Is Everyone Welcome at a Pow Wow?

Is Everyone Welcome at a Pow Wow?

Have you ever wondered what a pow wow really is?  I have. Perhaps you’ve watched the documentary in the Abitibi 360 virtual series about this and have an idea about the experience. The video actually whet my appetite and I wanted to know more. I wondered about joining in on their next pow wow, but had a question: Would I be welcome?

This is the very question I intend to answer in this blog. To make sure that my information was reliable and accurate, I did some research. I connected with one of the organizers of the Lac Simon Pow Wow, Pamela Papatie, to get some guidance.

What is a Pow Wow?

A pow wow is a traditional spiritual celebration with music, dancing, food and Indigenous crafts. Contrary to popular belief, a pow wow is not a party. No drugs or alcohol are allowed on site during the celebrations. A pow wow is a traditional gathering for the purpose of cultural exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.  It’s actually a tradition that comes from western Canada, adopted by Indigenous communities here in order to reconnect with their culture. For many years, it was forbidden for First Nations to practise and teach their ways to future generations.

There are two types of pow wow. There’s a competition pow wow, where dancers and singers compete for prize money and there’s a traditional pow wow, which has a more spiritual orientation. Both types of pow wow honour traditions and rituals.

The Lac Simon Pow Wow, featured here in the fourth episode of Abitibi 360’s virtual journeys is a traditional gathering.  Organizer Pamela Papatie tells us that it usually takes place on the third weekend of July. It starts at noon, when the sun is at its highest point, and ends at sundown. However, sometimes it runs a bit later into the night so that people can dance and celebrate. On Saturday night, there are also little friendly competitions for singing and drumming. A traditional feast with wild game is also shared as part of the celebration. There is absolutely no charge for admission to the pow wow.

Un Pow-Wow c'est quoi de la série des Voyages virtuels Abitibi 360

Photo | Christian Leduc

Are Non-Aboriginals Welcome at a Pow Wow?

It can feel a little overwhelming for someone attending their first pow wow. However, although it’s a traditional Aboriginal celebration, all are welcome. Pow wows are open to the public.  They serve not only to reclaim and preserve Indigenous culture; they also help to foster the pride Aboriginal people have in being part of our First Nations. It’s a beautiful way for them to share this pride and to introduce the richness of their traditions to the world.

How to Fit In and Show Respect?

Although everyone is welcome, there are a number of basic protocols you need to know and respect. Online, you’ll find a variety of pieces written for those who are new to pow wows , a world that the general public knows little about. Have a look around the Internet for this kind of information, bearing in mind that protocols vary from region to region. Meanwhile, here are a few tips from Pamela Papatie.

First off, pay special attention to the emcee. At every pow wow, there is someone who announces what’s going to be happening next, letting participants know what to do and what not to do. Pay attention.

There are specific times when photos are forbidden. Particularly, during certain songs and dances that are sacred prayers for the Indigenous community holding the pow wow. The emcee will let people know this. Be respectful.

The traditional clothing worn by the dancers is called ‘regalia’. It is not referred to as ‘costumes’. Each regalia is unique. It can signal that the wearer is part of a particular clan or has a connection with a spirit animal. For Pamela Papatie, her daughters’ regalia can reflect both personal choice, and how they are feeling; it can be a vehicle for expressing something they wish to convey or an interpretation of their dreams. This traditional clothing is magnificent, and colourful. It must never be touched without permission. Be observant.

Finally, always bear in mind that the pow wow site is a sacred place. It is forbidden to move around inside the dance arena. Sometimes, people are allowed to join in during the big intertribal dances. Here again, it’s the emcee who will let you know when that is going to happen. Stay curious.

Photo | Christian Leduc

Seeking to Reclaim their Culture

For Indigenous communities, the pow wow is a way of reclaiming their culture and their traditions. Pow wows are a vehicle for sharing, among other things, values, pride, respect and wellness, with youth and elders.

This kind of celebration plays an important role in the life of many Aboriginal people. For example, most of the community is involved in preparing for the Lac Simon Pow Wow. The gathering is a way for them to see their family and friends and to celebrate their cultural heritage together. The pow wow means something different for each individual. For Pamela Papatie, it is highly significant: she wants to follow in her grandmother Janette’s footsteps by raising her daughters with a spiritual orientation. For her, the pow wows aren’t just songs and dances, they are prayers for her children, for Nature, the Earth, the animals, men and women. It’s important for her because it helps her to reconnect with her identity, her Indigenous cultural identity that was lost during the residential school era.

Pow wows are also a way of demonstrating the pride Aboriginal peoples still feel as members of our First Nations. Inviting non-Aboriginals to their pow wow is also a step towards reconciliation.

Jerry Hunter un danseur traditionnel autochtone du Lac Simon lors du Pow-Wow des Voyages virtuels Abitibi 360

Photo | Christian Leduc

To see what is looking like a Pow-Wow, you can check out the fourth episode of Abitibi 360’s documentaries here. It takes the viewer on a virtual journey with Jerry Hunter, a traditional dancer, as the community prepares for the Lac Simon Pow Wow. You’ll discover a beautiful colourful world and feel the community’s desire to instill an understanding of Aboriginal culture.

If you’d like to know more about Indigenous culture, there’s a cultural and touristic site you might want to check out in Val-d’Or. It’s called ‘Kinawit’  Through guided tours and cultural workshops, Kinawit creates a full cultural experience. You can learn more about the history of the First Peoples and their presence on this land for thousands of years. Walking in the woods, collecting medicinal plants and making crafts are all options with a Kinawit experience.

In light of the current pandemic, schedules and activities may change, so be sure to check with Kinawit directly.


My special thanks go to Pamela Papatie, who took the time to answer all my questions.

For her part, Pamela would like to extend her deep gratitude to the merchants who support the pow wow financially. Their financial contributions enable Lac Simon to hold this celebration every year.

Thanks also to Janet Mark and Caroline Lemire who helped to point me in the right direction.


Sources :

Guide 101 des Pow-Wow 

La route des Pow-Wow 2019

L’encyclopédie Canadienne : Pow-Wow

Pamela Papatie, sur le comité organisateur du Pow-Wow du Lac Simon.

Les voyages virtuels Abitibi 360 sont

Produit avec la participation du :

Fonds Bell

Fonds d’aide au rayonnement des régions

Présenté par :


Une production de :

Nadagam films

En collaboration avec :

Tourisme Val-d’Or

La Fabrique culturelle



Image de couverture | Christian Leduc

La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve: Seven Strengths

La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve: Seven Strengths

How people feel about La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve can vary widely. It’s a very individual thing. For some, it’s an endless road to nowhere. For others, it’s a breathtaking area, rich in fish and game, where the opportunities abound for enjoying time in Nature with family and friends. Personally, I definitely belong to the second group. In fact, even when I’m just driving through it to get to points further south in the province, or heading home, I appreciate every single moment of my journey through the Reserve. My intention here is to encourage you to see the Reserve the way I do, to appreciate how beautiful La Vérendrye truly is. Here are seven strong points that I hope will be convincing enough…

1.Off the grid

Already, I can tell what you’re thinking (I’m a bit telepathic, just saying …), “Wow! Really?!? That’s not actually a plus!” Quite the contrary, my friend. Being out on the land without phone service or Wi-Fi, is a perfect opportunity to unplug, reconnect with Nature, your beloveds and the folks you are with.

2.The Rivière des Outaouais Bridge

The Rivière des Outaouais Bridge is really my favourite spot in La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s one of my favourite places in the world! As you wind your way across the bridge, there’s a sense of  hovering on the water. The River is incredibly wide at this point and you’re surrounded by water and peninsulas the whole time.


The Rivière des Outaouais Bridge

3. Lake Names

There are more than 4,000 lakes and waterways in La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, many of which have names that evoke the Indigenous communities in the area.  Have fun trying to pronounce and read these beautiful names! It’s entertaining, that’s for sure!

4. Rest Stops

Rest stops are plentiful in La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve. Many of them have picnic tables, and toilets and some even have lovely beaches, so you can soak your feet. Stopping here is a great idea on a road trip with children, who get antsy sitting in a car too long.


Photo | Marie-Claude Robert

5. Landscape

The beauty of La Vérendrye is positively breathtaking: waterways dot the landscape, flora is rich and diverse, and the imposing rocky outcrops give us a sense of perspective. If you take the time to appreciate the natural world around you, the journey no longer feels like an endless road to the middle of nowhere.

Johanne Vienneau, Executive Director of the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, Abitibi-Témiscamingue Sector, describes the sunrises and sunsets there as ‘utterly sublime’.

For me, it’s the majesty of the white pine and the deep green of the spruce that really strike me. Definitely worth the time to take in.

Photo | Dominic Boudreault

L’un des magnifiques couchers de soleil dans la réserve faunique La Vérendrye.

Photo | Dominic Boudreault

6. The Shop at the North End

There’s a kiosk at the northern entrance to La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve. The shop there sells some very handy things for anyone staying in the area: bait, firewood, bug repellent, etc. You’ll also find some great items with the La Vérendrye and SÉPAQ emblem on them: clothing for adults and children, accessories like ballcaps and hats, cards, beer glasses and more. Frankly, I cannot go in there without buying something!


7. Les Chutes Rolland (Rolland Falls)

The rest stop at Rolland Falls has been renovated so even if you stopped there as a youngster, it’s worth checking it out again. There’s a 2-km interpretive trail leading to the falls, with helpful information about flora and fauna in the area, the Algonquin First Nation and log driving. Better yet: it’s free!

In addition to these seven strong points, La Vérendrye offers a variety of ways of enjoying the area, such as fishing and hunting trips, campgrounds and chalet rentals. So many ways to explore the Reserve other than simply driving through it. To accompany and enhance your experience in this fabulous area, might we suggest that you crank up your favourite tunes? As an incentive, we are offering a bonus gift: here’s a playlist to add to your collection, featuring 10 local artists from Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Top Five Winter Photography Locations in Val-d’Or

Top Five Winter Photography Locations in Val-d’Or

Ah, the joys of winter! Thankfully, the snow, sun, walks in the woods and our magnificent landscapes all help us to forget the cold. Winter is the perfect time to take in the scenery and capture the beauty that surrounds us.

Here are five wonderful places in Val-d’Or for taking photos of people in your life or capturing the landscape in images.

Le parc des Marais (Des Marais Park)

Des Marais Park, on Dennison Boulevard, offers some great scenery for photos. This beautiful space (green in summer and white in winter), its impressive stone sculpture, the gorgeous trees and two footbridges is a testimonial to the classic beauty of the Abitibi region in winter. The Park also makes a gorgeous backdrop for portrait pictures.

Le parc Belvédère (Belvédère Park)

tour rotary belvédère en hiver à Val-d'Or

Photo | Élodie Doua

Whatever the season, Belvédère Park on Sabourin Boulevard is a must. The Rotary Tower is a Val-d’Or highlight: it’s on top of a hill (great for tobogganing), surrounded by a forest. The lookout structure is 18 metres high and commands a view of the whole city. Some mine headframes can be seen on the horizon and there are beautiful lakes that freeze up in winter. The views will certainly not disappoint, and your photos are guaranteed to be fabulous.

Val-d’Or Recreational Forest

foret récréative de Val-d'Or sentier de patin dans le bois

Photo | Élodie Doua

The recreational forest is a place for movement, enjoyment, and family time and it also happens to be gorgeous! The iceway is a perfect place to take photos, while indulging in one of our favourite winter activities. The iceway is a frozen path that runs right through the middle of the forest for 2 kilometres. It’s even lit at night. There’s always a campfire going at the start of the iceway where skaters can warm up. Needless to say, opportunities abound for getting some shots of yourself on skates. The recreational forest is right near the airport.

Blouin Lake

Blouin Lake is one of the best-known lakes in Val-d’Or. A municipal dock makes access easy. The beauty of this place in winter is striking in its simplicity – a great expanse of white surrounded by forest. Val-d’Orians love ice fishing and this is one of the many spots available for it in winter.

Village minier de Bourlamaque (Bourlamaque Mining Village)

Standing as testimony to one of the most important chapters in the city’s history, the Village minier de Bourlamaque offers up awesome images. And when the Village is covered by a white blanket and it’s snowing out, the landscape is so magical that  it feels like being inside a snowglobe! This was the first village in the area surrounding Val-d’Or and the log houses still look the way they did at the time. The feel is very rustic in winter and a beautiful representation of Abitibi’s culture and heritage. A bright yellow mine headframe dominates the skyline at the old Lamaque Mine, now the Cité de l’Or.

Whatever the scene, be it man-made or natural, the winter here in Val-d’Or and Abitibi-Témiscamingue is definitely highly photogenic. Why here, particularly? Well, with the wide-open spaces, purity of the driven snow and stunning candyfloss sunsets and sunrises, a lot of the winning conditions are naturally present for gorgeous photography. All you have to do is choose a location and capture the beauty.

village minier de bourlamaque en hiver- cité de l'or

Photo | Caroline Gélinas

Five Good Reasons to Hire a Hunting Outfitter

Five Good Reasons to Hire a Hunting Outfitter

Perhaps your plans include some hunting this fall? Well, the season is fast approaching! Luckily, there are plenty of outfitters in the RCM of Vallée-de-l’Or and their services can make a big difference in your hunting experience. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a novice, here are five good reasons to hire an outfitter.

A Guide Makes Life Easier

As far as I can tell, of all the benefits an outfitter provides, a hunting guide is top of the list. A guide really makes life a lot easier.


Outfitting guides know the terrain like the back of my hand. They are readily able to get you to the hunting grounds, either by vehicle or boat. Guides are skilled at adapting their service style and approach to each and every hunter, veteran and newbie alike. A staff member at Fournisseurs du Nord, an outfitter specialized in bear-hunting, talked to me about hunters’ various different intentions and goals as they head out. Some want to head home with a hunting trophy, others with the first bear they see. Guides can help them to reach their objective, whatever that may be.

High Success Rate

Another great part about an outfitter is that everything is geared to maximize your chances of success. No one wants to come home empty-handed! Luckily, outfitters are based in areas that are ideal for hunting.


The hunting areas are usually baited. Fournisseurs du Nord does this with bears and so their success rate is 100%. What more could you ask for in a hunting trip?

Accommodation and Meals Included

It is customary for outfitters’ hunting packages to include room and board. Two things to take off your to-do list! Clean, comfortable chalets are easy to find through outfitters in the area. There is something for everyone, from rustic cabins to fully-equipped chalets. If you’re more of a camping type, a number of outfitters also offer campgrounds. And with meals included it’s stress-free! Makes for a much more pleasant hunting trip.


a Cabin at the Matchi-Manitou outfitter

Meeting Kindred Spirits

During hunting season, many of the outfitters are full. It’s an ideal opportunity to meet other hunters who are also enjoying the benefits of dealing with an outfitter. You may even learn some tricks of the trade or be drawn to share a few of your own hunting tips.


It is also a great way to celebrate your success with others. Many outfitters, like Fournisseurs du Nord, celebrate hunters who got their animal. Your hunting trip could very well end on a high note, in a festive atmosphere.


With an outfitter, you’re always sure that someone is tracking the comings and goings of each and every hunter. At the Matchi-Manitou outfitter, there’s a staff member assigned to making sure that everyone has come back safely from their day hunting.


Outfitters’ hunting areas are protected. No squabbles, no other hunters on your turf (aside from other clients with the same outfitter). You can hunt with complete peace of mind.


Lake Matchi-Manitou

Fournisseur du nord_pourvoirie_territoire_g

Top view of the Fournisseurs du Nord outfitter

Cover picture | Zachery Perry – Unsplash

Hunting outfitter in Val-d'Or
10 Artists to Add to Your Playlist

10 Artists to Add to Your Playlist

Quebec is full of exceptional singers and musicians. Here in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, we’re blessed with some of the most talented among them. Whatever your preferred musical style, you’ll definitely find something you like in the great repertoire of music in this area.  We wanted to introduce—or reintroduce—a few of the region’s artists. The list could have been a lot longer, but, for starters, here are 10 musical artists from Abitibi-Témiscamingue to add to your playlist.

Zach Zoya

Zach Zoya comes from Rouyn-Noranda and is now an established rapper in Montréal. At the tender young age of 21, he’d already earned the moniker ‘Quebec’s Drake’. Perhaps you saw him performing in Val d’Or and Rouyn-Noranda last year at the FRIMAT and FME music festivals? Increasingly making a name for himself in the province, this young artist now has quite a few songs to his credit, including a mini-album with rapper High Klassified. His tunes have hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.

Tip: Check out Who Dat


Alexandre Picard, Jean-Sébastien Trudel, Christian Frenette, and Michael Neault formed the musical group Lubik in 2010. The rock band has made frequent appearances these past few years, at the Osisko en Lumières (2016) and FRIMAT (2017) music festivals to name a couple. Lubik’s made a name for themselves in Quebec. They were featured on Belle et Bum (Quebec TV show) and received three awards at the Dédé Fortin festival in 2014. Originally from La Sarre, the four band members flaunt their Abitibi pride, as evidenced in their piece Abitibi Power.

Tip: Have a listen to Laisse-toé aller


Vertige is a four-member reggae-pop-alternative-type band. Originally from Rouyn-Noranda, Marc-Olivier Gratton, Guillaume Laroche, Olivier Migneault and Shawnee Jacques-Godard came together as a group about five years ago. They’re known for their punchy stage performances and love getting audiences up and moving. They performed at FRIMAT in 2017 and their latest album, Renaître, came out in March 2019.

Tip: Check out Jeunes et cons


Founded in 2015, the Saratoga duo is made up of Val d’Or native Chantal Archambault and her partner Michel-Olivier Gasse. Chantal is a songwriter, composer and performer who started a solo career a few years before Saratoga was formed. In 2011, she was nominated for an ADISQ award. Now, her full-time commitment is to Saratoga, a folk music duo that has produced an EP as well as a full-length album.

Tip : Have a listen to On est pas du monde


Big winners at FRIMAT in 2014, Nanochrome is an Indie rock group made up of five members, Alex Poirier-Lemoine, Gabriel Poirier-Lemoine, François Lachapelle, Fred Plante and Michaël Neault. Their album L’exutoire came out in 2015 and, since then, the Val-d’Or natives have performed often at festivals in the area, such as Osisko en Lumières in 2016. They even performed in Montréal for the first time in 2017.

Tip: Check out Entre-temps

Phil Moreau

Phil Moreau is a songwriter, composer and performer from Rouyn Noranda. His career began around 2010, with the recording of his first demo. He subsequently performed in a number of festivals, including FRIMAT, where he won the Télé-Québec award for his lyrics in 2011 and where he also performed in 2018. In 2017, he put out the mini album Gros temps, with five folk-rock songs.

Tip: Have a listen to La mauvaise herbe ne meurt jamais

Laurence Doire

Only 20 years old, Laurence Doire is a country singer from Beaucanton. Based out of Montréal, this young woman produced her first album Soirée du Nord in October 2018, which included six songs in French. Since 2015, she’s been lead singer with the five-piece Laurence Doire country band. She now performs at a lot of parties and events.

Tip: Check out Ek’ mon skidoo


Originally from Ville-Marie in Témiscamingue, Cleõphüzz is a psychedelic rock band whose work is infused with desert themes. Alex Sabourin, Joseph Grenier, Joé Poitras, Xavier Nadeau Ouellet and Caroline Rondeau make up the group. They performed last year at FRIMAT, and put out an EP called Wizard of Phuzz in 2018. On March 20 this year, their new piece, Desperados, was picked up by Spotify.

Tip: Have a listen to Sandstorm

Adam Brousseau

Adam Brousseau is a young musician from La Sarre, now living in Drummondville. Although he’s just 18 years old, he put out his first album called Paradox in 2018. He opened for the Dead Obies last year at FRIMAT and all indications are that a bright musical future lies ahead.  Brousseau is a singer, songwriter, composer and guitarist; his music style can best be described as progressive, psychedelic rock.

Tip: Check out Incognito

Louis-Philippe Gingras

Originally from Rouyn-Noranda, Louis-Philippe Gingras is now based out of Montréal, and has performed throughout the province of Quebec. After studying jazz at university, he put out two full-length albums in 2013 and 2016, as well as numerous other singles. While being poetic, his songs are melodious, lively, and humorous.

Tip: Have a listen to Parc à chiens


Le groupe Nanochrome au FRIMAT en 2014, photo de Marie-Claude Robert




La fabrique culturelle




Laurence Doire Country Band (site officiel)

Saratoga (site officiel)

Louis-Philippe Gingras (site officiel)

top five Classic
Our Restaurants: Great Places for Lunch

Our Restaurants: Great Places for Lunch

For lunch with a business focus, lunch with friends, lunch with your sweetie pie or lunch to replace the one you forgot on the kitchen counter when you left for work, the choice in Val d’Or is endless and diverse. If you’re looking for comfort food, a healthy meal, or a quick bite, anywhere in town (east, west, downtown), you’ll find it. All palates and appetites welcome! Have a look at our five top picks for lunch in Val d’Or.



Le Conti, Continental Hotel

hotel motel continental restaurants

Le Conti is the restaurant at the Continental Hotel. It’s popular with locals and hotel patrons alike. In addition to their regular menu, there’s a soup, salad and hot buffet as well as a weekly menu with three different options every day. Its home cooking and welcoming environment make you feel as though you’re at grandma’s house. (Providing your grandma is a great cook and as comforting as can be!)

Tip :

souvlaki-kebabs (to die for) or the bacon & liver dish

Habaneros Mexicain Grill

Habaneros Grill Mexicain manger rapide Valdor

The Habaneros Mexican Grill (Habaneros Grill Mexicain) is the perfect place to ease your environmental conscience (take-out is served in biodegradable containers), look after your body and take a quick trip to Latin America.  You’ll find typical South American fare, such as quesadillas and burritos, cooked in traditional style. Focus is on ingredients that are locally sourced, fresh and natural. To the delight of many, Habaneros Mexican Grill is on a roll at the moment and is opening up new restaurants by the minute. There’s a Habaneros Mexican Grill in downtown Val d’Or, and another in the western area of the city in the same building as the Van Houtte Café. There are also Habaneros restaurants in Amos, Rouyn-Noranda and Sherbrooke.


you cannot go wrong—everything on the menu is excellent!

La Sandwicherie

Sandwicherie restaurant val d or healthy lunch

The friendly atmosphere in La Sandwicherie is what makes it so special. Mismatched chairs, cozy cushions in every possible colour, bright yellow walls that feel like constant sunshine and exhibitions that are always being refreshed.  The open-air kitchen makes for easy banter and conversation between patrons and owners. The laughter and high spirits are catching: it starts with a smile and then the cheeriness and camaraderie are so contagious that everyone becomes part of the conversation and, before you know it, customers are all kibitzing together like a bunch of old friends. Lunchtime there feels like a family reunion filled with great food and good times.


When they ask you whether you want sauce on your sandwich, the answer is most definitely ‘yes!’. It’s made of herbs and spices and is a beautiful, original touch to whatever sandwich you’ve ordered.

Le Canon at Escale Hotel Suites

L'escale hotel suite le canon restaurant fine cuisine

Le Canon is the restaurant at the Escale Hotel Suites. The decor is elegantly minimalist: white plush walls, a waterfall and huge windows that let in lots of light. The environment is very calm and peaceful. It’s the ideal setting for a business lunch, a serious conversation or a quiet moment. The lunch menu is full of interesting, flavourful dishes. Your plate will be loaded with veggies and the mashed potatoes are divine!


Give into temptation and try the Caprices de Brigitte pastry.




Les Becs sucrés-salés

restaurant val d'or becs sucrés salés

Folks who forgot to eat in the morning or whose favourite meal is breakfast will think they’ve died and gone to heaven here. Even at midday, delicious breakfasts are available, such as eggs Benedict, omelettes and French toast (try the cheese and fleur de sel caramel: doesn’t get any better!). Owner Régis Henlin is part of the Slow Food movement, which is evident in his menu. The Slow Food movement is focused on healthy, clean and ethically-produced food. To learn more about this international movement, click here. Les Becs Sucrés-Salés uses only top-quality, seasonal and locally- or regionally-sourced ingredients.  And the food tastes great!


Les Becs Sucrés-Salés also has a delicatessen and sells ready-to-eat meals. On your way in or out of the restaurant, take some time to check it out: you’ll find an array of delicious, inspiring, surprising and mind-blowing things to eat.


Whatever lunch experience you are seeking, whoever your companions are, wherever you may be, there’s a perfect spot for you in Val d’Or. We shared our favourites with you – what are your picks?


Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

When you think of October, you can’t help but think of Hallowe’en and ghost stories. There are all kinds of stories around and some of them can make us question our sanity. There are scary tales told the world over, including Val d’Or. Allow me to tell you a few of our own…

Oscar the Ghost in Hammond Place

Hammond Place has a long history. It was the head office for the Siscoe Mine in the early thirties when it was divided in three and moved to Bourlamaque, where it became the town hall in 1954. The post office and police department were also housed there. The prison ended up in the same building, in the basement, and is still there to this day, although the space has been converted into a storage vault for documents and archives. Various ministries and organizations have offices in the building. Currently, Hammond Place is the headquarters for the Regional County Municipality (RCM) of La Vallée-de-l’Or.


For a number of years, employees working in the building have noticed disturbing noises and eerie shadows. Numerous unusual visions over the years led them to the conclusion that ‘someone’ has been living there for a long time.  Apparently, his name is Oscar. Long ago, Oscar was a prisoner in the basement of Hammond Place and ended up hanging himself in his cell. One might conclude that his ghost would be a scary one, but aside from scaring a few people here and there, he’s never hurt anyone.


About 25 years ago, an employee named Denise saw Oscar one morning when she’d gone into work very early. She was the only one in the office at the time. No sooner had she sat down at her desk than she noticed someone sneaking past her door and duck into the neighbouring office. She hurried into the hall to see what could possibly be going on and no one was there. She was still alone in the office. Was this just a product of her sleepy imagination? Or was Oscar indeed the visitor she spied that morning?


There was another similar occurrence, on December 9, 2005, to be exact. It was at the annual office Christmas party. The employees and their spouses were all gathered in the basement in the RCM boardroom. Later in the evening, they began to play board games. Everyone was busy enjoying themselves and, all of a sudden, they heard the sound of running in the staircase.  They all stopped in their tracks and immediately looked around the room to see whether everyone was there. Indeed, all were present and accounted for. Someone or something else was making all the din. The guests went upstairs to have a look around and check the doors to make sure none were unlocked, and that no one else had entered the building.  Everything seemed fine. They found no intruder, and nothing had fallen. It had snowed that evening and there was a covering of new snow outside, so had someone entered the building there would have been footprints to prove it. There were no fresh tracks in the snow. Perhaps Oscar felt envious as he watched the party-goers having such a good time…

Lake of the Evil Spirit

Do you know the legend of Lake Matchi-Manitou?

The lake is in the town of Senneterre, in the Regional County Municipality (RCM) of La Vallée-de-l’Or. Its name means ‘evil spirit’. According to indigenous legend, a great moose hunter was hunting around the lake. He was really the best: he took down the largest animals and his hunting grounds were vast. The more moose he killed, the more he sold. As the cold months approached, everyone relied on the meat he sold. He was unstoppable. He tracked and killed moose around the lake, hunting more out of pleasure than need. His ego began to swell – he became reluctant to sell the meat and even wasteful on occasion.


One quiet, chilly fall evening, the hunter was cutting up a carcass on the other side of the lake. It was getting dark, so he quickly loaded the pieces into his canoe to get them back to his camp. As he began to paddle, the wind came up. It gathered strength, whipping up huge waves on the lake’s surface. The hunter began to panic. The boat started taking on water. It began to pour rain. Buffeted mercilessly by the waves, the hunter decided to turf the animal carcass into the water. As he did this, the canoe became top-heavy and capsized.


The next day, all the people he had turned against him found a birchbark canoe floating upside down on the lake and felt that justice had been done. Perhaps he’d been punished for his ego-centric ways and attracted the evil spirit that claimed his life. And so the lake got its name.

An Icy Death

Photo, Société d'histoire et de généalogie de Val-d'Or Fonds Gilbert Tardif

Stanley Siscoe
Société d’histoire et de généalogie de Val-d’Or-Fonds Gilbert Tardif

It’s probably not news to you that Stanley Siscoe, who founded the Siscoe Mine in Sullivan, froze to death on this same lake.


Stanley Siscoe, originally called Stanlaw Siskwo, emigrated to Canada from his native Poland. He changed his name when he got here to make it easier to pronounce. He is known as the man who established the Siscoe Mine in 1912. The mine was in operation from 1929 to 1949. The mine is situated on Siscoe Island, an area inhabited by First Nations people when he arrived. They were chased off their land by development of the mine and its related infrastructure.

Photo, Société d'histoire et de généalogie de Val-d'Or, Fonds Herby Goyette

The photo of Stanley Siscoe dead frozen on Lake Matchi-Manitou.
Société d’histoire et de généalogie de Val-d’Or-Fonds Gilbert Tardif

Unfortunately, Mr. Siscoe did not live long enough to see the mine in full operation. In March 1935, he was on his way back to Montréal by air. There was a vicious storm raging at the time, with high winds and glacial temperatures. The atrocious weather forced the pilot to make an emergency landing on a frozen lake near Senneterre, Lake  Matchi-Manitou. The plane became lodged in the ice and they waited for help for two long days. Stanley Siscoe, starving and chilled to the bone, decided to walk south. His frozen body was discovered lying in the snow the next day. Of the photos taken at the time, two different ones made the rounds. One depicting a man lying on his back and another, quite similar, with bank notes strewn around his body. Was it photo enhancement? Was it robbery? Did he throw his money into the air in one final desperate gesture, as though to say that his massive fortune could not save his life? There are those who like to think that the evil spirit came to get him as punishment for expelling the First Nations from their land to build the Siscoe Mine. The evil spirit is unforgiving…



Paul-Antoine Martel, a local history buff, says that Val d’Or is fertile ground for ghost stories and mysterious rumours.



Photo de couverture | Jack Cain sur Unsplash

The Best Cocktail Spots in Val-d’Or

The Best Cocktail Spots in Val-d’Or

Because summer just tastes so much better on a sunny patio, a refreshing cocktail in hand, I decided to do some detective work and find the best spots to unwind in Val-d’Or. I headed out on a reconnaissance mission with my friend, Marguerite (not her real name) (just for the fun of it, I decided to give someone I know a fictitious name, because I could). We established some very specific criteria for our mixology research: originality, ingredient ratios, execution and, of course, the bartender. Here are our findings:

Bar Bistro l’Entracte

The urban lounge feel at Bar Bistro l’Entracte is perfect for sitting back and enjoying a good cocktail. There, you’ll find the most extensive cocktail menu in Val-d’Or and a beautiful offering of top-quality spirits. In addition to the classics, you’ll find some house creations. Among others are L’Entracte, made with Hendrick’s gin, apple juice, sugar, lemon juice and 7 UP. It sounds sweet, but it’s actually quite refreshing and subtle on the pallet. If it’s a sweeter drink you’re after, I suggest the Limonade l’Entracte, which offers a fruity, summery taste.

One of my top favs is the Long Island Iced Tea. It’s absolutely sublime – one of the best I’ve ever tasted! It has just the right amount of alcohol in it (enough so that you know it’s there, but not so much that you feel your oesophagus being disinfected on every mouthful).

The quality of execution is certainly a reflection of bartender Daniel. He’s a talented mixologist who has been with Bar Bistro l’Entracte for a long time. His expertise, charisma and talent make the drinks and overall atmosphere there a real treat to experience.


During my mixology research with my friend “Marguerite”. While she was enjoying Long Island Iced Tea (the brown drink), I drank a Limonade L’Entracte (the orange cocktail).

Le Prospecteur Microbrewery

Although locally brewed craft beer is their speciality, Microbrasserie Le Prospecteur does a fine job on their cocktails too. With evocative names like La Grande pêcheuse (Come Hither) and Le Café du bûcheron (Lumberjack’s Java), most of their cocktails are original creations. Sweet or subtle, refreshing or comforting, the proportions are always just right. My personal favourite is a little number called the Frasilic, a mix of strawberries, fresh basil, vodka and sparkling water.

If you sit at the bar, you may get the chance to meet the lovely barman, Olivier. Not only is he funny and congenial, he has a wonderful talent for mixology and a great deal of imagination. In fact, challenge him to whip you up a surprise cocktail? I’m quite sure you won’t be disappointed.


With its delicious locally brewed craft beers, Le Prospecteur offers tasty beer cocktails. The one on that picture is a suggestion of bartender Olivier.  🙂 

Special Mention to La Tanière – William J. Walter

If you’re one of those people who believes that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself or you believe you’ve got potential as a mixologist, then I suggest you head over to La Tanière. In fact, even if you aren’t one of those people (you prefer that someone make you a good drink and serve it to you), I still recommend checking out La Tanière. (You can always resort to the DIY approach when you’re snowed in or back at home, unable to enjoy our delicious Val-d’Or cocktails.)

La Tanière is a purveyor of fine foods that sells William J. Walter sausage products, but also cheeses, deli meats, hot sauces, micro-brewery beers, the best sauerkraut in town and… – drum roll – a whole range of cocktail products! The shelves are stocked with simple flavoured syrups, lemonades, ginger ale syrup, colas or tonicBloody Caesar mixgarnishes and flavoured bitters, waiting to jazz up your drinks! All you need to do is let your imagination run wild! They also have all the essential bar accessories to make you feel like Tom Cruise in Cocktail. For instance, they sell a shaker that opens easily when it’s cold (the same model professional bartenders use), a strainer to get the fresh fruit juice out without any lumps or pulp getting into your glass, a pestle to crush lime, sugar and mint in your mojito and a long spoon to stir your martinis.


The display shelving of all cocktail products at La Tanière offers a great choice and always new stuff. 

Classic, sweet, refreshing, subtle or girly: whatever your taste, you’ll find everything you’re looking for at these four great cocktail spots in Val-d’Or. My parting suggestion would be to trust in the bartenders’ passion, expertise and talent and let them surprise you!

Let finish this blog on a good note with a clip of the great movie of Cocktail . 🙂 

The Best Cocktail Spots in Val-d'Or
No me moleste mosquito – Dodging the mozzies!

No me moleste mosquito – Dodging the mozzies!

Summer is synonymous with warm weather, swimming in the lake, camping, kicking back on the patio, ice cream…and those blasted mosquitoes! To support peaceful cohabitation with these tiny creatures while fully enjoying your time in the outdoors, we’ve a few suggestions for all you potential blood donors: some tips for keeping them at bay and a relief plan if you aren’t successful.

How do mosquitoes select their victims?

There has been a lot of research done to determine what exactly attracts mosquitoes when they’re out looking for blood and whether some folks are more likely to get bitten than others. Although it’s a complex subject, there are some certainties to share.

Mosquitoes are primarily attracted to carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas we exhale in the process of breathing. Once mozzies have zeroed in on their blood donor, guided by their CO2 emissions, they then proceed to the next level of selection based on a number of factors.

First of all, mozzies love heat. The more heat you give off, the more they love you. Which is why it is recommended that you wear light-coloured clothing to ward off mosquitoes. Dark colours retain heat more easily so people wearing dark clothing will produce more heat and be more attractive to the mozzies. They also enjoy people who are physically active or just hotter by nature.

Smell is also very important in how mozzies choose their blood donors. Their sense of smell is actually so powerful that they can pick up about 150 different odours that emanate from the body – not all detectable by humans. The components of perspiration, skin bacteria and other smells the body gives off are all factors in how attractive an odour is to mozzies. In fact, certain perfumes and cholesterol (!) even feature among their preferences.

Another thing mozzies really love, over which you have no control, is your blood type. Japanese researchers have shown that mosquitoes have a penchant for blood type O because it’s high-protein.

A study of the correlation between drinks consumed and the frequency of mosquito bites showed that people who drink alcohol, particularly, beer, have a greater chance of being bitten than those who drink water.

How to avoid mosquitoes

Pick your times for heading outdoors.

Since mosquitoes are more plentiful in the spring (especially when it’s a wet one), at dawn, dusk and after it rains, it’s best to remain indoors then. Being on or in the water and out in the wind are good ways to escape from mozzies.

Wear light rather than dark or coloured clothing.

Dark colours absorb the heat (remember, mosquitoes are drawn to heat) and bright colours are easily picked up by mosquitoes’ photosensitive eyes.

Avoid perfumes, soaps, fragrant creams and aftershave.

As mentioned earlier, mosquitoes decide whether a blood donor is tasty or not based on their body odour.

Stay zen!

The more agitated you are, the more heat you give off and the more appealing you are to the mozzies.

Apply insect repellent, preferably on your clothes.

Commercially available insect repellents sold in stores often contain DEET, a chemical that scares off mosquitoes. The concentrations of DEET depend on the repellent. The concentration won’t affect the effectiveness of the repellent, but the duration. An insect repellent containing 30% DEET will last six (6) hours while a concentration of 10%, will last about three (3) hours. Insect repellent containing DEET is not recommended for children under a year old.

There are also natural and homemade insect repellents. Once again, it’s a matter of how long it lasts. Citronella, lemon eucalyptus oil and rose geranium are three essential oils that mozzies really don’t care for. They can be mixed with vegetable oil and applied to the body or put in a diffuser to keep mozzies away. Again, essential oil should not be applied directly on children’s skin.

How to find relief from mosquito bites

Despite all these helpful tips, a few mozzies may try to draw out some of your blood, because there’s one thing that attracts them that you’re better off not doing anything about: breathing!

So, if you get bitten and the itch is unbearable, here are a few ways of finding some relief:

  • Apply ice to the bite. The cold will contract your blood vessels which in turn helps to reduce the swelling and numb the skin, thereby decreasing your discomfort.
  • Apply a cotton pad soaked in vinegar to the bite for 30 minutes. Vinegar is a natural antiseptic with anti-itch properties.
  • Apply aloe gel on the bites. Aloe works real magic when it comes to healing skin! It also has a cooling, soothing effect that helps you to resist scratching your itch.
  • Apply essential oil of spike lavender or real lavender (lavanda angustifolia) on your bites. This essential oil is also found in many natural mosquito repellent recipes.

Still looking for more tips to keep mozzies away or relieve their bites? Visit our Camping page on Pinterest [French only]:

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Now, you might feel that you are better equipped to fight off mozzies effectively, instead of just madly waving your hands around in the air with annoyance. My intention is for this information to have the best possible experience in the fresh air and the great outdoors this summer!


Cover picture | Manlake Gabriel

Moving back at the Visitor information centre of Val-d’Or

Moving back at the Visitor information centre of Val-d’Or

After important renovations, our team is moving back at the Visitor Information Centre of Val-d’Or at the 1070, 3e Avenue Est.

Our relocation is in the same time of the beginning of the summer season and the change of our opening hours. From May 17th to September 1st 2019, we will be open daily from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm.

Due to the relocation, we will be close from Friday May 10th to Tuesday May 14th, 2019.

However, during the relocation, we will have a stand at the Super Salon Kinsmen and will be able to answer all your questions about the not-to-be-miss activities for the summer. We will also bring our brand new map of Val-d’Or which now presents all the name of the lakes in Val-d’Or in the Anicinabe native language.

To know more about the Super Salon Kinsmen

The Super Salon Kinsmen will be held at the Air Creebec Centre at the 810, 6e Avenue à Val-d’Or.


Opening hours

Friday, 6 pm to 10 pm

Saturday, 11 am to 10 pm

Sunday, 11 am to 4:30 pm


With Tourisme Amos-Harricana which will share our stand, we are proposing to you to participate to a contest. Come see us at our stand to fill up a ballot to win two tickets for the summer theater Amos vous raconte son histoire (show only in French) and two tickets for the summer theater Val-d’Or vous raconte son histoire (show only in French).

Cover Photo | Erda Estremera