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The Laurentians, Ouebec

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Exceptional Snowmobiling: The Laurentians, Quebec

Fly And Ride!

 

by Scott A. Sumner

    This winter has been a different one for many areas of North America with less snow than normal.  Even at my hometown area of  Thunder Bay, Ontario the snow conditions were not as abundant as  usual. It was time to travel to an area that traditionally has great  snow conditions- Quebec! Snowmobiling in Quebec has always been the  best for me. The people there just seem to have a passion for the sport that is unmatched elsewhere on the planet!
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    My trip this year began with two quick Air Canada flights leaving  at 7am and after a stop in Toronto, arriving at the very unique Mont  Tremblant airport (La Macaza). When stepping off the plane Serge  Lariviere who along with his wife Isabel own the airport first  greeted me! It was off to a fireplace and leather couches to greet my  hosts and riding partners for this trip!



After a nice lunch in this log structure terminal building we changed  into our snowmobile suits and walked out front to our waiting 2016 Ski Doo sleds! It really is a sweet set up and very unique in the  world. As we were quickly on our way, we passed with in 30 feet of an  idling private jet that had just landed at La Macaza- fun to see!

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    Nicolas Morin, owner of the first lodge we would stay at,  Pourvoirie Cecaurel and Misha Beauregard , snowmobile guide and  myself were quickly on our way for a 100 km ride. It was a beautiful  ride on well-groomed trails with a stop at a very nice waterfall  along the way.  This area of the Laurentians, just north of Mont  Tremblant, is home to many 4 to 5 star lodges to stay.
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    “Pourvoirie Cecaurel was the first owned by my father in 1985  and I purchased it from him in 2000. The lodge was started originally  in 1955 and I was first a fishing guide here at age 10.  We are  located on two sandy points in summer and winter,” said Nicolas  Morin. “  There is lots of area to explore. We have a lodge  restaurant, marina, fly shop, a museum which has recently won a  prize, a campground, 12 rental boats, 12 canoes to use on our 7  kilometers lake, tent ready to camp and full equipment. We have 14  cottages, 100 camp sites and 40 docks in the marina.”


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    The clients of Pourvoirie Cecaurel come from Montreal, Ottawa, Europe especially France and the USA. The Mont Tremblant airport is about 60 km away by snowmobile or 35 minutes by car.


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“ We have trails right to our restaurant and are at the trail head. You can also do backcountry snowmobiling in a beautiful area here- it  is possible and really popular. We have a great BRP dealer here-  Constantineau Mont Laurier with 150 rental sleds available each year  which are brand new,” said Nicolas who was a construction manager in  Montreal previously and build all the structures at Pourvoirie  Cecaurel including the office, the cottages and main restaurant 
building. “ I love my job because I can do construction as well as  talk to all the clients here. A good snowmobile ride for me is with  some friends to the top of the lake with a small fire and we eat  lunch.”

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    The best way to ride the snowmobile trails in Quebec is with a  guide. We were fortunate on this trip to have Misha Beauregard, a  snowmobile guide and outfitter since year 2000. He grew up in Ottawa  but has lived in the area for over 15 years.  Misha also does guiding 
for bear hunting and woodcock hunting with dogs.
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   “  You can land at the Mont Tremblant Airport, change into your  suite and jump on the snowmobiles. We had time this afternoon and  stopped in at waterfall, at some look out points and then came to  Nicola’s lodge.  The trip in to the waterfall is about 20 km in and  out so the first day we did 95 km after landing at the airport at  11:45 Am.” said Misha. “ We will be going to Mt Laurier to visit  the rental centre tomorrow and then to Devils Mountain, which the 
highest point in the north part of the Laurentians at 750 meters  high. We will also see the Windigo waterfall on our way to the  Pourvoirie Club Fontbrune. There are many lodges in the high  Laurentians, at least 8 or 9 to choose from with different quality  and different trails. There is gas and food everywhere.”

   Misha loves riding snowmobiles and puts on 10,000 to 15,000  km  per year. Most of his clients are from France and now Brazil as well  as the USA. He wants to open new markets in Ontario and the rest of  Canada for these unique fly in snowmobile trips.

     After a great breakfast at Pourvoirie Cecaurel we were off for a150 km ride to our next lodge  destination, Club Fontbrune.  Eric  Nadeau is the President of Club Fontbrune and owned  the facility for  13 years after buying it from a Belgium owner. Previously the lodge  was closed in the winter but he slowly started building new cabins,  opened a dining room and new bar and added snowmobile trips.

   “We have 18 snowmobiles for rent that are new each year  with all  the gear and we can rent more if required. We opened for snowmobiling  this year December 22 but it depends on the snow.  We have had a good  season so far with lots of snowmobile clients and a good area to 
ride,” said Eric Nadeau. “ Our clients are from Quebec, Europe  and the US.  This area has snow this season while some areas down  south have less snow. The rate to stay is $109 per person with  breakfast and dinner. We have 16 cabins and can host up to 98 people 
with a staff of 17 to 20 to make your stay a good one!.”
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    It was fun to have Simon Constantineau, GM & Vice President of  the Constantineau Mont Laurier BRP dealership riding with us and  staying in our cabin at Club Fontbrune.  His father started the  business in 1958 as a gas station and then added tractors with Massey  Ferguson.

   “  We started with snowmobiles first as a Ski Whiz dealer, then  Polaris until in 1973 with BRP Ski Doo. There was another dealer that  had a fire and we had the offer to get the Ski Doo brand. Our market  share is good here and we are big in rental sleds.” said Simon Constantineau. “The rental business is very good and was started by  my father 25 years ago with 2 machines then. My grand father was  still in the business then and didn’t want snowmobile rentals  but  my father started a separate company. Today we have gone up to as 
many as 350 rental sled but now have 150. The rental sleds are brand new each year.  We also rent side by sides, Spyder motorcycles,  ATV’s and personal watercraft.”

    The clients of Constantineau Mont Laurier BRP for snowmobile  rentals are 40 to 50 % European. Their  facilities have expanded on  the same site, buying other warehouses and now own a full street  block.  There is a staff of 50 people at Constantineau Mont Laurier BRP.

   Simon Constantineau is a graduate engineer that  previously  worked for BRP in R & D at Valcourt. “ The sport had been part of  my life from the beginning being born into it and always working at  the dealership.  My  main goal was to be part of the engineering team  of BRP but I  decided to make our life here at Mont Laurier and  carry on the family dealership,” said Simon who loves riding  snowmobiles. “ In 2006 I started back country riding and from there 
really enjoy it and now it is most of my snowmobiling. I get a Summit  sled each year  but still can do some trail riding. Life is good and   we are doing well. It is about working hard to keep the customer  happy and the market share strong.”

   In Quebec food is an important part of their lives and we had   another excellent breakfast before beginning our journey to Pavillon  Beauregard Lodge. On the way we stopped for lunch at Notawissi and  saw not only snowmobilers but also many out on their ATV’s!

    It was fun to stop and talk with Steve Aubet, President of Club  Pitman snowmobile club. ?In this club they have 266 km of trail and  there are 140 members. There are 11 clubs here in this area all  together. In Quebec there is a license fee for snowmobiles from the  government each year that costs $40.00 and this club gets about  $70,000 per year from these fees to operate the trail  with their  total budget of $110,000. The trail permit in Quebec is $300.00.

   “  We have two groomers. I have been with the club for 31 years  and first began in 1970. The season started before the Christmas this  year but  it is better after Christmas.”

   On the way to our next overnight destination we stopped at  Windigo  that offers  4 star lodging and a restaurant.  There are 25  chalets with up to 5 bedrooms each with  their own bathroom and 20  condos  with 1 bedroom. Their restaurant is in a log chalet with 
Quebec cuisine.

   “ We  offer skating snowshoeing, cross country skiing and provide  all the equipment.  We also have activities like fat bikes  available.  We opened in 2003 at first with no motors  but they were  allowed in 2007 when we added snowmobile and ATV’s again. We are 4  star rental tourism and want the people to feel free and rent for two  or three nights. We don’t get inside your unit unless  you ask.  Mostly our guests are from Montreal, Ottawa and Europe. We are doing  well and working hard with good clients coming back, so it is  encouraging. The area is well known for snowmobiling, a niche product  with an upscale lodging.” said Marc, the GM of Windigo

    Benoit Chevalier is the GM of Pavillon Beauregard Lodge located  in Laurentide about 3 1/2  hours drive from Montreal and 1 1/2  hours  from Mont Laurier. This would be our next destination for our third  overnight stay in the Laurentians!

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  “ This building existed from early 60 ‘s as a private club. This  is the first year we have opened in the winter in 8 years. Our  current owners are from Montreal and have sent multi millions to make  the property five stars. For example we have just run  electrical poles lines 26 km here. Before it was only diesel generators,” said Benoit.

    At Pavillon Beauregard Lodge you can do off trial and on trail  snowmobiling with good snow.  They are by reservation only so you  have to call ahead to get the proper services and menu. They can also  do corporate meetings with a main lodge, conference room, 5 cabin 
with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, 2 cabins with  2 bedrooms and 2 with  only one bedroom. In total they can host  24 to 48 people  at one time.

    “ We want you to be cozy here in a pristine setting with a 7  mile lake and 110 square miles on our property. Snowmobiles pay $165  per night, per person, with breakfast and a 5-course dinner included.  We can rent snowmobiles for a group. I feel very lucky to work here. 
You can even helicopter in to our landing pad  and we will get ready  for five star services as needed. “ said Benoit.
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    Our snowmobile trip included a ride of 500 km over 4 days and it  was now time to return home to the Mont Tremblant airport for the 4  hour trip home to Thunder Bay. Mt Tremblant has 18 flights per week  from Toronto and Montreal with Porter and Air Canada. It really is a  very unique experience and should be experienced by many. You will  ride a 2016 Ski Doo sled of your choice and have a first class time  with great people to help you every step of the way on your  snowmobile adventure!

Many thanks to Nicolas, Misha, Simon and everyone for their help on  this trip!




www.cecaurel.com

www.fontbrune.ca

www.notawissi.com

www.lewindigo.com

www.laurentians.com

www.pourvoirieinukshuk.com

www.pavillonbeauregard.com

www.fconstantineau.com





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