History of the region
Over 200 years of hospitality
Renowned for its hospitality and landscapes that have enchanted painters, poets, writers, and musicians, the Charlevoix region is where nature and culture exist in perfect harmony.
Covering six thousand square kilometers in the very heart of the Canadian Shield, the oldest rock formation on earth, Charlevoix abounds in one-of-a-kind attractions. From the mountain waters that cascade down the majestic Laurentians into the salty depths of the St. Lawrence River to the charming little mountainside villages that dot the region, this vacationer’s paradise begins where the sea and mountains meet.
Charlevoix owes its spectacular mountain scenery to the earth-shattering impact of a 15-billion-ton meteor 350 million years ago. This collision blasted a crater 56 kilometers in diameter, making Charlevoix one of the largest inhabited craters in the world!
The Charlevoix region is named after the Jesuit priest François-Xavier de Charlevoix, New France’s first historian. Long ago, agriculture, trade, and logging were how people made a living. But little by little, tourism found its niche. Now it is the driving force in the region’s economy.
La Malbaie was the first vacation spot in Canada. Scottish landowners Malcolm Fraser and John Nairn hosted visitors at their manors as early as 1760. Other lodgings gradually sprung up. Boardinghouses and small hotels welcomed visitors seeking fresh air and picturesque scenery.
The region became so popular that at the start of the 20th century, a 350 room hotel was built in the Pointe-au-Pic Secteur of La Malbaie, Le Manoir Richelieu. Visitors arrived in La Malbaie aboard steamships. These luxurious floating palaces ruled the region’s waters, adding a touch of romance and exoticism to the period known as “the golden days of Charlevoix.”
Well-off vacation goers, including William Howard Taft, the future President of the United States, built summer residences on Chemin des Falaises. They adored the region and spoke fondly of the air at Murray Bay, which “intoxicated like champagne, but without the headache of the morning after.”
These impressive villas still line Chemin des Falaises. Some are private properties; others have been converted into charming inns for those who appreciate tranquility, good taste, and fine dining. Over the years, numerous inns and cozy B&Bs perfect for romantic getaways have sprung up throughout the region, continuing the tradition of hospitality that has characterized Charlevoix for over 200 years.