Worth a Trip: Le Témis

Le Témis is the name affectionately given to a region concentrated around its main geographical feature, the 40km-long Lac Témiscouata. The sleepy, unexplored area is perfect for a Sunday drive.

Route 185 passes mills and farms cradled between the low-lying hills, giving a foretaste of New Brunswick. St Louis du Ha! Ha! possibly owes its odd name to an archaic French word for something unexpected, or to the exclamation of wonder the area's colonizers uttered upon seeing such beauty. We favor another explanation: the name comes from a 15th-century French expression for 'dead end.'

Moving swiftly on, there are motels in Cabano, and some pleasant restaurants on the waterfront. Fort Ingall is a 1973 reconstruction of an 1839 British fort set up to keep out Americans who had set their sights on the area. The six buildings include the blockhouse with its 'whipping horse.'

The hourly ferry ride between Notre Dame du Lac and St Juste du Lac is a fine summer diversion. If you miss it, there are good views up the slender lake from Rte 185.

On the northeast side of the lake in Auclair, you can taste the country's first alcoholic drinks made from a maple sap base at économusée Domaine Acer. Made on-site, the aperitifs' name comes from acer, the Latin for maple. The gift shop also sells maple jelly, which is delicious on toast. Tours take in the aging cellars and demonstrate how maple sap is turned into syrup. There are English signs throughout the facility and some guides speak a little English.

Le Témis is about a 40-minute drive from Rivière du Loup along Rte 185. Note that there is a protected provincial park on the north shore of the lake, Parc National du Lac-Témiscouata, which has eight trails totaling some 35km of hiking opportunities.