the first francophone to become Prime Minister. He was also son of the first mayor of Saint-Lin, M. Carolus Laurier. Since 1938, the birthplace of Sir Wilfred Laurier has been a national historic site, open to visitors at 945, 12th Avenue.

Although my visit here was very short I noted  how lovely the town seemed, just a short distance from the Laurentian Autoroute.  The Rivière de l’Achigan (translates as Bass River) crosses the city. The park located in the heart of the village is a beautiful spot with several picnic tables and opportunities to cast off for fishing enthusiasts.

The mayor pointed out that the river is transformed in winter into a 2 kilometre skating rink along with a walking trail and cross-country skiing along the shores; in summer, boats fill the docks that are available for free.

I will definitely return to spend some relaxing time in this beautiful corner of Quebec.  Congratulations to Mayor Auger on this important anniversary year and Happy Fete St. Jean!

Bonne 40ieme anniversaire Maire André Auger