SI Vault
Horace Sutton
June 06, 1955
Whether he tries for 'mouchet�es' or 'arc-en-ciels,' the traveling angler who visits French Canada via steamer will find a delightfully different vacation
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June 06, 1955

Vive La Trout Du Canada!

Whether he tries for 'mouchet�es' or 'arc-en-ciels,' the traveling angler who visits French Canada via steamer will find a delightfully different vacation

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A trout that is mouchet�e is a trout that is pink on the inside, speckled on the outside and always hungry. Mouchet�e trout and, to a point, even arc-en-ciels (see cover) abound in that schizoid land of French Canada where part of the population speaks French, the other part English, and signs are printed in both.

I can't think of a more comfortable way of getting to the trout than by vapeur, a term which to much of the Quebec population means steamboat. These steamboats are operated by the Canada Steamship Lines on a half-French, half-English basis, and puff regularly down the St. Lawrence River from the quay at Montreal, carrying padres in berets and black robes, French-Canadian honeymooners in new shoes and fishermen in old shirts.

A vapeur is something less than the Ile de France and something more than, say, a bateau mouche, those little craft that skim along the Seine loaded with French lovers and American tourists. They have cabins with regular beds, a hold in which to carry your car, and a menu that is printed in French and English. Here in this 50-50 world, puffed wheat becomes bl� souffl�, and little things you took for granted, like a maple walnut sundae, emerge as sundae � l'�rable et aux noix.


Now the vapeur people, besides running the vapeurs, also operate two fabled summer hotels along the route, the Manoir Richelieu at Murray Bay, and the Tadoussac Hotel at the entrance to the Saguenay River. The Manoir is a double, king-sized Norman ch�teau with great carpeted halls, a dining room in which the 405th United States Infantry could stage an encampment, and a golf course which requires two elevators to transport players from green to tee. Tadoussac is both smaller and simpler, but both resorts, besides having golf, swimming pools, tennis courts, and ample places to exchange your cash for cashmere sweaters, Murray Bay blankets and other impedimenta, maintain fishing camps in the environs.

The Manoir's fishing camp is 42 miles from the hotel, a route covered by chauffeured limousine with one brief stop for last-minute equipment at C.A. Brouillard's general store, a place that sells pickles, linoleum, spinners, landing nets and shares in a nearby uranium mine. The Manoir's base camp consists of three cabins, each of which has two double rooms with a bath between. The tariff is $14 a day for room and board, the use of a rod and reel if you don't have your own, and also the camp's jeep.

French-Canadian guides are assigned by L. (Paul) Chamberlain, the camp manager, and you can have your choice of 36 lakes to fish on, including Bonhomme Laurent, Calabash, Belly and Lac au Blanc. A few can be reached by a short jeep journey, but most are open only to a man on foot. There is one boat tied up at each lake, and Chico, a 45-minute walk, is equipped with a sleeping cabin, outdoor plumbing and a supply of food.

Those who return to the base camp each night get home cooking over a birch-log fire by Mme. Chamberlain, including soupe aux pois, tourti�re—a farmer pie, or a bouilli, which is a sort of stew of beef, pork, cabbage, turnips, carrots and whatever else is handy. Also there is trout, pan-fried, pink and crusty.

The trout are all brook trout here, and the season runs from June first to the end of September. Only fly fishing is allowed. No trolling, no still fishing, no worms, no bait, no spinning. Fishing licenses for residents and nonresidents are on sale at the camp. If you are wondering how large is a large trout hereabouts, one checked in on June 14, 1946 weighing 5 pounds 6 ounces and now lies in state, suitably embalmed, over the dining room fireplace.

Tadoussac, a few hours ride down the St. Lawrence from the dock at Murray Bay, sits like a doorman at the entrance to the Saguenay, a deep and strange river where cliffs rise like fjord walls 500 feet higher than the Empire State Building, whales come in from the Atlantic, and seals sun themselves like summer tourists on the shoreline rocks.

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