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Private Clubs Join the Big Leagues

The Quebec and Lake St. John Railway paved the way for the establishment of select hunting and fishing clubs in Upper Mauricie by purchasing Lac des Grandes-Iles (since renamed Lac Édouard), an exclusive domain. Starting in 1886, the station began seeing an influx of rich American sportsmen, drawn by the abundance of brook trout weighing up to 10 pounds.

Sepia-toned photo of a group of people on the porch of the private club known as Laurentide House. The women and children are seated, while the men are standing with their fly- fishing rods. All are elegantly attired.

Customers on the porch at Laurentide House, circa 1887-1890

It wasn’t long before private clubs like Laurentide House and the Paradise Fin and Feather Club—which was renamed the Lake Edward Fish and Game Club—built cottages equipped with generators, coolers, motor boats and high-end furnishings. From 1915 to 1945, Indigenous  guides were in high demand to help clients find the best fishing spots.

Black and white photo of a stylish house on the edge of a river. A smaller house on the right is partly hidden behind soaring spruce trees.

The Triton Fish and Game Club Club House, circa 1893

Annie Tremblay, President and General Manager of La Seigneurie du Triton (subtitling available in FR / EN)                                                        View this video with a transcript (EN)

Deep in the forest, the niceties of civilization continued to make inroads. At 4 p.m. tea, the lady of the lake, Mrs. Hoffman, would host the Kruger, Stern, Rockefeller and Ziegfeld families. Their summer homes were something to behold. In the Ziegfeld domain owned by the silent film producer, five cottages with electricity housed butlers, cooks, a massage therapist, a nurse and a personal physician. In the private cottage of Mrs. Ziegfeld (actress Billie Burke), the satin sheets were washed and ironed every day while Mr. Ziegfeld went out to catch bullfrogs whose legs would delight the couple’s guests at dinner. Starting in the 1920s, the Heppenheimers could often be seen driving through the village in the Ford car they had brought in by train from the U.S.

Black and white photo, a group of fishermen in front of the private club on lac Wayagamak, in the background several fish hang from a wooden pole.

St-Maurice Fish and Game Club, circa 1910

But the times continued changing. In the 1960s, governments began issuing leases to better control land use and preserve certain species. Starting in 1977, with the elimination of exclusive rights, private clubs gave way to ZECs (controlled use zones) and outfitting establishments. Today, the territory is home to several splendid operators of the kind, including La Seigneurie du Triton, a veritable institution since 1893. Between the lodge’s walls, you can still feel the presence of Churchill, Roosevelt and Truman, all of whom stayed there last century.