Campsites tend to vary in quality. From night to night, camping trip to camping trip, every site has it’s own unique qualities – positive and otherwise. This was of course the same with our trip. Outside Edmonton we slept in not much more than a mud pit covered in stoneflies. In La Verendrye Provincial Park, we slept in blueberry bushes surrounded tightly by granite crags. On the Pigeon River, we were only able to find thick undergrowth to sleep in, arriving well after dark.
On the other side of the comfort factor, there was a campsite in the town of Montebello, Quebec on the Ottawa River that stands out.
We saw it through the setting sun on Day 118: a giant wooden structure rising above the trees of the Laurentian valley and the large yachts mooring in the harbour. Upon docking, we realised that it was an entire complex of giant wooden structures, architecturally unified by their Lincoln log style and green roofs. The main building boasted a grand entrance, immediately thrusting you into a large open concept lobby with a towering stone hexagonal fireplace in the centre. Chandeliers and table lamps filled the room with soft light. Wooden corridors of guest rooms radiated from the centre, named for famous French Canadians.
The clerk at the desk had heard of our impending arrival and had made all the proper arrangements. Six rooms for the six paddlers! Too much, we protested! Don’t be silly, they replied! Well if you insist, we accepted!
We hauled our dry bags and gear to our respective rooms, under the curious eyes of the desk clerk. Promising to not get trapped in our private tents with full baths, we were to meet back in the looby for dinner in ten minutes.
One by one the Paddle Across Canada Tour arrived in comfy sweats back in the lobby. We moved slowly, slack jawed, digesting the architecture, oversize classic paintings, and air of sophistication. The lobby was filled with excellent sitting spots, and a debate as to which chair or couch was the comfiest took place. We ate and toasted our luck, and the pending completion of our journey. After a gourmet meal that did not include such items as quinoa, oats, lentils or peanut butter, not much was said. 118 days in close quarters with each other, we gladly retired to our private rooms at the Chateau Montebello.
As karma for our good fortune, the next two nights downstream were spent in the rain.
Thank you to the Farimont Hotel at Chateau Montebello and to Roots Canada for the stay in what must be one of Canada’s most beautiful hotels, and a very comfortable campsite.