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Matchi-Manitou: An All-Season Dream

The Matchi-Manitou Lodge, located an hour away from Val-d’Or, offers various services for small game hunting and fishing lovers. You can also simply enjoy nature, immersed in the calm of the Boreal forest, on the shores of the Matchi-Manitou Lake. Manon Bédard and her life partner Stéphane Hébert have unsurprisingly fallen in love with the location on their first visit. For 20 years, they cherished the dream of owning their own outfitter. At Matchi-Manitou Lake, they made their wish come true. Here is a report of our beautiful meeting with Manon Bernard. 

The all smiles couple, in front of the Matchi-Manitou Lake. Photo: Courtesy 

A long-standing idea 

When Manon met her life partner, he was already a hunter and a fisherman. Owning a Lodge was not a foreign idea since his uncle already owned his own. On her side, Manon has always loved the outdoors and ecology. 

“I completed a degree in career guidance, I have been in the army for 13 years, I worked with the SÉPAQ where I involved myself with the socio-professional integration of the youth. I also worked in schooling and employability. I have always been very active. My partner introduced me to hunting and fishing. He was in building and excavation, he is the manual one of our couple. I mostly focus on and take care of management,” explains Manon, while describing an ideal team to take care of such a project. 

Manon, proud of her catches. Photo: Courtesy 

In 2016, on their 40th birthday, the couple decided to make this dream come true. The Matchi-Manitou Lodge met their precise criteria. The planets aligned and the St-Jean-sur-Richelieu couple leaped to Abitibi-Témiscamingue. 

Onward to adventure! 

The couple, also parents to three kids, first visited Val-d’Or and its high school. Manon and Stéphane wanted to get to know the area before they would move. The people’s welcome felt very familiar. The parents consulted their children beforehand and in a common agreement, they all embarked on this journey. 

“I think we gave them a gift of opportunity. We really pulled them out of their everyday life, it allowed them to learn several things. It also made strong bonds and got us closer,” tells Manon, proud of their decision. 

Manon affirms that the Lodge is the most beautiful gift her and her partner have given themselves. “Home, it is in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, I would not go backwards,” she says. 

Adaptation and new projects 

From the beginning, everything was new for this family, and that is, even if the outfitter has been existing for 50 years. With time, the couple got to know their clients. Counting seven cottages and fourteen camping sites, the management of the location was covered quickly. 

Moreover, the attendance to the site and its clientele has evolved since. “When we purchased the place, people especially came for hunting and fishing. We put forward camping and the family friendliness of our business, we have done some promotion, we went to outfitter shows. We bought kayaks, pedal boats, and paddleboards. We really aimed to attract the holiday resort customer base,” explains the businesswoman. 

One of the Lodge’s cottages, in its magical surroundings. Photo: Courtesy 
Inside of a Lodge’s cottage. Photo: Courtesy 

Among their clients, there are people who come to the site to reconnect with themselves and with nature, a process facilitated by the absence of Internet access in the accommodations. However, it is possible to access the Web on site. 

“We are very in tune with our customer base. For us, customer service is super important,” Manon stipulates. 

What about hunting and fishing? 

The lake, a water body of 12 km by 6 km, is protected by the Wildlife Ministry. In order to protect the species, a moratorium exists on the gray trout. Concerning the walleye and the northern pike, their levels are healthy. Regarding hunting, most practice partridge hunting, but some also visit to hunt moose. 

The Matchi-Manitou Lodge in bird’s-eyes view. Photo: Courtesy

“Because the Lake is protected, there is no real estate development around the water body. We are almost alone around the lake and it allows for a high quality fishing,” Manon explains. 

Management decisions are always made in order to maintain a form of balance. Manon and Stéphane limit the number of hunters so they can preserve the wildlife condition. Regarding moose hunting, the same hunters appear to share the habit of attending the Matchi-Manitou Lodge every year. 

What is in the future of the Lodge? 

Since the children are now older and autonomous, Manon and her life partner wish to invest their energy into the development of their all-season offer. Manon explains that they are located in a winter sports paradise and that their beach is perfect. We must admit that all requirements are met! 

Concerning their long term goals, the couple wish to bring customers to discover the area even more. The Lodge being located at the exit of the La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve and thus at one of the entrances of the area, Manon wishes to invite her customers to penetrate further on our amazing territory. She wants to have the customers discover our attractions

“I am working on developing partnerships with businesses to spark interest within her customer base to visit Abitibi-Témiscamingue. We have a corner store where we sell local products. For example, we sell the Prospector’s Coffee or the Miellerie de la Grande Ourse’s honey,” Manon specifies. 

Lately, the team has built four yurts accessible in the Summer as well as in the Winter. An exclusive speckled trout lake will be available in the Spring of 2023 and it will also be accessible for ice fishing during the Winter of 2024. 

During the warmer season, cottages and camping sites are available for rent so you can enjoy the beauty of nature and outdoors activities. During the colder season, you can go to the Matchi-Manitou Lodge for hiking, skiing or even snowmobiling. All of the required equipment can be borrowed on site. No need to be a hunter or to know how to fish to enjoy your stay. The only thing you need is the will to reconnect to nature and to the people you bring along with you on this adventure.