Visiting North Hatley With a Dog – Quebec, Canada
Known as “Jewel of the Townships”, North Hatley reveals itself in a most majestic way as you drive down a hill. The road twists and turns, and between the thick trees framing the view ahead, you glimpse the clear blue lake shimmering under the sun, flanked by old Victorian style homes in the distance.
Located at the northern most tip of Lake Massawippi (go ahead and giggle; we certainly did!), North Hatley was founded in 1897 by English settlers. The charm of the place is obvious the moment you arrive and you understand immediately what attracted rich American tourists and why they pushed for the construction of a railway line in 1880 to make it more accessible and thus, an American holiday destination of choice in the early 20th century.
Note: Although located in Quebec, North Hatley, and most of the Eastern Townships, are Anglophone. It is somewhat of an anomaly in the French stronghold of the province of Quebec.
Thanks to its growing fame and railway line, North Hatley received (and still does) over 2000 visitors a year. An impressive number for an otherwise sleepy town whose population counts 724. Still in existence today are the original six hotels and 250 luxurious, century-old residences that have been converted into charming inns or bed and breakfasts to house tourists. The only pet friendly accomodation we found was Manoir Hovey, a lovely place to spend time relaxing and enjoying amazing food.
Other buildings boast art galleries (including one of the most famous galleries of naïve art in Canada – Gallery Jeannine Blais), artist studio’s, shops, cafés and restaurants, all of them bewitching and offering up a variety of products and produce. A favourite for the bipeds was the old fashioned candies and fudge! YUMM!
As for dog friendliness, most of the galleries and shops were happy to let me enter as long as I was in someone’s arms or in my sling and not on the floor… even on leash. When we inquired, we found out that big dogs (and strollers for those of you that must use them) would not be allowed in and would be made to wait outside. We did not spot any dog bowls on our visit, so it is important to remember to bring your own canine water supply. *sigh*
But once again, I digress…
The lake gives the village a natural amphitheater shape, protected by a 1986 declaration that designated part of the village as an official heritage site; it boasts a lovely wood pier jutting out into the water and ending in a gazebo where you can watch people come and go in their little fishing boats, kayaks and canoes. The pier seems to be the local landmark and the residents take pride in its upkeep. Flowers adorn its railings, adding a touch of charming “Victoriana” to the setting. In fact, suspended flowerpots can be found almost everywhere, decorating street lamps, store fronts, fences, front porches and street corners as if in a silent competition with one another for the most “overflowing with blooms” location. It adds a delightful fragrance to the air.
To the right of the pier’s entrance is a little dog friendly beach. I enjoyed some sand digging and exercised my vocal cords barking at the local ducks until reprimanded by the bipeds for being too loud. For enquiring minds, yes it was worth it.
The lakewater is pleasant, clean, not too cold and without waves for those of you who enjoy swimming. It is so clear in fact, that in places you can see the fish swimming below the surface. It is no surprise that one of the biggest hobbies in the area is fishing. We also had fun watching kids jump from high up in the trees (on the water’s edge) into the lake or grabbing ropes and letting go to ungraceful and loud splashes. All I could do was watch in amazement and try to understand why little bipeds would want to do such a thing! Water! *shiver*
” width=”720″ height=”479″ /> am I right? weird eh?[/caption]To the right of the pier is a charming little park, complete with picnic tables, a gazebo and benches along the water’s edge. The park is dog friendly and we must admit that the “scoop the poop” sign found there left us a little puzzled and laughing. We are not certain what they had in mind with the little bucket and trowel… or is it a shovel? We had visions of going on dog walks with a child’s beach bucket and shovel to use as a poop and scooper! Yuck! But the message is clear. So, don’t forget your poop bags and use them, if needed!
Disappointingly, North Hatley does not offer a single place for you to eat with your canine companion. We could not even find a chip wagon! Not one patio offered at least the “as long as the dog is on the outside of the fence” option. When we asked it was made abundantly clear that canines were not welcome even near eateries (service dogs are welcomed on patios). This is unfortunate since for us, a place to eat with your dog is what makes or breaks a town’s dog friendly status. What is the solution? We recommend you bring a picnic or see if you can negotiate some “take away” and eat at the tables in the park.
Note: Enjoy some fish and chips (bring your own Tupperware and take it to go), or hamburgers from the Pilsen Pub right across from the pier. The staff are charming and might be willing to help you out!
If you happen to be in the area at the end of spring, stop in for the Festival du Lac Massawippi (since 1982). Music lovers will enjoy a variety of recitals in Sainte-Elizabeth Church in addition to open-air concerts every Sunday through the summer in Dreamland Park (dog friendly).
In review: Although not particularly dog friendly, picturesque North Hatley is worth the stop. The shops, water and pier are simply lovely to behold. Just perhaps not around meal time.