Quebec: Val-Jalbert, A Place for Living History and Making Family Vacation Memories.
In Quebec time travel is easy.
Traveling back in time to the turn of the 20th century, we arrived at the Historical Village of Val-Jabert in the early afternoon, following an invigorating bike ride from Roberval with Veloroute.
The mayor himself welcomed us to Val-Jalbert (not the normal situation for every guest), and put us onto the tram which would take us up the hill and back in time to the turn-of-the-century paper mill town of Val-Jalbert.
Here’s the scoop.
Val-Jalbert was founded in 1901 next to the thundering Ouiatchouan Falls, and was a working pulp mill town until 1937, when it went bust and all of the residents departed. Today the site operates as a historical reenactment site with costumed interpreters representing the people who would have called Val-Jalbert home (Not unlike Kingslanding in New Brunwick.). The site has been lovingly restored with many of the mill worker’s homes open for exploration as well as the restored convent school and general store. Get the story at the end of the tram.
We took the tram ride up and through Val-Jalbert and listened to the short audio presentation which introduced us to the history of Val-Jalbert and talked about what life was like in Val-Jalbert when it was a working mill town. The ride is perfect in length for kids – long enough to relay important and interesting information about what you’re seeing but short enough for even the shortest attention span. After the ride we hopped off the tram and explored on our own. The site is truly charming – nestled in the trees near the roaring falls, it’s idyllic and calming but full of interesting places to explore.
Admission to V
al-Jalbert includes a ride up the steep incline next to Ouiatchouan Falls which gives you a great view of Lac-Saint-Jean and the beautiful landscape. At the top there’s an observation platform offering a great view of the falls, and for anyone with extra energy there is a short boardwalk hike up to the waters above the falls.
Water, water everywhere.
At the base there is another platform with a glass-bottomed floor which allows visitors to get close to the thundering water. It’s easy to see why there was a pulp mill built there – the force of the water is impressive, especially when viewed up close.Going back to school.
Kids will love the convent school – which during high season offers two “class sessions” per day where kids can see what school was like when the town was inhabited. For me this was reminiscent of my class time at Kingslanding. It is a terrific idea and a practical way for children to learn on a family vacation while having fun. (I see now that my parents were sneaky with their vacation and learning agenda.)Have a sleepover.
Those looking for the total immersion experience, like we were, will love that it’s possible to stay overnight in Val-Jalbert. Above the general store is the town hotel where a combination of five-star elements and restoration makes for a delightful retreat. It’s also possible to stay in one of several of the reconstructed 1920s mill workers houses with a similar blend of luxurious elements and historical reconstruction. Just camp out.
Those looking for the more adventurous approach can elect to camp out at the adjacent Val-Jalbert campgrounds which are both extensive and beautiful with many sports adjacent to the river or near Lac-Saint-Jean. Bonus points: Staying on site allows guests the opportunity to have dinner inside what was once the pulp mill – a tasty culinary experience which comes the with opportunity to check out the original mill works.
Location on the planet.
Val-Jalbert Historic Village 95, rue Saint-Georges (Chambord) G0W 1G0. Toll-free 1 888 675-3132, 418 275-3132 or www.valjalbert.com
Make it happen.
Check out the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean tourism blog, fan them on Facebook, check out their videos on Youtube or find gorgeous photos of the region on Flickr.Tourism Centre 412, boul. Saguenay Est, bureau 100, Chicoutimi (Québec) G7H 7Y8. Toll-free 1-877-BLEUETS (253-8387) or www.saguenaylacsaintjean.ca Content provided by A.L Nelson-Duac based on a site visit and images provided by Val Jalbert. Copyright 2011.