The Hotels of Lac Mercier

Lac Mercier began to attract holidayers, enchanted by the beauty of the surroundings, the pure air, the hunting, fishing and other numerous activities.

Many tourists came to the region simply to enjoy the clean air, or to operate small craft on the lake, or to profit from the activities that occurred in the hotels. Outdoor activities  and open air sports were becoming more and more popular.

Having become a tourist destination for the well-off, it was the attraction of downhill skiing that  brought more tourists  during the 30s and 40s.

For a few hours train ride from Montreal, all of these activities were now accessible. The improvement in the road system, as well as the affordability of the automobile, brought large numbers of tourists to the region.

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“Hotel Mont-Tremblant”

The “Hotel Mont-Tremblant,” whose architecture from the beginning of the 20th century has remained essentially unchanged, was built at lac Mercier around 1902.

Coll. Vicki Benoit

Joseph Dufour, son of Amable Dufour, one of the first settlers established in Saint-Jovite, worked at that time for the G. H. Perley Company. In the forests surrounding lac Tremblant, lumbering was very active. The lake served as conduit to float log booms towards the Caché river, then into the Diable river, and finally into the Rouge river on their way to Grenville-sur-la-Rouge in the Hawkesbury region.

In 1902, Joseph Dufour obtained the rights to acquire certain lots. On one of these lots at lac Tremblant, he built a 6 unit boarding house. After completing the rooming house construction, he sold it to his brother-in-law, Zéphirin Meilleur, who now became a “boardinghouse keeper” on lac Tremblant.

Having acquired lot 36 in range ll from Edouard-Henri Mercier, Joseph Dufour undertook the construction of another hotel, at lac Mercier.

On November 22 1901, farmer François Sigouin father, sold a water source (spring) to fellow farmer Célestin Bisson. The spring was situated on lot 35 of range ll, was coming from the mountain side on the north side of « chemin du lac Tremblant » (now chemin du Village), along with the right to build a basin and an aqueduct. Pipes 1000 feet long are installed to bring the water to Joseph Dufour’s location on lot 36 of range ll.

Joseph Dufour now had a reliable source of water for the hotel that he was to build. The building would become the “Hotel Mont-Tremblant”, then « Lac Mercier Inn »

Joseph Dufour sold the new construction to François Archambault, in 1902. Did François Archambault participate to the construction of the hotel?

François Archambault is a very well known church builder from l’Assomption area, and was also a friend of Joseph Meilleur. François Archambault and Ozine Magnan were witnesses at the christening of Armande Meilleur in 1905, daughter of Joseph Meilleur. The Archambaults’ daughter, Anna Archambault, wife of  Dr. Eugène Gervais, would celebrate the wedding of their son Gaston Gervais and Armande Meilleur in 1926.

Zéphirin Meilleur, Joseph Dufour’s brother-in-law, would become the owner of “Lac Mercier Inn” about twenty years later.

Joseph Dufour repossessed the building on September 12 1905, then sold it one week later to Wilfrid Guay, a businessman from l’Annonciation ( now Rivière-Rouge). Wilfrid Guay and his wife, Donalda Renaud then became full time hoteliers.

The hotel serviced clients coming from the railway station which was finished in 1904, on an adjoining lot. The area was perfectly located to welcome train passengers.

There was feverish activity in the hotel prior to the arrival of the weekly train. The  “Lac Mercier Inn” quickly became a gathering place for the residents of the region. They waited at the hotel until the train, carrying long-awaited mail, which was sorted at the post office  on the other side of the street.

In 1906, the hotel also accommodated the workers from the forestry industry, and those of the A.D. Gall Petroleum  & Chemical Co., that has just installed themselves on the plateau located between “lac Brochet” (renamed lac Moore) and the lac Mercier.

The train also permitted the residents, up until then isolated in their small community, to visit their friends and relatives more easily and also receive them as hosts. It is also the beginning of the tourist industry, that brought people from the city by train to visit the region, and enjoy hunting and fishing as well as country life.

This small advertisement appeared in the Montreal newspapers in 1915:

At the “Lac Mercier Inn”, the barman was always friendly and jovial, and the customers felt very much at home. The locals gathered there to party, and the barman assisted those who had  a few too many, by renting them a room.

Collection: Maurice Duclos

Wilfrid Guay managed the hotel until his death in 1916. Afterwards, his widow Donalda Renaud, managed the hotel until took over the management until 1921.

That year, Zéphirin Meilleur, who was operating a small boardinghouse in lac Tremblant since 1902, sold it to his brother Joseph. Joseph Meilleur had a wider vision to transform the rooming house into a large hotel, of 60 or more rooms, adapted to the new tourist clientele: the “Hotel Meilleur”. That successful hotel was later purchased by Joseph Bondurand Ryan in 1943.

According to an article in the  Gazette de Montréal, the Hôtel Lac Mercier underwent a fire in 1918, and was then rebuilt the following year. Other sources have said that, following a major fire in the village, the hotel was rebuilt in 1923.

On October 11 1921, Zéphirin Meilleur sign a lease of 10 years (with intention to purchase) which Donalda Renaud, to operate the “Lac Mercier Inn”. Zéphirin unfortunately died the following year, and his wife Victorine Hamel, became the owner of the hotel, by commitment to sell, on October 15, 1923.

In May 1924,, Victorine acquired a piece of land big enough for 12 garages, on the other side of the road. The previous owner was Adélard Matte.

In January 1925, Victorine married François D’Assise Barette, and going forward, it would be her husband to authorize her to enter into legal contracts.

Read Loi sur la capacité juridique des femmes

In June 1931, the adjacent property is sold to Joseph Romain Lavigne, who operated a general store, whose building had a common wall with Adélard Richer.

The hotel was known for a long time as the « Lac Mercier Inn »During the winter 1932-1933, the first mecanical ski lift (rope tow) in America, was installed at Shawbridge, near St-Jérome. Joe Ryan installed the first chair lift during the winter 1938-1939 at Mont-Tremblant.

In order to profit from the increasing tourist business created by these changes, the “Lac Mercier Inn changes its name to  “Hotel Mont-Tremblant”.

 

Coll. Peter Bourget
Coll. Pierre McCabe

It was in 1937, the hotel began to welcome skiers attracted to the facilities at Mont-Tremblant.

On April 7 1941, Victorine Hamel and François D’Assise Barette sold all the properties that they owned, including the source and the water system to Ovila Robitaille, a charcoal merchant from Montreal.

In the decade after the war, the hotel hands again and again:  sold in January 1945 to Elisabeth Nicole, widow of a Montreal tavern keeper Arthur Bérubé, who held the property until August of the same year, when Irène Pagé, wife of accountant Louis-Philippe Barsalo, became the owner of the business.

In October 1948, the new Montreal owners were: Georges Arpin (Laurette Denis), a director of “France Film”, his brother Lionel Arpin, a linotypist, and a hotel keeper Raymond Bourgon. Two years later, Raymond Bourgon left the business.

Annonce 1949
Coll. Peter Bourget

On March 25 1953, it was the turn to hotelier Roger Baervoets (Lucille Sénécal) from Rosemère but originally from Bruxelles, to become the owners. The hotel was now operated by someone with experience, which gave it a second wind.

In June 1966, it was now the turn for Montreal-Nord hotelier, Charles Ayotte (Angèle Fréchette) to operate the business in Mont-Tremblant. He later sold the property to hotel keeper Roy Fetherstonaugh on December 9 1971.

The latter sold the hotel to local businessmen on December 19 1980: Guy Dubois and Raymond Hotte. The hotel became very popular with locals who referred to its bar as « Au Coin ».

However, Roy Fetherstaunaugh had kept the parcel of land along the lakeshore until 1981, on which was built the “Auberge Onwego”.

Hôtel Mont-Tremblant 1990

In September 1999, Philippe Laudat purchased the business, and revived the hotel and its restaurant considerably. Originally from France, Philippe was very experienced in the field of quality food service, and made many improvements.

Next, it was the turn of Malachai O’Conner and David Innes to give the enterprise a decidedly Irish flavor, from October 2008 to July 2010. During that time, the hotel became an authentic Irish Pub, whose popularity has not diminished since then.

The hotel was then repossessed by Philippe Laudat, who again displayed his considerable hotel-keeping skills until the recent sale in 2017 to administrator Marie-Josée Labbé.

Marie-Josée who is passionate about local history, is committed to reviving the best days of the hotel, again making it an unforgettable gathering place.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the hotel had change its name, endured a fire in 1918, was rebuilt and renovated on several occasions, as well as having change ownership hands on multiple occasions.

Review the chronicle by Peter Duncan “Hotel Mont-Tremblant, almost 120 years of history


 

The “Chalet du Lac”

This part of lot 36 of range ll where is located the hotel, was originally owned by Virginie St-Denis, the widow of Honoré Mercier, and then by Edouard-Henri Mercier.

The “Chalet du lac” was built at the beginning of the 20th century, by the forestry company who had its installations between lac Brochet (lac Moore) and lac Mercier, in order to lodge its workers.

In 1905, this imposing building was visible in the current location of the « Félix Calvé » building (the old city hall of the municipality of Mont-Tremblant).

 

Chalet du lac 1930
Coll. Pierre McCabe

 

Collection SOPABIC
Snack bar devant le Chalet du lac, vers 1946
Collection: Peter Duncan

 

The hotel “Chalet du lac” was briefly owned by Ernest Benoit, who operated it from 1932 to 1934. The Standard Chemical Co. repossessed the hotel and operated it for a few years.

On July 22, 1939, the company sold all of the buildings that has been erected on its lots, including the hotel, to Rév. Charles-Hector Deslauriers, village priest of  Mont-Tremblant. Father Deslauriers was very involved in the promotion of sports, and was a committed amateur of horticulture, and used a large room of the hotel to organize activities for young people from the region.

Later, the hotel returned to accommodating tourists, up until a fire destroyed the building in 1952.


 

“Manoir Lac Mercier”

According to an audio capsule: : Les Mercier, premiers villégiateurs, the Merciers were established in a large villa where all the family gathered each year during the Summer.

Collection Nicole Roch

After the death of Edouard-Henri Mercier in June 1905, his two daughters Cécilia et Évelina became his heirs. Cécilia transferred her part of the estate to Evelina « Eva » Mercier. When Évelina« Eva » Mercier died in September 1920, her properties were ceded to her husband, Alfred Beaudoin, as well as to her 6 children. The Beaudoin children continued to visit lac Mercier.

The lot 37 on which was built the villa of the Merciers, has a new owner on November 20, 1926: Victoria Desroches, widow of Ulric Surprenant, who was a “voiturier” in Massachusetts while he was living, bought the property and operated the place as a small hotel of 12 rooms.The  villa became the “Manoir lac Mercier.

The following year, on November 1927, Victoria Desroches sold the property to Edouard Plouffe (Ernestine Coupal, a hotel keeper in Saint-Jérôme, but continued to operate the hotel until late 30s.

The Plouffe family, who lived in St-Jovite at the beginning of the century, owned several hotels in the Laurentians.

Xavier Plouffe,  the father of Edouard, was already a hotel keeper in 1901. Edouard Plouffe, the 8th of 14 children, took up the enterprise after the death of his father in 1910. When he acquired the “Manoir Lac Mercier” in 1938, he was also the owner of  the hotel near the Canadian Pacific railway station in Saint-Jérome since 1921, The hotel Plouffe ».

One year after the death of his wife, Ernestine Coupal, Edouard Plouffe sold the « Manoir Lac Mercier » on October  3 1947 to  Joseph «Pit» Pépin and Lionel Vaillancourt.

The latter withdrew in October 1949, and Joseph « Pitt » Pépin  and his wife Jeanne Desormeaux managed the hotel up until November 1955.

Coll. Nicole Roch
Coll. Nicole Roch

Ma jeunesse au temps du Manoir Lac Mercier… par Nicole Roch

The “Manoir Lac Mercier” attracted a large clientele up until the ‘60s,after which the Manoir was destroyed in a fire.

The name « chemin Plouffe » originated with the Plouffe family, who owned several properties on this road near the center of the village

The daughter of Edouard Plouffe, Gabrielle Plouffe-Monette, lived on chemin Plouffe until her death in 1996.

The son of François and grandson of Edouard, Pierre Plouffe, was renown for having won the world water ski championship in 1971, and also finished 5th in the Munich Olympic games in 1972. He had begun to enjoy water ski at the age of 10 years, and his first competition was on lac Ouimet in Mont-Tremblant. Pierre Plouffe is still passionate of water skiing and competing,  and continues to overcome the challenges associated with operating Centre nautique Pierre Plouffe at lac Tremblant.

 


 

“Hotel Pointe du Rocher”

On May 19 1897, Alphonse-Denis Dury (Marie Giroux) obtains by letters patent, a few lots on the west side of the lake. (Lot 4 and lots 8 and 9) along the “chemin Bisson” (ch. du lac Mercier) leading to Labelle.

Arthur O’Meara acquired parts of  lots 4 and 5 of range D (100 acres), and built a house on a rocky promontory on the shore of lac Mercier. The property was sold to a New-York architect, Louis E. Roy, on February 8 1906.

Louis Roy (Laurence Robert) lived in New-York and later moved to Montreal in 1909. They came to  lac Mercier for their holidays.Their son Lucien Roy and his wife Jeanne Beaudoin, daughter of Évelina Mercier, spent much time at the house up until 1928, the family of Jeanne lived just on the other side of the lake.

Louis Roy, became a widower, and sold the property on December 6,1928 to Paul Vincent Syracuse (Florina Robert), tailor in St-Jovite, who acquired the property to transform it into a boarding house and named it « le Belvedère » which he kept for several years.

 

Collection Brien Benoit

 

On December 24 1934, after few changes of hands, the property is sold by the sheriff, on the steps of the church, this place being designated for auctions, and Euclide Dubois, a businessman from lac Ouimet is the winner of the auction.

Euclide Dubois, whose family originated from Ste-Thérèse area, acquired several lots between lac Ouimet and lac Mercier. Euclide owns a sawmill located near the road leading to the village. Carpenter and entrepreneur, he was participating to the construction of the church in 1929, and he is also owned the Hotel Villa Bellevue at lac Ouimet.

On May 7 1936, his son-in-law Hector Calvé (Irène Dubois) bought the property, and the boarding house was soon transformed into a hotel of approximately 20 rooms, and acquired the name of « Hotel Pointe du rocher ».

The Hotel in 1942 – Coll. Brien Benoit

 

Coll. Brien Benoit

 

The hotel became a very popular location for numbers of tourists, up until the 1970s.

Hotel “Pointe du Rocher” during the time of the Calvé’s family ownership

 

Collection Brien Benoit

 

vers 1950, Collection Marc Calvé
Coll. G. Lauzon: In lobby of Hotel Pointe du Rocher 1964
Collection Brien Benoit

 

Hector Calvé operated the business until February 1968. The hotel changed hands on several occasions, and hotel operations ceased permanently on June 12, 1974.

After several renovations, the building became a private residence, and remains so today.


 

The “Hotel Windermere”

Bénoni St-Jean, farmer and carpenter in canton of Clyde, acquired lots 1, 2 and 3 of range D in canton of Clyde, which were all the southern portion of lac Mercier, on both sides of the lake. On July 18 1902, he sold the three lots to Jérémie Bonnier dit Laplante, a farmer in canton of Clyde.

On August 4 1903, Jérémie Bonnier sold all of the western portion of lots 1, 2 and 3 to Joseph Robert, a farmer from St-Jovite.

The lots were cleared and cultivated, and later subdivided. The road leading to Labelle is relocated further west.

Hotel keeper Joseph Greenough bought lot 2-20 of range D in canton of Clyde on June 26 1933, and built a hotel: the “Windermere“.

Joseph Greenough and his successors, operated the hotel until April 9, 1946. The building is then sold to hotel keeper Armand Bastien.

 

The hotel was nicknamed the “Honeymoon Lodge“. During this period after the war, there were numerous tourists, who  very much enjoyed their stay.

The « Hotel Windermere», under the ownership of Armand Bastien, attracted tourists for over 20 years.

 

Photostream Armand Bastien

Armand Bastien decided to leave the hotel business, and in July 1967, it was sold to Albert Deslauriers, who only kept it for a short time. Following a court order, the hotel was transferred to Monique Cousineau (Me Guy Rouleau) in October 1968. Hotel operation ceased.

There were several owners, and the building was renovated and became a private home. Since 1979, it is occupied by the same owner.


 

The “Shadynook Inn”

Hôtel Windermere  et Shadynook Inn  vers 1940 Coll. Nicole Roch

Bénoni St-Jean, first owner of lots 1, 2 and 3 of range D in canton of Clyde, which were all the southern portion of lac  Mercier on both sides of the lake. On July 18 1902, he sold the three lots to farmer Jérémie Bonnier dit Laplante. The latter sold the entire western portion of these lots to Joseph Robert, a farmer from St-Jovite, on August 4, 1903.

The lots 1, 2 and 3 were cleared, cultivated and later subdivided. The old road leading to Labelle is known as “chemin Bisson “(now ch. du lac Mercier). The name originated with Zéphirin Bisson who was established with his family in this sector.

Charles Williams acquires from Joseph Robert parts of lots 2 and 3 of range D. A large stream crossed the lots, and was fed by a small lake located on the top of the mountain (lac Saint-Jean). Also, the old public road has been relocated further to the west, which make the land particularly attractive.  

Georges Edouard Ponthieu, originally from Paris, came to Canada in 1907. On May 25 1912, he purchased lots from  Charles Williams, and subdivided them.. On one part of lot 2-1, he built a hotel (boarding house) known as the « Shadinook ». In addition to the main building, several other smaller structures were also built.

On April 25 1921, the property is purchased by Walter Ephraim Harrison.

 

Shady Nook Inn   Collection: Société du Patrimoine SOPABIC

His son Kenneth Harrison has an entrepreneurial spirit. At the age of 17 years, he worked during the Summer for his parents; his job was to transport the tourists that arrived at the train station, and bring them by rowboat to the hotel, and then return them once their stay was over. He also was involved in cleaning the oil lamps, that provided light in the hotel.

During the Winter, Ken worked at Northern Electric In Montreal. He was successful in obtaining a discount of 50% on  the sale of electrical equipment from the company, which inspired him with the idea of installing electricity in the hotel, which spared him the unpleasant task of cleaning the oil lamps.

… more about   Kenneth Harrison

In July 1932, Walter E. et Martha Harrison transferred the hotel and the associated lands to their son Kenneth Harrison. In 1934, Ken was obliged to borrow and mortgage the building. Since this loan was risky, ken’s parents decided to cancel their heritage donation in August 1935. Walter et Martha took over the business for a certain time. The hotel became a “rooming house” called the “Pension Harrison“.

In 1935, Ken became very involved in the “Club de ski Mont-Tremblant”, which he has just established. In 1938, Joe Ryan, while visiting Gray Rocks, overflew the mountain of 3200 feet, in one of Tom Wheeler’s plane , accompanied by journalist Lowell Thomas. This was the beginning of the ambitious project to make this mountain a major tourist center. For Kenneth Harrison, the Club de ski Mont-Tremblant soon became his main activity in Mont-Tremblant, as well as operating a hotel in Ste-Agathe.

Walter gradually withdrew from the rooming house business end, and sold the property in 1946.

After several changes in ownership, the old Shadinook Inn was purchased on May 11, 1957 by the  Zionist Organization of Canada.

The camp Kinneret Biluim obtained ownership on April 6, 1984.


Hotel Chez-Soi & Bar Alpin

Hotel Chez Soi & Bar Alpin , further on the road

 

Hôtel Chez-Soi & Bar Alpin (Coll. M. Gallagher)
Hôtel Chez Soi & Bar Alpin 1990

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