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

New helmet regulations for Intrawest

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Oct 1, 6:42 PM

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Six months after actress Natasha Richardson died following a fall at the Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec, the company that operates the facility has announced helmet requirements at all its North American resorts.

Vancouver-based Intrawest announced Thursday that when the ski season begins in a few weeks, it will recommend all skiers and snowboarders wear helmets.

The headgear will be mandatory for children and teens enrolled in ski and snowboard programs and for any student, regardless of age, taking part in freestyle terrain park programs.

“The objective is to raise the awareness of helmet use and the obligation of everyone to ski and ride in a controlled and responsible manner,” said Ian Galbraith, spokesman for Intrawest.

Galbraith said the move is an important “first step” that will increase awareness of the importance of helmets. But the company decided not to make them mandatory across the board.

“It’s an evolutionary thing. At this point, it’s a personal choice whether resort guests want to wear helmets or not,” he said.

Some may balk at even the limited helmet rules for children and teens, Galbraith said, but “we feel it’s the right way to go and it’s really the way the industry is heading.”

He said the new rules have been in the works for some time and are not a response to any particular incident.

However, the death of Richardson at Mont Tremblant earlier this year focused attention on the issue, although the new rules would not have forced Richardson, an adult, to don a helmet during her private ski lesson.

The 45-year-old actress, wife of actor Liam Neeson, died of a blood clot on the brain two days after the fall.

The Canadian Standards Association, which recommends skiers and snowboarders wear helmets, has said they can reduce the risk of head injury by 60 per cent.

“Ski hills making it mandatory is certainly going to help raise awareness,” said Anthony Toderian, spokesman for the association.

But “like any rule or law or any regulation, it can only go so far. It really needs to be the public themselves that recognize and be aware that these things can happen,” he said.

According to the Canadian Ski Council, there were about 4.2 million Canadian skiers and snowboarder in the 2007-2008 season.

Statistics from the U.S. show that nearly 50 per cent of skiers and snowboarders voluntarily donned helmets last season, up from 25 per cent six years earlier.

Intrawest said it will also update its advertising images to feature skiers and snowboarders wearing helmets. The company operates nine ski resorts in North America, including Mount Tremblant in Quebec, Panorama Mountain near Invermere, B.C., and Whistler Blackcomb, which will host alpine events for the 2010 Winter Games.

 

Helmets can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by 80%.  Here's my ski helmet on a beautiful day this year at La Reserve (St. Donat).

Helmets can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by 80%. Here's my ski helmet on a beautiful day this year at La Reserve (St. Donat).

In my opinion: Although a step in the right direction by Intrawest it should have gone further making it mandatory for all of its guests.  The government is still too slow and must legislate mandatory helmets for cyclists, skiers and snowboarders.  Cote Saint-Luc has been a pioneer in helmet legislation in Canada and I am proud to have championed this issue since first elected in 1990. Read more on my posts on this topic here or by searching “helmets” on this blog.

Letter to the editor, Montreal Gazette, Oct. 6, 2009

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À mon avis: Même si un pas dans la bonne direction par Intrawest, il aurait dû faire obligatoire pour l’ensemble de ses clients. Le gouvernement est encore trop lent et doit légiférer la porte du casque obligatoire pour les cyclistes, skieurs et snowboarders. Cote Saint-Luc a été un pionnier dans la législation du casque au Canada et je suis fier d’avoir défendu cette question depuis ma première élection en 1990. Pour en savoir plus sur mes posts sur ce sujet en cherchant “helmets” sur ce blog.

On helmets and safety

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The recent tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson after a fall on the beginner run at Mont-Tremblant underscores the critical need for helmet legislation across Quebec.

Cote Saint-Luc became the first municipality in Canada to enact a bylaw making bike helmets mandatory 18 years ago and we called upon Quebec to take action province-wide.  Yet no Quebec helmet law exists to date and preventable injuries and even deaths occur each year.    It is a shame that Quebec has yet to take action.

More than 80% of traumatic brain injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet.

As an avid cyclist and having served five years on the Canadian Ski Patrol I cannot emphasize how important it is to wear a proper helmet for biking, in-line skating, skiing, ice skating and tobogganing.

You can search this blog for more on helmets or click the links below.

And if you feel as I do, please call your Member of the National Assembly.

Trauma and injury prevention, Montreal Children’s Hospital

CBC Living Montreal: Injury prevention – helmets