The mister and I finally made it to Mt-Mégantic. For years we talked about going but always allowed for other plans to get in the way. We heard about the observatory at the summit of the mountain, where star gazers spend hours looking up at the night sky. On a clear night you have never seen anything like it. A sky full of stars! It took summer of 2020 to get us there. Both my mister and I love the sky – he likes astronomy and I myself love all of it; stars, sunrises, clouds, rainbows, sunsets, full moons – I mean all of it.
Before booking a room we kept a close watch on the weather forecast because the whole point of our visit was to gaze up at the night sky. Two days prior we booked ourselves in at “La Giroux-ette” a newly opened B&B (June 2019). A beautiful log cabin structure run by a lovely couple. Usually owners of these types of places are passionate about what they do and Lynn was no exception. She was curious about where we were from and talked to us extensively about what the area had to offer. When we told her we wanted to simply look at the stars she said we could see the milky way right there in her backyard.
Lynn cooks for her guests but unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat dinner with her because we had booked too late. I can tell you that she provides a delicious freshly prepared breakfast though, along with great coffee. When I told her I would be writing a blog about our stay she was more than happy to get in front of the camera. She said a couple from Paris had done the same. Imagine a couple all the way from Paris visiting Mt Mégantic. From Montreal it's just under a 3-hour drive. If you decide to visit the area I would recommend this place. Tell Lynn we say “hi” and then let me know what you think of the shower.
Mt-Mégantic is located in one of Quebec’s national parks (Sépaq). It offers an incredible amount of hiking trails with gorgeous views from its summit. On the day we arrived we only had a few hours before dark so we didn’t have the time for the 2-4 hours required to climb and then the time to get back down. Excited to see the observatory (ASTRO-lab) and the views we decided to drive up. To our surprise the observatory was closed but WOW the incredible views looking towards the Appalachian Mountains of Maine, did not disappoint. We also drove to the summit of Mont St-Joseph for a different view. At the summit there is a quaint little church, a statue of St-Joseph and several inukshuks left by visitors. Inukshuks were originally used to navigate in the frozen north where, in the snow, everything could look the same. They were also used to mark sacred places. Travellers today like to leave their mark and it is believed that building an Inukshuk mirrors the Canadian spirit of friendship and community. Trust and believe me when I say there is something special when at the summit. My hope is that one day you see it for yourself.
That evening, because we were so close, we went to visit the town of Lac Mégantic. This is the town where on July 6th, 2013 an unattended freight car carryng fuel derailed and caused an explosion. Killing 47 people and destroying numerous buildings. Images of that night look like hell on earth. It was important for us to visit the memorial paying homage to the lives lost that night. It’s sad to think Lac Mégantic is now best known for this disaster. I imagined a small town but it is actually significant – why I say? Because it has a Wal-Mart and many other chain stores and restaurants. Walking on the waterfront is very picturesque – if you have a vivid imagination you can be a Lake Como in Italy. When we were the night had fallen but there were still shades of pink in the sky.
After dinner we raced back to the B&B because the moment had arrived. The night wasn’t going to get any darker or the stars any brighter. We hurried to put on as many layers of clothing as we could because the temperature was a brisk but we also had forethought to bring blankets from home. Merely a few meters from the B&B we sat in Adirondack chairs with heads lifted to the sky in awe. Better than what we had hoped. Just like Lynn said – we would be able to see the Milky Way. It seemed as though every inch of the dark sky was dotted with a star. For all those who love to look at the stars this is the place. We sat there taking it all in. Within the 45 minutes of sitting there we were lucky enough to see 3 shooting stars. Pure MAGIC!!!
The fresh air made for one amazing night of sleep. We woke up rested and ready to face the day. We would hike starting from the sector Franceville of the national park along gorgeous trails: sentier du ruisseau-de-la-montagne to sentier des Escarpements. The first part was for beginners and the latter for intermediate hikers. Let’s just say there were a few parts that got me a wee bit nervous but with a few deep breaths and trust in myself I made it. It was a glorious 2-hour hike. Now that I think of it when it comes to me moving my body its not simple; I run at an average speed, I walk super slow and I hike with a determined gait.
One more thing. For lunch, Kunal and I made a stop in Lennoxville. Lennoxville is what we refer to as a college town, situated not far from Sherbooke. It is home to Champlain (cegep), Bishop’s University and BCS a boarding school. Back in 1990 and 1991 I attended Champlain. I wanted to take a trip down memory lane. I hadn’t been back in over 20 years. I was kind of hoping the school shop would be open so I could pick us a hoodie for Manisha. I guess due to COVID campus these days don’t look the same. Through my filter the school(s) looked the same but the town has changed. We had lunch at the best place in town, bought a few books from the used book store and made our way home.
There is more to be discovered in the region. As per Lynn, you can snow shoe by tiki light up Mt-Mégantic in the winter. She says that the trees in the winter are permanently white. I have seen it in photographs and it seems spectacular. This destination is a hiker’s delight and we made a promise to go back. Next time we hope to sleep right in the park itself. They have gorgeous rustic cabins at the summit. There are so many more things to do. The last thing I want to mention is that the roads there are insanely hilly. It is very easy to experience motion sickness so drivers be mindful of your passengers. There is a constant up and down. When talking about cycling there, I said it would be certain death for me. For all expert cyclists out there this place is for you!
Mt Mégantic you did not disappoint these Quebec explorers.