From Laurentian Club to Domaine Wabenaki – Andrew
The area of the Domaine Wabenaki – Andrew mentions the rich historic past of the Laurentian Club and of the actual La Mauricie National Park’s territory. Those two buildings, Le Chalet Wabenaki and La Maison Andrew, testify of the prominent presence of the private fishing and hunting clubs in La Mauricie County, one of the most important phenomena in the whole region and even in the entire province of Québec
At the end of the XIXth century, Federal Government granted to each province the fishing rights of their respective inside waters. Thereby, the government hopes to promote the protection of those waters and by the same time of the land nearby. In the Province of Québec, the government is missing the necessary budgetary resources to meet the needs. Therefore the State decides to entrust to individuals the management of some parts of the territory. These disposes of lands were made by renewable leases and, while conserving the territories’ property, the State controlled, regulated and made revenues on each land’s activities. From this moment, many fishing and hunting private clubs have seen day light in the Province of Quebec as it seemed to be an easy and efficient alternative for the land’s management. In La Mauricie County, this concept will be as successful as at one moment, about 23% of the territory will be occupied by those private clubs.
The creation of the fishing and hunting private clubs will have a positive impact for the concerned places. The movement will have helped to protect the natural heritage by controlling the access and by this fact, the fishing and hunting activities. Furthermore, private clubs will have big social and economic impacts in creating jobs for local populations and in producing revenues for locations nearby.
People often talks about William H. Parker like the instigator of the numerous private clubs in La Mauricie County. His presence would have been beneficial for the region in causing important changes.
Mr. Parker came in La Mauricie’s around 1870. This rich American, owner of the Beaver Lumber Company, which was a fruitful American sawmill of the time, moved from Glens Falls N-Y. to Saint-Élie-de-Caxton in La Mauricie County. It appears that Mr. Parker came here because of his health issue. His doctor told him to move in a good and pure air area which would help him fight asthma. He just decided to choose Canada’s fresh air to treat is breathing problems. Eventually, Mr. Parker will create the first fishing and hunting private club, the Winchester Club which will lead to an important movement.
Not to mention that Mr. Parker was very appreciate by the club’s members and employees and by the local population. Between francophone, when they talked about William H. Parker, they used to call him “Huile” (Oil in English). It was easier for them to pronounce his name and it was also funny to call him so.
Now, well installed on Maurician land, M. Parker will begin the procedures to create a first club in La Mauricie County. He was helped a lot by Mr. Louis Alphonse Boyer, a good friend of his, also owner of a sawmill, The Boyer, Hudon et Cie, from Saint-Ursule, always in La Mauricie’s. Both men were enjoying fishing and hunting as they decided to create a private club for which the headquarter would be nothing less than Parker’s house. It is by this strong complicity that the Winchester Club was born in 1880. The club was named as such because the majority of the members came from the American city of this name. Because the club’s organization was well structured, the club will eventually serve as a model and will eventually initiate the creation of other clubs in the following years.
Shortly after Winchester Club’s creation, two important private clubs will be created on the actual La Mauricie National Park’s territory. First, the Shawinigan Club was created in 1883, also established by Mr. Parker and Mr. Boyer. Will later be created the Laurentian Club, in 1886, this time established by some Winchester and Shawinigan Clubs’ members. Moreover, the Laurentian Club will be part of hundred clubs to be created between 1885 and 1899 in the Quebec Province.
By his creation, the Laurentian Club will already have the fishing rights for the lakes that occupies the territory. However, it is in 1901 that the government will sell the land to the Laurentian as a good part of the buildings will be built. At all, 55 buildings were built on site as the main ones were located in the sector of Lac à la Pêche, south side of the territory (This very same area is actually occupied by the present Domaine Wabenaki – Andrew) At this time, the club was 660 kilometres surface into the wild on which there was about a hundred lakes. This large territory was meant to host a lot of members. The Laurentian Club used to be one of the most desired club and welcomed about 300 members per years at his peak.
The two buildings that are still present today are one of the rare to testify the presence of the Laurentian Club in La Mauricie County. Le Chalet Wabenaki, today’s main building, served as member’s kitchen and dining room. La Maison Andrew, the secondary building, was the house on M. Alex Andrew, club’s owner, and his wife. Today, both are buildings in which are accommodate different visitors of de La Mauricie National Park.
The authentic Laurentian Club’s organization will be the owner of the Lac à la Pêche territory and of the buildings until 1952. Thereafter, “La Cité de Shawinigan” (Shawinigan City) will buy the whole lot. Shawinigan City did so to get the population supplied in water from Lac à la Pêche. Still, the sector will served as a private club, but will be named from now on Wabenaki Fish and Game Club. The creation of this club will reduced the Laurentian Club’s surface that will still exist, but only in the northern part as the southern is now Wabenaki’s.
During the years following the Laurentian’s creation, some other clubs will take place on the future La Mauricie National Park’s territory. In chronological order, Commodore, Marcotte, Solitaire, Sawanac, Manigance, Wabenaki, Desaulniers, Paa-Poo, Maréchal, Flanobert, Crabtree, Woco, Jasper and Patients will be the clubs established between 1905 and the 60’s on this territory.
In 1970, all the clubs located on the future La Mauricie National Park territory will give up their land to the Provincial Government. Everything will become official with the park’s creation on June 16th 1977. By then, almost every building that served for the clubs will be destroyed to make the park as natural as possible.
Still, a few of them like Le Chalet Wabenaki et La Maison Andrew, both Laurentian Club’s, will stayed as they will have many utilities before becoming today’s place of hosting. Since winter 1976-1977, the place welcomes many visitors that can stay and enjoy the different sport equipment and the numerous walking trails in La Mauricie National Park.