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LA SEIGNEURIE DU TRITON
This "outfitter", as some lodges are called in Canada, was built in 1893 for the huntin' and fishin' enthusiast. However, these days you can paddle a canoe, hike on a dozen trails or simply relax on the verandah admiring the glorious views of Lac Edouard. Tucked away in the woods and accessible only by boat, Triton has played host to luminaries including Roosevelt, Truman and Churchill. The look is old-style rustic with wood-panelled walls and hunting trophies (moose heads and stuffed animals), while meals can feature game such as the wapiti stew (a type of elk) I sampled. Fisher folk have a river and 12 lakes to seek out a trout or two.
What bliss to soak in a bubbling outdoor tub after a hard day's bear-watching and beaver-spotting. Hotel Sacacomie is poised on the edge of the huge lake of the same name, whose 42 kilometre shoreline can only be truly appreciated by taking a seaplane flight over this expanse of forest, located 90 minutes from Montreal. A modern take on the classic pine-log cottage, the lodge has huge suites and guest rooms with fireplaces and that must-have Canadian feature, the Nordic spa. This indoor-outdoor area of hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms and cold waterfalls is a haven of peace and tranquillity, complete with lake views. Activities include canoeing and hiking by day and sunset walks to view black bears and cute dam-building beavers, led by a genuine bear trapper-turned-wildlife guide. Famous former guests include Johnny Depp, who holed up there during the shooting of the 2004 movie Secret Window.
LE BALUCHON ECO RESORT
If playing cowboy and rounding up a herd of long-haired highland cattle gets the mojo running, then head to Le Baluchon Eco Resort, where this adrenalin-pumping activity is just one of a dozen on offer. Spread over 40 hectares, the lodge, about 50 kilometres from the town of Trois Rivieres, occupies the site of a former sawmill, now fully reforested. Hotel rooms are clustered in two-storey timber and stone pavilions, either in the forest or beside the Riviere du Loop; the picturesque grounds have a little church, a windmill, waterfalls and quaint bridges over the river. Winter pursuits include dog sledding and snow-shoeing, or soaking in the Nordic spa hot tubs.
PARC AVENTURES CAP JASEUX
Here's an outdoor haven for the real adventurer, who likes their accommodation just a little quirky. How about spending the night in a silver sphere suspended in the woods, in a treehouse high above the forest floor or in a white dome with views over the majestic Saguenay Fiord. The sphere, with a glass panel on one side, sleeps two in a comfortable, space-age set-up, while the treehouses and dome sleep four. It's a long climb (via some 25 timber stairs) from treehouse to outdoor ecological loo, while both the two spheres and the lone dome have private access to separate eco loos – all part of the adventure. This is Quebec's most innovative accommodation, while thrill-seekers will love the high-ropes and sea kayaking on the fiord.
Get in touch with your spiritual side staying at this monastery dedicated to St Antoine (St Anthony) on the shores of Lake Bouchette. The hermitage, run by the Capuchin religious order, welcomes all-comers including those who want to visit the on-site chapels and a grotto, and everyday travellers including families. The retreat is located at the beginning (or end) of a 215-kilometre pilgrimage walk known as the Kapatakan trail, a hike that leads to a statue of the Virgin Mary on a cliff high above Saguenay Fiord. Accommodation includes cute little cabins in the woods, traditional hotel rooms and campsites, while the bakery and restaurant offer the region's signature dish of blueberry pie.
AUBERGE DE MONTAGNE DE CHIC-CHOCS
With more moose than people in this remote region of the Gaspesie peninsula in eastern Quebec, guests at this lofty lodge are almost guaranteed a sighting of the largest member of the deer family. There are also caribou and white-tailed deer in the 60 square kilometres of national park that surrounds this mountain retreat, catering to just 36 guests. Located deep in the Chic-Chocs, an extension of the Appalachian Mountains, the lodge can be reached only by special all-terrain vehicle. Once ensconced, guests are assured ultimate tranquillity and sweeping mountain views; there are no TVs or phones, just miles of wilderness to be explored on guided walking trails.
Caroline Gladstone was a guest of the featured properties.