A cabin in the woods.

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I have always thought staying in a chalet in the snowy woods is terribly romantic and very Canadian. I guess that makes me the demographic Quebec Parks are aiming for. They have just built several new Nature Chalets in Tremblant, Mont Valin, Yamaska and Mont Orford, which sleep just two or four people. The days of mucking in and staying next to strangers in larger hostel-type cabins are becoming a thing of the past (though hardy types do still do this). Personally I love the privacy of your own cabin and also the proximity of a bathroom at all times. Heaven.
Sarah Rogers interviews me for the CBC
We are in Mont Orford Park in the Eastern Townships, just over an hour's drive from Montreal. Our cabin is called Le Felton, named after William Bowman Felton,  an English naval officer granted land here in the 18th century. My first duty is to be interviewed by the CBC radio's Quebec AM programme who want to look around our cabin (husband making tea in background) and talk about my blog. Then reporter Sarah Rogers and I went for a walk to nearby Stukely Lake - and I take photographs as the sun sets. (To hear more about the chalet and my blog listen to my CBC interview here.)
Local brew
I find myself talking about all those essentially Canadian experiences I have had - only to find out my Canadian friends have not, such as staying in the Ice Hotel or skiing in the Canadian National Ski Marathon. I also mention how Brits go a bit misty eyed when they think of Canada - the woods, the moose and the maple syrup. It reminds me of the look on male friends' faces when my husband tells them he's about to chop some wood. They practically race him to the axe.

Our bedroom in the loft

Sarah leaves us alone and we explore the lake a bit more and wonder if we could have skated it - it's very smooth under a light dusting of snow- probably caused by a melt in the unseasonably warm weather a few days ago. We tuck in to good hearty Quebec fare for dinner - tourtiere and microbrewed beer from Sherbrooke. The chalet has a propane powered stove - which looks just like a wood-burning one and later when we go to bed up in the loft we can see the firelight flickering on the ceiling. 

Off for a walk
It's mid week and we are the only occupants in the five new Nature Chalets here. There are no signs of life around and absolutely no noise. A perfect getaway. Next morning we ask at the Welcome Centre and find the weekends are fully booked well ahead of time. On our doorstep in the woods are 50km of cross-country ski trails including skate skiing routes. Snowshoe trails range from 2 to 16km and there are walking trails and special equipment so that those using wheelchairs can get on trails too. 

Snowshoes keep you up.
We use the rental snowshoes left in our cabin and take to the trails - taking care not to step on the ski tracks when we crossed a trail (very annoying). I never realised why you had to wear snowshoes until I once finished a walk in deep snow, took one off and my leg disappeared up to my thigh. That was when I discovered they spread your weight and prevent you from sinking. (Obvious to Canadians, not to obvious to a girl from Newcastle). For exactly the same reasons as I love to be in the woods in the summer this chalet is perfect in the winter. There is something about sitting in your window gazing out into the maple trees, watching the red squirrels running around, that connects you to those Canadians who lived like this generations ago. I told you I was a romantic. 

Read about a stay in the Ice Hotel.

To hear more about the chalet and my blog listen to my CBC interview here.

More info on the Parks Quebec Nature Chalets which start at $165 a night.


  1. Lovely story Anne. I think you found the best way to enjoy Canadian winter in the nature. Very inspiring.

  2. Heard you on CBC. Wonderful story. I'm always interested in the relationships people have with places. Sometimes an outside perspective is required to really see the subtle complexities that make a place loved by the locals.

  3. Thanks - I like your Albertastan rant on country music!

  4. what a fantastic blog..very thoughtfully written and witty.

    I guess it takes a brit trying things we take for granted here to realize how awesome we have it in Canadada...LOL

    Come to BC...or better yet, ask VIA to give you a ticket on the Canadian to come all the way to Vancouver. You have not lived until you take this train and realize how incredibly vast and varied this country really is.

  5. I was only able to catch part of your CBC interview, but it was enough to send me looking for this blog and pictures of the cabbin!

  6. What a great blog! I heard your interview on CBC and envied you immediately for having come up with the idea of the blog in the first place! I came to live in Canada in 1966 and thought I would only stay two or three years...well I'm still here and never once thought of writing about life in Canada except in my letters home to my family and friends in England. I wish now I had kept copies of those letter I have a feeling they would be very revealing as a young woman adapting to her new country.

    Did I read right? Are you originally from Newcastle? I am too! :)

    My husband and I were in Quebec City for the second time (first time was over 30 years ago) last August, we may have rubbed shoulders in the Basilica and other places as we sought out the cool spots.
    Your blog makes me realise why I came to Canada and why I have stayed. Thank you.

  7. Heard your interview on CBC and really enjoyed it!

  8. Neat surprise at 11:40-pm-or-so when I can't sleep and click on the radio beside my bed and hear someone whose blog I've been reading! I know what Brad meant because I have acquaintances on a UK forum who just couldn't get enough of my ramblings about blackflies and maple syrup and hummingbirds and deep winter cold and the wildlife around the pond. We think it's just ho-hum stuff, but it's obviously interesting to people who haven't experienced Canadian life. It was nice to put a voice to the electronic stories last night.

  9. Brad ...that is something that is on my list. I rode across the US once from coast to coast but a train trip across Canada is something I will definitely do one day. (I have been on the Rocky Mountaineer and loved it).

  10. Heard you on CBC and totally understood where you were coming from - I moved here from England 26 years ago - fell in love with Canada and the romance gets stronger every day. I have been fortunate enough to explore the wilds of Northern BC to the Maritimes and most places in between. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else but I never forget where I came from. Loved listening to how you interact with Canada - and that's the best way to live here - you have to participate in all that Canada has to offer and you will never be let down. Will be following your blog now - looking for ideas on new places to visit and experiences to enjoy, or your view on some things I have already had the pleasure of doing.

  11. Thanks for all your lovely comments.
    Jane - I'm envious of your Maritimes explorations. Need to do that.
    Next up is a trip to Churchill in Manitoba to see (I hope) the Northern Lights.

  12. Heard you on CBC and will read more! How lovely to hear that people from England are interested in Canada. I never would have guessed! You've also made me wonder how other countries see Canada, and what things are considered typically Canadian.
    My life started in a cabin in the woods without electricity or running water, etc. and I dream of going back to a wild, off-the-grid lifestyle as soon as possible, probably in the wild spaces of BC somewhere. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Living off the grid is a dream for many but here in Canada it is not impossible. However I do have wifi at our cottage in the woods which probably disqualifies me!

  14. I heard yo on CBC, great blog to learn about the things I take for granted as a canadian. Makes me appreciate them more :)

  15. I heard your interview on CBC. I am from Vancouver Island and you made me dream of a chilly, snowy Canadian winter. It was a warm, rainy 10 degrees today. You should come to the West Coast to see the ocean and the rain forest, and to take a break from the snow!

  16. I am very happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that's at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.


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