The Historic Town of Val-Jalbert

Along the beautiful shores of Lake St. Jean in the Province of Quebec there is a townsite hidden among the trees and hilly terrain. Development began at the beginning of the1900’s with the construction of a pulp/paper industry. The location of the mill is at the base of Ouiatchouan Falls which drops 72 metres down the cliff with a fall higher than Niagara Falls.

Ouiatchouan Falls

As the project unfolded a company town grew on the site. It was a town that would make nearby towns and villages envious because these well built homes had running water and electricity in the early 1920’s. Suddenly, it all came to an end in 1924 with the layoff of most of the workers. People moved away and the properties lay vacant for many years.

Fortunately, there was a dream to preserve the old town, and that dream became a reality. In 2009 money from the Quebec Provincial government led to the formation of a $19.7 million dollar project to refurbish the town to attract tourists to the area.

Thanks to the new 182 site campground the visit to the historic village can be combined with a camping trip in a pleasantly wooded area. The best way to get started is to join the guided trolleybus tour. As the bus makes its rounds you will learn about the workers, and their lives in the town, and see some of the more impressive buildings. The townsite location is slightly hilly and you may appreciate the availability of a ride which is there if you need it.

We preferred to start off walking by ourselves along the trail from the visitor centre to the historic buildings. It was early September and leaves were starting to turn, adding an extra element of beauty to the walk. After reaching a staircase of 115 steps we came out onto a flat area with several rows of identical houses. Worker's HomesThese were surprisingly picturesque and in very good shape. Actors in period costume occupied some of these homes to re-enact life in the early century. The furniture in some of buildings resembled homes of our parents. The cream separator, used to separate the cream from the cow’s milk, certainly didn’t look out of place in the kitchen, and the old wood stove looked as if it would provide comfortable heat on raw days in the fall and winter.

The walk continued past a few homes that will not be repaired, but left as they are to show what would eventually have happened to the entire settlement if it were not for the forward looking people who led the charge to preserve it. A steep descent in the trail led us to an open area near the mill where we could see the magnificent plumes of water cascading over the falls.

Staff workers have excavated part of the mill to reveal the old equipment. There are also facilities for a bit of lunch before exploring the waterfall and river. You have a choice of riding to the top of the cliff in a closed cable car or poke along slowly climbing the 764 steps. We rode up, and walked down them.Lake St. Jean The views out across Lake St. Jean are great and you can also see farmers working their fields at the base of the cliff.

Once you reach the top, or what you think is the top, you are met by a long board walk that takes you to an upper falls, Maligne Falls. Along  the way you pass a small wooded cabin of the type trappers and woodsmen might build for their temporary stay in the woods. Small, it was easy to build, probably easy to heat and tough enough to withstand bear attacks and also of that smaller, devilish creature, the wolverine.

On the way back down, take advantage of viewing areas of the falls, and also out over the lake below.

View from the cliff.

This is a great way to spend a relaxing day, and get lots of fresh air, and exercise at the same time.


Those responsible for the restoration of the town have also created entertainment in the form of theatrical shows, group gatherings and an old fashioned photographer’s studio where you can record your family’s visit to this great Historic Val-Jalbert.

Happy RVing!

For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels.  Visit his website at:

La Cite de L’Or

Our fascination with gold is endless and enduring. Capitalizing on this interest, the city of Val D’Or has established the site at the old Lamaque Gold Mine as an industrial mining

The Mine's Headframes

heritage. Funds, along with Federal Government grants are rapidly turning this abandoned gold mine into an exciting day trip into the past to see how the gold mine operated during its active years.


Here, you will have the opportunity to visit the mine, mine buildings, and the preserved home of the miners, and experience the ambiance of a real gold mine.

A visit to the Administration office shows you real samples of the gold ore, taken from the gold veins. Sometimes after viewing the samples you wonder what was it that looked so

Ore Samples

rich that it led to one of the richest mines in the area. In here are also a few of the old tools used by the miners and the geologists.


The Winch room shows the winch that acted as an elevator to carry miners down the shaft into the mine, and to lift out the tons of ore that the miners had wrenched from the solid rock. The shaft descended 1200 metres and the hoistman was in full command of the operation. He had to follow cage with the men, and know where the tunnels on each level were so he could let men off to go to work.

The Analytical building kept statistics on the ore’s quality. Samples of ore would be pulverized and melted and analysed to find how much gold was present. A technician shows the tour group how the ore was treated and you can see a casting being prepared from an ore sample.

When it’s time to enter the mine you are taken to a clothing room and suited up.

Suit-up Room

You see how your suit is lowered from a hook, you get your hard-hat, and a lantern and battery and taken to a mine vehicle to climb aboard. This odd looking vehicle has the driver sitting sideways to his direction of travel, which looks very strange, and must be difficult to do. There isn’t much time to think about it because you soon enter the mine portal and begin to descend 91 metres to an old working level of the mine. In this old working level you see the drills that drilled  the rock, and the strange power shovel that loaded the broken ore onto the ore carts. Here, too, you wander along the darkened mine wall and perhaps ponder on the profession of a miner.

Mine Portal

Once back on the surface you can tour Bourlamque’s Mining Village using an portable tape player that tells stories about the various buildings. These are still occupied home and are painted nicely and look very well cared for.

After your tour of the mine’s facilities you will understand what goes on beneath some of the strange mining buildings you see as you travel the north country. There are a small number of electrically service RV sites so it’s a convenient place to visit, and see the town.


Happy RVing!

For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels.  Visit his website at:

Saskatachewan’s T.Rex Discovery Center

The picturesque Frenchman River twists like a scalded snake through a deep valley across southern Saskatchewan. In places, high, dry bluffs edge the valley, and green vegetation stands stark against the grey cliffs. We discovered this place while on a picture and fact collecting tour for my scenic travel guide Canada: Beyond the Far Horizons.

Eastend, Saskatchewan

Nestled along the shore, hemmed in on one side by the bluffs, is the quiet community of Eastend. This site had been the approximate location of an 1870’s Hudson Bay Trading Post. After the Sioux had dealt out appropriate justice to George Custer’s troops at the Battle of the Little Big Horn River by wiping them off the map for their intrusions upon Indian traditional land, they decided to strategically slip away into Canada.
Once in Canada they were not allowed to do whatever they wanted. The North West Mounted Police (NWMP) had already built Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills to try and stop whisky traders from south of the border and to keep the peace. The Mounted Police sent a small detachment of the force east to monitor and control the visiting Sioux Indians. Later they moved their post to the area of the old Trading Post which was the east end of the NWMP’s area and the name became “Eastend”.
The Frenchman River carved deeply into the rolling plains. But hidden deep in the soil and rock below the surface are the fossilized bones of the dinosaurs. Over the years people had picked up large numbers of bones and fossils and the citizens of Eastend determined there was a growing need for a home to bring these fossil finds together where they could be identified and viewed.

Inside the T.Rex Discovery Centre

The project received a tremendous boost with the finding of the bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This dinosaur is the star of the show and its name is Scotty. The economic fortunes of Eastend also received a boost with an increase in tourism. Lots of people wanted to see the 65 million year old Scotty, but the rest of the exhibits are well worth making a trip to the T.Rex Discovery Centre. Scotty is one of only about two dozen mostly intact tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons in the world.
It’s fitting that the building is built into the hill, with the glassed in front overlooking the Frenchman River valley and Eastend. Fossils are usually well buried in the ground, with a few being exposed by the river.
An enjoyable display is a full sized diorama that shows the animals and their environment of 65 million years ago. It’s fascinating to view the landscape as it was back then and compare it to the countryside you drive through to get to the centre. Children find this display exciting, as they stand almost nose to nose with these massive fossil creatures, except the dinosaur’s nose is a lot bigger, and a lot farther off the ground.
The T.Rex Centre is a hive of activity and there are areas for activities where it is ‘hands on’, and others for demonstrations, such as how fossils are removed from the ground, protected, and finally separated from the rock and set up on display.
For those who crave exercise, they can join a programme for fossil digging at a nearby fossil site where they are exposed to the difficulties of working outside in the heat, and the painstaking care that needs to be taken when revealing fossils.
An added bonus for those visiting Eastend is the opportunity to drive in a very sparsely populated part of southern Saskatchewan. It’s a great contrast if all you’ve seen are the views from the Trans-Canada highway. There is less traffic and there is time to see the small ranches and enjoy the atmosphere of the uncrowded plains.

Scary Head

If you have time, drive to the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park that crosses the borders of Alberta, and Saskatchewan. There you will find relaxing campsites, and a chance to visit Fort Walsh. All in all, this is a nice place to visit.


Happy RVing!

For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels.  Visit his website at: