Up for a hike through the woods? Why not turn it into a trip to what will feel like a faraway land? The majestic territory of Seigneurie du Triton may seem otherworldly, but it isn’t that far away!
The dot on the map looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere. Club Triton is the name of a train station on the line linking Montréal to Saguenay. A train station in the middle of the forest? With a club nearby? What’s this all about?
This little-known locale, which seems completely remote, is now called Seigneurie du Triton, a vacation destination offering a host of activities in the woods. Though you can get there by train, most visitors opt to drive and leave their car in the parking lot near the dock at Lac à la Croix, a few kilometres from Lac-Édouard. There isn’t a road to where we’re heading. And we won’t have any cell phone reception either. Peace and quiet are guaranteed! We’re at the head of Rivière Batiscan, some 60 km northeast of La Tuque.
We take a pontoon to our intriguing destination. It’s difficult not to be bowled over on your first visit. The large wooden heritage home gradually comes into view as if it fell from the sky. The building, as well as its outbuildings and cottages built over the years, is now managed by couple Annie Tremblay and Nicolas Bernard. Annie, who is from the area, and Nicolas, who is French, welcome visitors to this exceptional place, which dates back to the late 19th century.
“The Triton is a page out of Québec’s history books,” said Nicolas, who oversees the property’s day-to-day operations. It’s Québec’s oldest hunting and fishing club. It was founded in 1893, and the first building was erected in 1897. “Today, we have a duty to introduce this land to everyone, including couples, families and friends.”
A long history of fishing
The club has seen a host of adventures. As Annie and Nicolas will tell you in the Club House living room after your arrival, a number of celebrities have stayed there, from Churchill to Roosevelt to the Rockefellers. It all began when railway engineer Alexander Luders Light was completing the railway line connecting Hervey-Jonction and Chambord in the late 19th century. When he retired, he bought land from the government that included some 200 lakes. It was a time when private hunting and fishing clubs were flourishing. When he founded the Triton Fish and Game Club, he gave wealthy US politicians and businessmen exclusive access to the land. Traces of this past are everywhere, on the living room walls, in the lobby and along the hallways. These include photos of the historical period and famous guests, as well as artifacts. Annie, who serves as vice-president of the family-run business, enjoys discovering and restoring these treasures.
“It’s a museum at the same time. You find so many things when you walk around. There are official documents on the walls and in the furniture around the premises. We make it a priority to tell people about them since they add so much cachet. It was so much work to erect these buildings! In 1893, there weren’t any motorboats to transport the materials. They were sent by train and by rowboat. The furniture was in detached pieces. They had to do everything manually.”
In the heart of the wilderness
Over time, things have changed, and there has clearly been much work done to the grounds since private clubs were abolished in 1976. Now visitors can pay for an escape to the middle of the woods. Everything is taken care of straight away. The entire team pitches in to steer the pontoons, rowboats and other watercraft, transporting visitors from lake to lake who want to fish or simply enjoy the lush, soothing natural surroundings.
The staff recommends that we go on an adventure in the woods. Early the next morning, the guides are ready to go. Some pass out fishing poles and shuttle guests to another part of the grounds, while others take to the trails to forage for mushrooms and edible plants.
At noon, we all meet up in the middle of the woods for the Shore Lunch, which is served on site. In addition to the dishes provided, the staff grills freshly caught trout for us. They also gladly hold onto the rest of the catch for the chef to prepare at dinner. Whether you’re more drawn to fishing or exploring the woods, the goal is the same: to unplug and feel like you’ve truly gotten away from it all.
“What’s really important to us is introducing guests to a new experience,” said Annie. “We want them to feel like they’ve gone somewhere else, for them to enjoy the natural surroundings and discover the wildlife. Of course, there’s fishing, since that was the original purpose of the club here, but most people come to enjoy the fresh air and go canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. There are also plenty of activities in the woods, which are focused on discovering nature. Grilling a panful of mushrooms that you picked yourself is a memorable experience!”
This journey, once reserved for rich industrialists, is now available to anyone looking to escape to the heart of the Mauricie forest. And for those who may believe that these large swaths of land, long considered inaccessible, are remote and out of reach, Nicolas has a few arguments to debunk that myth.
“Anyone can come to the Triton. It feels extremely protected due to its form and features, and because it can only be reached by water. But it’s actually really accessible. It’s 45 minutes from La Tuque, two and a half hours from Trois-Rivières, three and a half hours from Québec City and four and a half hours from Montréal. It’s fairly straightforward to get to. You follow Rivière Saint-Mauricie along a gorgeous route. The colours are beautiful and you’re surrounded by nature.”
The heart of the wilderness is just a few hours up the road. Based on those words and the wanderlust they invoke, the dot on the map indicating Club Triton doesn’t seem so far away anymore. You may want to hop in the car and head to the woods to explore what feels like an exotic locale to many.
Seigneurie du Triton
1893 Chemin du Triton