Exploring Valley Venues: The Pontiac

Dec 13th, 2018 | By | Category: Adventure, Featured, Travel

By Katharine Fletcher

To me, early December is the season of The Wait when so many of us are awaiting Christmas. Here, in West Quebec’s Pontiac’s countryside, last month’s vistas of gold and charcoal punctuated by conifers dark green are awaiting snow’s white blanket. Soon we’ll venture outside to snowshoe, ski – and perhaps even winter camp.

Although many of us like to hunker down with a good book during  early December’s chilly weather, it’s also a time for hikers and drivers to consider outdoorsy destinations. It’s a great time to explore before winter’s less-welcome ice and sleet make cocooning attractive.

But first: where’s the Pontiac? It’s a sprawling region in West Quebec which starts immediately west of Aylmer (westernmost part of Gatineau), and extends westwards up the Ottawa River, past Fort Coulonge, Waltham, Swisha (Rapides des Joachims) and beyond.

It’s my goal here to introduce the region where I live – and offer some indoor and outdoor destinations. Remember that after snowfall, there are additional trails such as at Ski Pontiac in Bristol (facebook.com/SkiPontiac), dogsledding at Timberland (timberlandtours.ca), and skating opportunities, too, at Wolf Lake (bit.ly/2PKyIfD). But what to do in early December? Read on, and please note that here in the rural Pontiac, some operators do request that you call ahead, just to ensure they’re open, and not booked for a Christmas party/special event.

Luskville Falls Hike, Gatineau Park
Northern end of chemin de
l’hotel de ville, Luskville

Designated “difficult” because the elevation of 290 metres signifies a good heart-healthy ascent up the Eardley Escarpment, simply take your time and you’ll love this hike. Yes, it’s steep: the path climbs the rocky ridge. However, pause whenever you wish and drink in fabulous and increasingly aerial views of the flat Ottawa Valley below. Watch your footing, particularly on the descent as it may be icy, and wear hiking boots because the rocks can turn and bruise or twist ankles so it’s best to be prepared for this 4.5 km hike.

bit.ly/2R7L6H7

Cidrerie Coronation Hall Cider Mills
206 Chemin River, Bristol

The Graham family request you telephone to ensure they’re open, but do just that and taste their apple cider and other apple goodies, all produced from local fruit. In wintertime, ask them about special openings offered in support of Ski Pontiac, where after skiing, you can sip hot mulled cider beside a bonfire, under a canopy of stars.

bit.ly/2PbMMSB; 819 647 2547

Art Brûlant & Impressions:
Roasted Art & Coffee
305 Rue Main, Shawville

Raymond Sander-Regier is not only a dedicated coffee roaster, he’s also an artist. So after that Luskville Falls outing, drive west on Highway 148 and in Shawville, discover his roasterie. Every month, he features a different type of coffee, whether it’s the Ethiopian Sahama, Costa Rican Tarrazu, or other tasty temptations. Come for the fragrant, freshly roasted coffee; linger to view his art.

Check website for hours: bit.ly/1HUTcMg

Wineries in the Pontiac

Yes, it’s surprising, but with climate change, who knows how many wineries will become established in West Quebec? Here are three. Please ensure you telephone first to ensure the proprietors are able to welcome you.

Lavender Ridge Farm
1983 Rte 148, J0X 2G0 Luskville

Not only a winery, but the owner (who is the current mayor) bakes delicious lavender goodies such as bread. You’ll also find local authors’ books and crafts.

lavenderridge.ca/ 819-455-2544.

Domaine de Pontiac Village
1259, chemin du Cimetière, Quyon

Also houses a wonderful Automobile Museum. Call before going: May open for visitors if you call ahead, but also ask about where they’ll be offering their wine for sale during Christmas shows such as in the Marché de Noel du Vieux-Hull (Gatineau) bit.ly/2q5l0J6.

bit.ly/2S2xMou; domainepontiac.com; 819-458-3628

Little Red Wagon Winery
165 Chemin de Calumet Ouest, Clarendon

Owner Jennifer Dale Judd is an artist, so the tasting/dining room doubles as her gallery.

littleredwagonwinery.com; 819-744-0842

Cycle/Stroll historic Shawville

Shawville is Pontiac’s shopping centre, an historic village famous for its red-brick homes and shopfronts. European settlement began with Irish immigrants from County Tipperary after the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. Stroll the streets, absorbing the country village’s atmosphere – and check out the shops where visitors are always welcome.

bit.ly/2AACPG9

Cycle/Stroll Fort Coulonge
Spruceholme Inn
204 rue Principale, Fort Coulonge

Particularly if you’re seeking a weekend getaway, Spruceholme provides a great base for exploration of this historic village and its immediate surroundings, including the longest covered (aka “kissing”) bridge in Quebec. Spruceholme’s owner, Jane Toller, is a direct descendant of Ottawa Valley lumber baron George Bryson, who built this impressive mansion. Talk to her about the fascinating history of the house – and also of the region, including the Chutes Coulonge, whose rocky chasm is a spectacular site to visit. Dine at Spruceholme’s Bryson’s Bistro (check website for hours or call 819-683-5635).

spruceholmeinn.com

Pontiac Restaurants:

• Le Smok’n Bull, 1862 Hwy 148, Luskville: from heart-warming Hamburg soup to Mexican poutine, pulled brisket – check it out! facebook.com/smoknbull/

• Chez In, 391 Hwy 148, Shawville – excellent Thai food: bit.ly/2Akfvft or facebook.com/ChezInRestaurant/

• Café 349, 349 Main St, Shawville – good “homemade” food. I recommend you telephone (819-647-6424) to confirm times of opening; cafe349shawville.ca or facebook.com/cafe349/

Useful websites

• Pontiac Tourism: tourisme-pontiac.com

• Outaouais Tourism: tourismeoutaouais.com (Pontiac is part of the Outaouais [West Quebec].

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