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Geology 101: Follow the yellow brick road …

Geology 101: Follow the yellow brick road …

Come to Abitibi-Témiscamingue, specifically, Val-d’Or, and discover our very own yellow brick road. In this case, the ‘yellow’ refers to all the gold that lies beneath our feet when we’re anywhere near Highway 117.  Every time we take that highway from the eastern limits of Val-d’Or to the Ontario border, we are actually riding on gold! Yes sirree, the road actually runs along the Cadillac Fault, which contains abundant deposits of the precious metal.

Although no one I know has found the pot of gold (even though the average income here is among the highest in the province of Quebec), we can still follow the yellow brick road several times a day!

What is the Cadillac Fault?

Here’s the short course in geology: the Cadillac Fault, Cadillac Break or Cadillac-Larder Lake tectonic zone, refers to a major, mineral-rich geological structure in Quebec and Ontario. In the goldrush days, prospectors followed the fault in their search for the precious mineral and, to that end, built the road that is now Highway 117 along the Cadillac Break.  Which also explains all the mines you see along the fault line; there are hundreds of millions of ounces of gold buried underneath the road and in its vicinity.

The Cadillac Fault is about 320 km long and very rich in gold deposits, but it also contains silver, copper, zinc and many other minerals. In fact, it is one of the main gold structures in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.  The mines that sprouted up alongside the fault gave birth to the regional cities and towns of Rouyn-Noranda, Val-d’Or, and Malartic among others.

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Image of the Cadillac Fault, Source | L’ATLAS de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue [French only]

Discovering the mining industry

If you are as fascinated by gold as the prospectors were at the turn of the last century, I can recommend visiting two really interesting places where the mining industry and our age-old fascination for gold really come alive. You might begin at Cité de l’Or and the historic village of Bourlamaque where you can experience what the life of a miner was like and follow the history from the early days to modern times. When you’ve emerged from your journey into the workings of an old gold mine 300 feet underground, I highly recommend the Abitibi-Témiscamingue mineralogical museum (Musée minéralogique de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue).

Our underground wealth has meant that we’ve had to move not mountains, but entire neighbourhoods. Visit the Musée minéralogique and discover how a mining operation pulled it off then check out the museum’s breathtaking gold collection.

If you still haven’t had your fill of tales from the frontier, then, you could visit Canadian Malartic, the largest operating open-pit gold mine in Canada, which offers guided visits in conjunction with the Abitibi-Témiscamingue mining museum.

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While you are visiting the essay laboratory, you will have the chance to assist to a real gold melting! 

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The underground galleries of La Cité de l’Or

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During your visit at the Canadian Malartic Mine you will stop at the Employee’s post observation.

Become a miner for a day at the Cité de l’Or by travelling 300 feet underground, explore the mining village of Bourlamaque, visit the Musée minéralogique de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue and its impressive gold collection and experience firsthand the Canadian Malartic open-pit mine, so that you, too, can follow the yellow brick road!

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8 Reasons to Tour Val-d’Or and Abitibi-Témiscamingue on a Motorcycle

8 Reasons to Tour Val-d’Or and Abitibi-Témiscamingue on a Motorcycle

Motorcycle touring options in Abitibi-Témiscamingue are endless. The potential for adventure and discovery is too! If you are a motorcyclist, Val-d’Or has so much to offer: customized, personal service, attractions, restaurants to satisfy all your taste buds and hotels that will make you feel right at home. So much to see and do! Here are eight reasons to tour Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Val-d’Or on a motorcycle.

To discover La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve

La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve alone is worth the trip to Abitibi-Témiscamingue: it is amazing to behold. Let yourself fall under the spell of its magnificent landscapes, covered in white pine, spruce, fir and a few deciduous trees, thousands of lakes and rivers, floating islands and majestic rock cliffs. Crossing the bridge over the Ottawa River is one of my all-time favourite sections. Still to this day, I find it breathtaking every time! There are lots of rest stops along the way, to take a little break or soak your feet in the water.

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Many rest stops are located on the shore of a lake or a river.

A free cleaning kit to get your ride nice and shiny

Available at our tourism information office, this kit contains everything you need to clean up your bike and restore that shine it deserves. Just ask for your free kit at our reception desk where our tourism advisors will be happy to help you out. You can buff up your motorcycle in the specially designated area in our parking lot. Mosquitoes and dust will soon be nothing but a bad memory!

Hotel specials to make your stay with us more pleasant

A number of hotels offer special packages for motorcyclists travelling in our area. The Escale Hôtel Suites, Quality Inn & Suites and Hôtel Continental Downtown all offer breakfast along with a variety of other options: dinner special (table d’hôte), gas card, visit to a local attraction or massage. To see all packages available, click here.

Warmth and simplicity

People in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Val-d’Or are known for their warmth and simplicity. They’ll greet you with a smile and treat you like royalty! In Val-d’Or, you’re sure to meet jovial, friendly and refreshingly straightforward locals who’ll leave you with lovely memories of your time here.

Lively downtown and lots of restaurants with outdoor patios

There’s nothing better after a day of riding than a cold beer on a sunny patio, soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of summer. Downtown Val-d’Or is a happening place, with lots of restaurants with patios to add the perfect finishing touch to your day on the motorbike. Le Prospecteur microbrewery, for example, offers a wide selection of craft beers and a roof patio with an uninterrupted view of downtown. You can taste the best poutine in town at Chez Ti-Pit Snack-bar for your lunch break. Or let yourself be transported to Asia by the typically Thai fare at the Ô Thaï restaurant. Only to name a few!

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The Bar bistro l’Entracte patio is another great option. This pub offers a great view on the historic site of Bourlmaque Mining Village.

Free downtown parking sticker

We provide a free downtown parking sticker for our visitors to make it easier for you to enjoy some carefree downtime on our patios. It allows you to park your motorcycle anywhere downtown at a parking meter or in parking lots with a pay station. Anyone residing outside the regional county municipality of Vallée-de-l’Or is entitled to the parking sticker. It’s available free-of-charge at our tourism information office at 1070 3rd Avenue East at the eastern entrance to the city, which is the one you use to access Val-d’Or if you’re coming from Montreal. The Rouyn-Noranda tourism information office provides the same service to anyone who lives outside Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Rolling on gold

Who can say that they’ve ridden on gold? Well, anyone who’s taken Highway 117 from Val-d’Or to Rouyn-Noranda! Indeed, the road runs along the Cadillac Fault, which contains abundant deposits of gold. To learn more about this gold-rich fault line, go to: https://tourismevaldor.com/cours-de-geologie-101-rouler-sur-lor/

There’s a lot to discover about the mining industry while touring our area by motorcycle. You might begin at Cité de l’Or where you can morph into a miner for a few hours and travel 300 feet underground to explore the workings of an old gold mine. Then, you could visit Canadian Malartic, the largest operating open-pit gold mine in Canada, and experience an earthquake at the Abitibi-Témiscamingue mining museum (Musée minéralogique de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue).

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To visit the underground galleries of La Cité de l’Or, you have to dress yourself up like a miner.

You will be amazed by the gigantic equipment used at the Canadian Malartic Mine.

The artistic fountain route

If you’re one of those people who thinks that motorbike trips are made for riding and not for visiting tourist attractions along the way (my dad and my sister are like that, too!), I have a cultural activity to suggest, which you can enjoy with getting off your bike. In the Amos-Harricana region, there are 10 artistic fountains in 10 different municipalities. These fountains are a delightful excuse to stop for just a minute and take a little breather. The fountains are beautiful and each one is unique. And this itinerary will take you through some magnificent countryside, a changing landscape of farms and forests, striking in its immensity. The fountain route is described in the Amos-Harricana tourist guide available in all the visitor information centres in the area. You can also have a peek by clicking here or click here to see it on Google Maps or download the free app from Balado Discovery for Android or BaladoDiscovery for iPhone/iPad.

Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Val-d’Or are wonderful destinations for motorcyclists: our roads, beautiful scenery, personalized services, restaurants, outdoor patios, activities and hotels are all part of the magic you’ll find here. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will have an amazing, memorable time!