Out here in Québec we like to do things differently. Like sleeping in strange places. Even the provincial parks authority, SEPAQ, is in on the trend, having installed everything from tipis and igloos to prospector tents and yurts into scenic spots within its woodsy reserves. But wait, there’s more! Throw down a sleeping bag in the underground Laflèche Cave at Val-des-Monts north of Gatineau, or slumber in a 140-year-old working lighthouse at Îles du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie near Rivière du Loup. It’s a great way to have a unique experience while learning about how others lived. And snoozed.
Take the town of Trois-Rivières, for example, where you can be “Sentenced to One Night”. Without acquiring a criminal record, a group of family or friends can make a booking to experience bedding down behind bars in the Old Prison, a jail/museum. Start with a greeting from the prison warden and being shuttled to the bullpen for the “welcoming” rites that include mug shots and fingerprints in this history-laden institution. Then, clad in prison garb, spend a night on a cot with your head full of criminal stories from your former inmate/guide.
When the Onondaga retired after the longest active career of any submarine in the Canadian Navy – 33 years of patrolling Canada’s coastline and taking part in NATO missions – she became the country’s only submarine open to the public. Hoisted onto the shore of the Maritime town of Rimouski on the St. Lawrence River’s south shore, the sub is easily accessible to visitors who want to learn about the vessel’s complex machinery and underwater detection systems while staying aboard for an evening or a night. It’s a unique experience to re-live the daily lives of the 60 men who spent months in the 90-metre-long sub’s cramped quarters.
Or go rural and get in touch with your inner woodpecker in the rural Eastern Townships village of Glen Sutton where you can roost in the trees in cozy treehouses with a view at Au Diable Vert mountain resort. Not far away, in Eastman, a 175-acre forest is home to a dozen ultra-green eco-shelters, each with its own theme, including a funky Hobbit House. There is no electricity at the Entre Cimes et Racines (“between canopy and roots”), just tiny-carbon-footprint communing with nature, peace and quiet and the opportunity for cycling, hiking, snowshoeing.