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A House on the Lake

The further north you go from Hanover, the more frequently lakes mark the landscape, and once you cross the border, things really change. For residents of Montreal, having “a cabin on the lake” is almost a birthright, as evidenced by traffic streaming out of the city on weekends all year long: in the summer to laze by the water; in winter to ski in either the Eastern Townships or the Laurentians. Here’s a typical view from the grounds of the Hovey Manor on Lake Massawippi:

Hovey Manor1.jpg

My parents have had a house for fifty years on Lac Ouimet in the Laurentian Mountains, due north of Montreal. The lake is about a mile and a half long, and as you can see below, there is a body of water every few miles in that part of the world:

Ste. Anne des Lacs.jpg

Addendum: The Hovey Manor website includes a historical tidbit:

Many of the first settlers around North Hatley were United Empire Loyalists [Tories], mostly farmers, who left New England in the years following the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. Several fine farmhouses of this period still exist in the village. Manoir Hovey was named after one of the most noteworthy of these settlers, Colonel Ebenezer Hovey, who was granted a large tract of land by the Crown in 1785, directly across the lake from the inn.

In large measure, however, the village owns most of its great houses and particular architecture to the first summer people — aristocrats, captains of industry and large landowners, mostly Americans from south of the Mason-Dixon Line. For some time after the American Civil War (1861-1865) many wealthy southerners renounced New England (Yankeeland) as a summer holiday destination and continued further north into Canada, some by private railway car. Rumour has it that many drew their blinds in passing through New England.

Addendum: Québecois Denys Arcand’s wonderful movie, The Barbarian Invasions — winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004 — has its final scenes shot next to Lake Memphremagog, not far from Massawippi. The characters repair there for the imminent death of their friend, the film’s main character, Rémy. The lakeside home represents for the entire group a harmony that they did not find in other parts of their lives.


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