The Municipality of Montebello in Quebec is home to approximately 1,000 residents living on the 8.36 square-kilometre stretch of land on the Ontario/Quebec border, just an hour’s drive from Ottawa. Many Ottawans make their way through the area en route to Mont Tremblant, but the town warrants far more than a drive-through.
Take a daytrip from Ottawa to sample artisanal delicacies like chocolates in the old train station at Chocomotive, and sip beer across the road at Brassard de Montebello. It’s a new microbrewery along Rue Notre Dame, the main street where a variety of shops and restaurants offer quality goods to appeal to year-round tourists.
Start the day at Parc Omega, 3km past Montebello. The Canadian wildlife safari provides much more than photo opportunities; it’s an interactive lesson in Canadian heritage. Of course, the animals are a huge attraction with bears, wolves, elk, deer, moose and more, roaming the site in their natural habitat. Elk pop their heads into car windows and become particularly friendly when carrots are dangled in front of them. Drop into Park House at the beginning of your adventure to purchase carrots for your drive along the 12-km route.
One of the more impressive areas within the Park is Trout Lake, which is surrounded by 14 totem poles each reflecting the spirit of the eleven First Nations and their legends. Look for the work of artist Denis Charette, a veteran totem pole sculptor. Denis’ recent work will be his most noteworthy to date with the most significant totem ever erected in Quebec. The pole pays homage to the legendary mammoth and will be installed on site in late June.
Park director Serge Lussier begins each day reflecting on the beauty of Canada that is represented within Parc Omega. “I look at the lake each morning and think about how lucky I am to be here,” he says. It’s a sentiment shared by Canadians across the country, and Parc Omega offers the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of our rugged land in a way that connects us to our roots.
Leo Lavallee and Chantal Ouellette purchased a rundown restaurant on Rue Notre Dame in 2015 pretty much sight unseen. They had each been working as chefs in Edmonton and were disillusioned with the food scene in a city that seemed to prefer pre-made over fresh, on-site fare. Their Montebello restaurant Le Café Entre Amis is rated number two among Quebec restaurants on Trip Advisor. The cheerful spot is welcoming with café-style décor offering comfortable seating and fresh homemade food. “Everything is made here, from the stocks, soups, sauces and entrées – there is nothing pre-made,” Leo boasts.
Fill the House
Bonheur De Passions is more than just a novelty gift shop. The house turned shop, at 588 Notre Dame, showcases creative table settings with linens, dishes and glassware to suit a variety of styles and tastes. With three floors of goods, it would be easy to spend hours visiting each room to find just the right gift or piece of furnishing for the cottage or home. The basement level carries Christmas goods and provides room for a furniture repair shop too.
The Fromagerie Montebello is a destination all of its own. The small storefront carries local gourmet food products from maple syrup to jams, sauces, meats and pâté, while the back of the store is the cheese factory. Four varieties are produced on site: Rebellion, an artisanal blue cheese; Tête à Papineau, an earthy cow’s milk cheese; Manchebello, a sheep’s milk cheese; and Adoray, a soft cow’s milk cheese.
The world’s largest log cabin is nestled in the heart of Montebello, surrounded by natural beauty. The Fairmont Chateau Montebello is a year-round resort, but summer offers great charms with water sports, tennis, golf and more. This year promises to offer a truly Canadian experience in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. The bountiful Sunday brunch is considered a tradition and carries regional food, decadent sweets and abundant flavours that will make the pleasant drive worthwhile.