The city of La Mabaie is a popular tourist destination in the Charlevoix region. Located on the shores of the St. Lawrence, the city includes five communities: Cap-D’Aigle, Pointe-au-Pic, Riviere-Malbaie, Sainte-Agnes, and Saint-Fidele with total population of about 10 000 people.
The city owes its name to Samuel de Champlain, who, in 1608, anchored his ship for a night here but was unable to leave the next morning because the bay had run dry at low tide. He had to wait for the tide to come back in before the ship could set sail. Upset, he exclaimed: “Ah! La malle baie! (Ah, the bad bay)”.
La Malbaie is a birthplace of the Canadian resort industry. It welcomed its first tourists in the beginning of the 19th century. With its magnificent landscape, lakes, rivers, and deep forests, this territory attracted the elite of North America’s society. Wealthy people from New York, Montreal, Toronto, and Boston used to come here in quest of a distraction. Murray Bay (the ancient name of La Malbaie, used by English settlers in the past) was one of the most prestigious holiday destinations. Many affluent visitors built summer residences on the Chemin des Falaises, among them William Howard Taft, future President of the United States, who adored the region. He once remarked that “the air in Murray Bay is as intoxicating as champagne, yet without the hangover”.
Stately homes still grace the city. Some of them remain private estates, and others were converted into charming inns for those seeking peace, nice landscapes, and gourmet cuisine of Quebec. Golf, fishing, tennis, horseback riding, and croquet are the most popular summer pursuits. Swimming in the salt waters of the St Lawrence gulf, famous for their healing powers, and basking in the sun will appease tired city folks.
Riviere-Malbaie area is located between La Malbaie, Clermont and Cap-a-l'Aigle, on either side of the Malbaie River and on the road 138 and Chemin de la Vallée (the Valley Road). Northeast of the river, a road leads to Mont Grand-Fonds, a family ski area that's the perfect complement to neighbouring le Massif. Known among other things for its deep natural snow coverage, Mont Grand-Fonds is also a great place for a number of other winter activities.
Sainte-Agnès is located about 14 km downtown La Malbaie, via the 138 road and a secondary road. Founded in 1839, this former municipality was known as the triple belfried parish, since it also encompassed Notre-Dame-des-Monts and Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs. It lies in a glen about 450 meters above sea level. The church, built in 1844, was classified as an historical monument in 1960, and its interior was the set for television series Le Temps d'une paix (Time for a peace).
Cap-a-l'Aigle is located only 5 km downtown La Malbaie via Route 138. This picturesque community made up mostly of crop and livestock farmers was once part of the Mount Murray seigneury and has preserved its 19th Century resort charm. The lilacs adorning its streets in summer have earned it the nickname Lilac Village. The Anglican community that once summered here had the small St-Peter-on-the-Rock Church built in 1872. The hospitality industry has grown considerably since then, and it now welcomes visitors year-round.
In the heart of Cap-a-l'Aigle, Les Jardins du Cap à l'Aigle opened in 2003. This garden features a collection of hundreds of varieties of lilac and some twenty flowerbeds. Just outside the village, Les Jardins aux Quatre Vents, is one of the largest private gardens in Canada.
Anyone in search of serenity and fresh air will be entranced by the area. Hikers can enjoy a stroll in the Casgrain Park with its splendid riverside views. The local Murray Bay Golf Club, one of Canada’s oldest golf courses, invites golf aficionados and spectators. A tiny Protestant church, built in 1867, adorns one of the city’s streets, Boulevard de Comporte.
The Ecological Centre of Port-au-Saumon conducts tours of the grounds by appointment.