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La Vallée-de-l’Or and Its Mysteries

La Vallée-de-l’Or fires the imagination. The name burns with mystery, synonymous with great explorers, treasures, gold rushes, boom towns, cosmopolitanism, things country and western, and still more.

That era of upheaval is not so long ago. It still marks the architecture of many municipalities in La Vallée-de-l’Or…

False fronts are still found here and there in Sullivan, Malartic and, of course, in Val-d’Or. La Galerie du livre in Val-d’Or, the Hôtel Continental Centre-Ville and the little Russian Orthodox church are a few of my favourites.

The circuit historique “Héritage Val-d’Or” historical walk tells the story of the city’s birth. Through inventiveness and teamwork, in just a few years the pioneers succeeded in building a community from scratch.

The rich heritage of La Cité de l’Or and the Village-Minier-de-Bourlamaque is priceless. Here, we can relive the mining heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. These sites tell the story of the former Lamaque Mine and its importance to the economic, social and cultural development of Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Photo: Mathieu Dupuis
Photo: Mathieu Dupuis

Decked out like one of these early miners, I descended underground into total darkness. There, I heard about the habits and customs of the mine’s workers. I loved the tales of jokes the miners played on each other. Humour ruled, despite the tough conditions. Every story told was fascinating to me, including the alleged sightings of Howard Hughes at the guest house.

Mining still plays a huge role hereabouts. A visit to the Musée minéralogique de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue reveals the mineral wealth of our land. The museum paints a portrait of the exploration and exploitation both within the region and elsewhere in Québec.

The Canadian Malartic mine shows how morals have evolved in the industry. The speed and massive size of the machinery impresses young and old alike.

Little by little

Over the years, a quality lifestyle has been established here. Today, over 10 outfitters welcome visitors who come in search of walleye, northern pike, moose and black bears. There are also a number of fine recreational areas: the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye (SÉPAQ) wildlife reserve, Forêt récréative de Val-d’Or recreational forest, Mont Bell in Senneterre, and more.

Val-d’Or’s artistic side

Les Jardins à fleur de peau are a peaceful haven just a stone’s throw from Val-d’Or. Plants, nature, lac Blouin, water, poetry and art all mingle to create a truly inspiring spot.

Culture comes alive at the Centre d’exposition de Val-d’Or and Boutique souvenirs Expo-Art, as well as through a host of events, both reflections of the region’s people and the eccentric. Events like the tales and legends of the Festival des contes et légendes; celebration of all things Native, the Journée nationale des Autochtones; comedy at the Festival d’humour; fast-rising talent of the Festival de la relève indépendante musicale; wide-ranging instrumental music styles and genres of the Festival classique; a celebration of locally made film, the Festival de cinéma des gens d’ici...

Topping off the cultural offer are a growing number of fine dining options: Chef Yves Moreau at Hôtel Forestel, Bar-Bistro L’Entracte, the Restaurant Windsor, etc.

But it’s at the Microbrasserie Le Prospecteur microbrewery where we all come together to talk about our roots, historical journeys, and joyfully realize just how far we’ve come...