Val-Morin is perhaps the quintessential Laurentian village. Nestled in a pristine valley, dissected by the meandering North River hugged by the old train bed of the P’tit Train du Nord, and surrounded by soft rolling hills. Because it is bypassed by the Laurentian Highway (117) it is a snoozy place – truly a backwater, but in a good way!
However it has a couple of tricks up its’ sleeve: a solid Catholic church very much at the heart of the village; an ashram with yoga courses for seekers of truth – occasionally when there are festivals there is a surge of thousands of Indo-Canadians who arrive from the big cities and park all over the rural roads and you can even spot a pandit or two wandering around in loinclothes; a sizeable Jewish summering population from Outremont (the local Théâtre d’été is an old synagogue – you can see the Star of David on an upstairs window); the beautiful Lac Raymond; Far Hills Inn – formerly a bastion of earnest Bostonite cross-country skiers – unfortunately, after the departure of the intriguingly-named former owner David Leigh-Pemberton (strikingly similar name to the former governor of the Bank of England whose name you can see on limey fivers), it appears to have succumbed to the ‘big-old-building-we-can’t-afford-to-renovate-and-too-much-tax!‘ syndrome and has closed down (see small ski hills ad nauseum).
And there were at least three local ski-hills. Sun Valley – so named because of its’ southerly exposure with oodles of snowfall. Closed in the ‘big-old-building-we-can’t-afford-to-renovate-and-too-much-tax!‘ syndrome and is very much missed. The other hill is/was Mont-Sauvage – a brooding hill overlooking the valley and Lac Raymond. And finally, Mont- Belair, which was a diminutive hill that clung to the sides of Mont-Sauvage.
During the early 1930s cars were not equipped with gas pumps. Near Ste. Adele, our country place north of Montreal, vehicles were unable to drive up the side of this huge hill ‘Chemin du Mont-Sauvage’. A notice was posted at the bottom saying that vehicles should go up the hill backwards so that the gasoline would still flow to the engine.
Tom C. Potter