Former Cabane chez Hill becomes Beyond the Maple

TOURISM. After more than four years of inactivity, the former Cabane chez Hill in Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc – briefly renamed Cabane chez Nathalie – will be reborn this fall as part of an ambitious year-round recreational tourism project.

Cynthia Rivard and Luc Mallet, two residents of the Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides sector in Shawinigan, own the company Beyond Maple which, as its name suggests, intends not to limit itself to the production of maple syrup to establish its notoriety.

“We will be open throughout the year, adjusting our offer to the seasons”, explains Cynthia Rivard, who gave up her job at the Commission de la construction du Québec, like her husband, who worked at Arno Construction, to dedicate herself 100% to the success of the project.

For the past few weeks, Luc Mallet has been clearing trails in the forest before starting to lay the pipeline in anticipation of the next sugar season. By spring 2023, the cabin will be able to accommodate customers with more than 2,700 faucets, including 700 in the boiler. In winter, under an agreement with the snowmobile club, Beyond Maple will appear in the snowmobile relay list.

A spruce forest of over 20,000 balsam spruces will be gradually developed, at a rate of 3,300 per year for seven years. “We can pick up our Christmas tree there”, predicts the owner, who has a sentimental attachment to the place her parents frequented at the time of Cabane chez Hill.

Starting next spring, an orchard of 333 apple trees will be placed in front of the hut, again with the aim of introducing autumn U-cropping in a few years. “The nearest orchards are more than 80 km away, in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade and Nicolet. Therefore, there is room for an apple orchard in the region”, says Cynthia Rivard.

The couple intends to establish partnerships with the school La Tortue-des-Bois for the establishment of nature classes, regional tourist partners, local producers for the restoration component, etc.

The site of more than 100 hectares has enormous potential, underline the owners. In the business plan that L’Hebdo was able to consult, it mentions the possibility of installing fences along the trails for small deer and bison farms. These same trails can be used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter or cycling and hiking during the summer. “These are trails that residents are already using and we want it to stay that way. Nature belongs to everyone and this is the objective of our project”, says Cynthia Rivard.

Opening on October 1st and 2nd

Sensitive to the well-being of children, Cynthia Rivard and Luc Mallet chose to officially open the Beyond the Maple booth on Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2, organizing a brunch whose profits will be donated to the lunches of the Club des petits. For every meal sold, $7 will be donated to the cause. Those interested in participating can book now by calling 819 609-1586.

A little of history

Even if it’s mostly the mishaps of its former owner Nathalie Simard that have hogged attention in recent years, the sugar shack at Chemin Saint-Joseph in Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc has a long and rich history. For people of a certain age in Mauritie, Cabane à Hill will always remain, in honor of its first owner, Ernest Hill, who would have enjoyed his first maples somewhere in the 1950s. Daughter Rita Hill and her husband Victor Gélinas who the reputation of the place begins to take shape. They are the ones who started the tradition of meals in the sugar shed in the early 1960s.

In 1989, the institution passed into the hands of Normand Lefebvre, who, however, kept the original name. He kept it for twenty years before selling it to Thierry Vasseur. In the fall of 2014, he completed a transaction with singer Nathalie Simard and her spouse Lévis Guay. The couple will operate the maple grove for four springs, not without making headlines for their difficult relationships with the municipality and unpaid vendors. The former Cabane à Hill was purchased in late 2017 by a numbered Montreal company owned by Vittorio Masciotra, among others. He will simply maintain the property without operating the maple grove. It is with him that Cynthia Rivard and Luc Mallet concluded a transaction at the beginning of the year 2022.

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