This report was produced in collaboration with the Train de Charlevoix.
If a railway today crosses the breathtaking landscapes linking Quebec and La Malbaie , guiding the Train de Charlevoix and its passengers through them, is thanks to Sir Rodolphe Forget, a Montreal businessman who fell in love with Charlevoix, then settled in Saint-Irénée, at the Domaine named in his honor.
This first millionaire French Canadian spent lavishly and even became a Conservative MP for the region, to build this railway that was so close to his heart, even though his project was very controversial.
It must be said that the construction of a railway in this region cut off from the world and only accessible by boat at the end of the 19th century was quite a challenge. The workers sometimes had to sleep on the site, due to the inaccessibility of the villages.
In addition, the terrain between the river and the mountains did not simplify their task. Over the 144 kilometers linking the Montmorency Falls and the Pointe-au-Pic wharf at the foot of the Manoir Richelieu, 900 culverts and two tunnels were built.
Blows of fate
The first railway section between Quebec and Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré was inaugurated in 1889. Nicknamed the good Sainte-Anne train, this steam train allowed pilgrims to go to the Basilica of Sainte-Anne de Beaupré.
When the funds began to run out to finalize the work, Mr. Forget had to go to Europe to solicit bankers, promising his wife that when he returned, they would go on a cruise. Fortunately, in 1912, just before their vacation, the financial package was wrapped up and the couple was forced to cancel their trip on the Titanic. A favor of fate!
The maiden voyage to Baie-Saint-Paul finally took place in 1918, then the following year the one to La Malbaie was celebrated. This time, fate had a bad trick in store for Mr. Forget, who died in February 1919, at the age of 57, just before the celebrations.
A man of ideas
Having played a role in the evolution of the hydroelectric industry in Montreal and Quebec, as well as in the establishment of a tramway in these two cities, Mr. Forget harbored avant-garde ideas.
< p>By fighting for them, he inspired his daughter Thérèse Casgrain-Forget, who led the battle to give women the right to vote. She would certainly be proud to know that a woman runs the Train de Charlevoix today, the general manager Nancy Belley.
Get on board
As of mid-November, tickets for the next season of the Train de Charlevoix will be on sale, just in time for the holidays. To reserve your seat, find out about timetables and fares, just go to traindecharlevoix.com.
Construction of the railway bridge over the Jean-Noël River in Saint-Irénée in 1919.
The train passes in front of the Hotel Charlevoix in Saint-Irénée, circa 1930.
Sir Rodolphe Forget at his Gil'Mont estate in Saint-Irénée in 1906.
We are waiting at Baie-Saint-Paul station, around 1955.
Blanche McDonald, n.d.
Construction of the railway in Charlevoix, around 1915.
Passengers at on board the first locomotive in 1919.
La Malbaie station during the first maiden voyage, July 1, 1919.
La Malbaie station, around 1930.
Maiden voyage to Baie-Saint-Paul on July 1, 1919.
Train passing over the bridge over the Du Gouffre River in Baie-Saint-Paul, 1920.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128