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Friday, 31 December 2010

Charlevoix, Quebec: From Music and Bootleggers to Scenic Landscapes and Charming Towns - Page 2

Written by Habeeb Salloum
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We followed the shore of the St. Lawrence River, stopping a number of times to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, until we stopped for lunch at Le Domaine Forget – a tranquil music school set in a serene country atmosphere, where about 600 summer students pay $500 per week to be professionally trained and then put on concerts in a very modern music hall.


Once a large historical estate, it is located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, in St. Irénée.  From May to September, the school hosts an International Festival and is home to a Music and Dance Academy where these students come to hone their skills in music and dance with the greatest teachers in the world.


Leaving the serene world of music, we drove to Maison du Bootlegger, located at La Malbaie (Sainte-Agnes).  With a clandestine history going back to 1860, it gives one a peek into the underworld of the surreptitious activities that occurred during Prohibition.  During that time, the owner of Maison du Bootlegger decided to thwart the authorities by building walls inside the house and hide the real vocation of the facility: gambling and drinking.  It is now a tourist restaurant featuring fine food, entertainment and guided tours that take you through a maze of fake walls, secret passages and hidden corridors and bars. 


The current owner, Johanne Brassard, in her charming way, welcomed us into the attic where in the days of Prohibition, the owner used to welcome important people in its Club des Monts.  Doctors, gentlemen, judges, lawyers, and many others of the Canadian and American elite came here to drink and gamble in those days.








Quebec Charlevoix 2We sampled the house’s delicious drinks, and then were taken on a tour of the house by Johanne’s daughter.  We went through an amazing labyrinth of secret passageways and noted many famous people’s names, such as Elvis Presley, that were engraved upon the walls. 


Our guide and her mother, like all the staff, were fun people who doubled as workers and dancers, or other entertainers.  Like one of my colleagues said, “You need not be a gambler or a drinker to enjoy yourself here. It looks like even the workers enjoy their jobs.”


That night, resting at the nearby elegant L’Auberge des 3 Canards, I reflected on our day’s journeys through the picturesque tourist region of Charlevoix and ending up at the Bootlegger.  I felt contentment thinking of Brassard and her flourishing business built on the reputation of a historical episode.


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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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