Murdochville, the powder paradise
December 15, 2020 / By nicolas
Credit : Jean-Philippe Nadeau-Langevin
“When the mine closed, the town practically closed too, there was a big exodus, says Mylaine Robichaud, who’s been working at the Chic-Chac youth hostel in Murdochville for the last 4 years. There was a ski resort that was operated by the city and they wanted to close it down, but Guillaume Molaison (Chic-Chac’s PDG) said, “Well, no, there’s too much snow, we can’t do that” and he bought the resort through the hostel!” At its peak, in the mid-70s, Murdochville had a population of 5,000, nearly half of which worked for Gaspé Copper Mines. Today, Murdochville has a population of less than 700… and most of them have settled there to exploit a material other than copper. People are now converging to Murdoch for its snow. “You come here and it’s like a big family, a gang of snowbums who just want to go out and play in the snow, says Mylaine.” “The feeling of being in Murdochville with the gang is a little bit like when you arrive at a youth hostel and you spend 24-48 hours with a group of people and they become your best buddies, you build a connection like you’ve known them for 10 years.”
The demographics of the area have changed significantly and the average age has decreased considerably. The houses for sale, for a pittance, find takers very quickly. There is a real white gold rush in Murdochville. “What’s fun now is that the people buy houses, we’re maybe fifteen people who live here all year round just because we were enjoying the vibe. The people is here to stay. A friend of mine bought his house 7 years ago for 7000$…”
House prices are still derisory in Murdochville, but things are starting to change. Entrepreneurship is growing and Mylaine is currently working on a project for a rental house and a café. More and more people are converging to this small municipality located one hour from Gaspé and two hours from the Baie des Chaleurs. “It’s like a big canvas here. It’s not like when you arrive in Whistler or Montreal and you want to open a business, forget it,” says Mylaine.” “Here, if you have a project, all you have to do is talk about it and work on it and it will be done. I have friends who have just opened a winter camping initiation and guiding business called Le Couloir. We’re about to buy another house, a kind of slum that we’re going to transform into a rental house.” A few hundred meters away, lovers of snow sports are spoilt for choice since the city is surrounded by mountains. The best known are Mont Porphyre and Mont Miller, but connoisseurs allow themselves to explore even more. The region is now known for its backcountry. Mont Miller is still served by t-bars, but for the rest, you have to be ready and organized. From her window, Mylaine can see all the mountains… “You leave the house with your skins (sealskin, a strip of fabric glued to the sole of the ski so that it only slides in one direction, allowing you to go up a slope*), and you arrive at the Porphyre or Copper, and there you go!”
It all makes you dream, admit it. The JACKALOPE team will go and live the experience this winter in the company of Mylaine and her crew. We are preparing an exclusive episode on the joys of the backcountry in Eastern Quebec. If you don’t want to miss anything follow us on Instagram.