When offered to discover Temiscamingue for a weekend trip, I immediately felt the excitement. After months of lockdown, this getaway was the breath of fresh air I needed– badly. But then, I thought: how am I going to get there? It is a 700-km trip (or an eight-hour drive) from Montreal. Thanks to GMC, I was fortunate enough to enjoy that long ride aboard the new generation Yukon Denali, a (very) large and uber-comfy luxury SUV. With onboard Wi-Fi, I was even able to work and answer emails in the depths of the woods. That is, when I wasn’t  too busy screaming Y2K bops at the top of my lungs, thanks to SiriusXM and its plethora of stations free of ads and fuss. I arrived, relaxed–all things considered, and ready for the adventure days ahead. And, trust me, it was well worth the detour! Now, it’s your turn to take a look at the region’s beautiful wonders.

La Bannik, the magnificent

On the shores of beautiful Lake Temiscamingue, La Bannik is a one-of-a-kind resort offering fully equipped cottages (with breathtaking views overlooking the lake) and campsites. You can enjoy the lake’s rocky shores and surrounding nature on the nearby hiking trails.

Once you’ve had your fill of larger-than-life scenery, you can enjoy a meal at the on-site bistro, which offers classic dishes, or at one of the few restaurants in the area. For an extraordinary dining experience, choose L’Autochtone American Tavern, on the Ontario shores of Lake Temiscamingue. On the menu: rich and refined contemporary foods, inspired by Indigenous culture and traditions, made with local and sustainable ingredients. A must! And if you’re lucky enough, you may also stumble upon L’Éden Rouge, an agritourism gem with a farm-to-table approach. Chef Angèle-Ann Guimond offers a gourmet table with fresh-as-can-be ingredients. Check out their website for event dates (scarce and limited seats available).

Agritourism in full swing

Farmers, wine producers, cheese makers, chocolatiers, microbrewers: there is no shortage of wonderful local producers in Temiscamingue. You can enjoy a variety of fresh produce made by passionate locals. From the cheeses at Fromagerie Au Village–some of which have won international awards, to the sweet Chocolats Martine, not to mention the Domaine DesDucs wines or the Barbe Broue beer—there is something for every palate. The Wild Basket, a company led by Algonquin community members (Temiscamingue is unceded Algonquin territory), absolutely charmed me—it promotes local ingredients harvested in the forest, and helps preserve ancestral knowledge with new tracking technologies. Freshly picked ethical and sustainable chanterelles? Yes, please!

Want to learn more about life on a farm— The Simple Life style? Make an appointment with the Gélinas family, owners of the Bêê Oui sheep farm. They’ll gladly show all the curious minds around, so you can learn more about the land, the animals and life in the country. Chickens, pigs, goats, dogs, ducks, horses and many, many sheep: these animals often end up on our plates, even though we know nothing about the hard and dedicated work that must be done for them to get there. The friendly couple, Simon and Sandra, surrounded by some of their seven children, explain this arduous work spiritedly. More in a foal-cuddling mood? The Manège du Centaure offers riding lessons nearby, for both beginners and more advanced riders. Classic or vaulting? The choice is yours.

A bit of history and a breath of fresh air

Colonization has strongly influenced Temiscamingue. You can dive deeper into this at Obadjiwan-Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site, a former fortified fur trading post from the New France era. This beautiful place on the shores of Lake Timiskaming has been home to Indigenous peoples for over six millennia and has been a place of trade and rivalry for many centuries. Today, you can take a walk down history lane along the interpretation trails before visiting the permanent and temporary exhibits offered by the facilities.

For outdoor activities—canoeing, kayaking or hiking are very popular in the summer, while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing are a winter go-to. Opt for the magnificent Opémican National Park, which is part of the Sépaq circuit, for a setting that couldn’t be more enchanting. You can even camp deep in the wild of the park, by lakes Témiscamingue and Kipawa. Breathtaking landscapes that appeal to real-life adventurers, cultural heritage that delights history buffs; There is something there for everyone.

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