Lac-Mégantic is a town of 6000 people in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, near the Maine border.
Lac-Mégantic was established in 1884 as a stop on a former Canadian Pacific Railway line which ran from Montréal and Sherbrooke eastward across northern Maine to Saint John, New Brunswick. The region is 98% francophone and relies heavily on tourism from other French-speaking settlements such as Sherbrooke and Quebec City.
A small lakefront town in an isolated location on the Québec-Maine border, Mégantic was built largely on forestry and natural resources. Hunting and fishing have traditionally been popular locally. The region is mountainous and well known for its granite. The town's slogan used to be « de la voie ferrée à la voie lactée », "from the railway to the Milky Way", a reference to a dark sky preserve and observatory based in a nearby provincial park.
Lac-Mégantic had a charming, historic town centre until a runaway crude oil train derailed overnight on 6 July 2013, incinerating much of the historic district and contaminating the rest with enough oil and benzene to require its demolition. The village church, because of its hilltop location, survived - creating a surreal image of a statue of Jesus helplessly watching firefighters from near and far grapple for two days to extinguish an inferno which cremated forty-seven townsfolk alive.
While the rest of the town remained open and functional throughout the lengthy local recovery process, the downtown main street (rue Frontenac) didn't reopen until 2016 - and then only as a collection of open spaces and new construction sites. Many landmarks at the centre of the destruction, such as the Musi-Café and the local library, were rebuilt elsewhere in the town. Veterans Park and the marina eventually re-opened in their original locations. A few businesses, including the l'Eau Berge inn, never returned. A $133-million project to re-route the rail line to bypass the town was announced in 2018.
Visitor information may be obtained by calling +1 819-583-5515 or +1-800-363-5515.
There are no passenger trains through Lac-Mégantic.
One can reach Lac-Mégantic from Sherbrooke (100 km, 60 miles) by taking Québec Route 108 east to the village-relais of Stornaway, then following Route 161 South through Nantes. Route 161 becomes the town's main street. From Quebec City (200 km, 120 miles), take Autoroute 73 to Beauceville, then Route 108 West to Route 161.
- 1 Autocars la Chaudière, 4323, rue Laval G6B 1C1 (Dépanneur du Coin), ☏ +1 819-583-5349, toll-free: +1-800-550-7496, fax: +1 418-228-8097. Operates a bus to Quebec City via Saint-Georges with stops in multiple cities. $41.16/person one-way to Québec.
- 2 Marina Lac-Mégantic, 3535, boulevard Stearns, ☏ +1 819-583-5085. Municipal marina with 115 reserved slips and five spaces for short-term visitors. Fuel, sewage pumpout, boat launch ramp, equipped platform for sailboat mast installation.
The "Mégantic" tourist region is not just the town itself but a wide rural area 50km (30 miles) in radius encompassing a lake, two major provincial parks and a large amount of mountainous terrain. While there are good cycle paths (des pistes cyclables) in the area, this is a lot of ground to cover and an automobile will prove invaluable.
Rue Frontenac (Quebec Route 161) was closed at the edge of downtown but has now re-opened; boulevard Jean-Marie Tardif or rue Papineau are possible bypass routes to cross the Chaudière River.
Cycle trails and bicycle rentals are available at various in-region points, including Frontenac National Park.
- Taxi Mégantic, ☏ +1 819-583-0583.
- A total solar eclipse on Monday 8 April 2024 starts at 3:28PM local time and lasts 3 min 30 sec. The chances of a clear sky are 20%. The track of totality is northeast from Mexico and Texas to Ohio, straddling the Canada–New England border through Lakes Erie and Ontario, then across Maine, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
- 1 Astrolab, Mont-Mégantic National Park. Mountaintop astronomical observatory and Mount Megantic Popular Observatory at the summit of Mont Mégantic, includes access by shuttlebus. Guided tours. Events include the Popular Astronomy Festival, the Perseid Festival (August 10–14) and snowshoe hiking (raquette au flambeaux) in winter. $11-23/person plus park admission.
- Concerts Entre chien et loup. Thursdays at 20:00, summer only. Weekly open-air show featuring local and emerging musical talent. Free.
- 2 Sainte-Agnès Church.
- 3 Maison du Granit, 301, route du Morne, Lac-Drolet G0Y 1C0 (20km north of Lac-Mégantic), ☏ +1 819-549-2566. Summer: daily 09:00-17:00, off-season: Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Museum in former granite quarry site. $10.50/person.
- 4 Moulin Bernier (Bernier Mill), 100, rue du Moulin, Courcelles, ☏ +1 418-483-5646, fax: +1 418-483-3540. May-Oct: W-Su 10:00-17:00. Museum and old mill, conference and exhibition facilities, Internet access, park with former Quebec Central RR caboose and Expo-Train. $5/person.
- 5 Parc de la Croix-Lumineuse, rue Lafontaine, Frontenac. A prime lookout point to view the region from the Rencontre au Sommet (signpost at 500 m altitude); bring your binoculars. Picnic tables. Accessible by motorcar. Free.
- Route des Sommets. 157-km (100-mile) signed tourist route from La Patrie to Stratford through the mountains.
- 1 Centre Sportif Mégantic, 5400, rue Papineau, ☏ +1 819-583-0630. Open skating, swimming and badminton. Arena for 1200 spectators, indoor pool and gym constructed in 2011.
- 2 Cinéma Mégantic, 1977 route 161, Lac-Mégantic G6B 2S1, ☏ +1 819-583-4970, fax: +1 819-583-6789. Two 3-D movie screens, English-language films shown Thursdays. From $5/person.
- 3 Club de golf de Lac-Megantic, 1039 route 161, Lac-Megantic G6B 2S5, ☏ +1 819-583-4810.
- 4 Complexe Baie des Sables, 2370, chemin du Lac, ☏ +1 819-583-3965. Beachfront park on the shore of Lac Mégantic. Cabins, camping, canoeing, kayak and pedal boat rental. Restaurant and bar on-site. Playground, picnic area, docks and boat launch. $9/car, $11/camper.
- 5 Le Vent du Sud, 254, rang des Grenier, Piopolis, ☏ +1 819-583-0202. Equestrian centre. Lessons and one-week summer camp available. $30/person for 45-minute horseback tour.
- 6 Mont Gosford, Woburn, ☏ +1 819-544-9004. Su-F 08:00-16:00, Sa 08:00-18:00 info kiosk. Tallest summit in southern Québec, hiking and cycling trails. Camping $8-24, chalets $82-140. $2.50/person, $9/car.
- 7 Frontenac National Park, 177, route du parc de Frontenac, Saint-Daniel, ☏ +1 418-422-4021. Provincial park with campgrounds, boating, canoeing, snowshoeing, hiking and cycling on the shores of Grand lac Saint-François. Refuges for close to 200 bird species and over 30 mammal species.
- 8 Mont-Mégantic National Park, 189 Route du Parc, Notre-Dame-des-Bois J0B 2E0, ☏ +1 819-888-2941, toll-free: +1 800-665-6527, fax: +1 819-888-2943. Provincial park with two mountains (Saint-Joseph and Mégantic) to climb on foot or by motorcar. ASTROlab astronomical interpretation centre on-site. Open year-round. Hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowshoe hiking, bird and nature watching. Park is 50 km (30 miles) from Lac Mégantic village. park access $6.50/person, campground $27-38/night.
- 9 Théâtre de la première scène, 160 Route 263 South, Marston, ☏ +1 819-582-4158. French-language live summer theatre. $22/person.
- Grand tour du lac Mégantic, ☏ +1 819-583-5515, toll-free: +1-800-363-5515. Annual bicycle tour, early June.
- Traversée internationale du lac Mégantic, ☏ +1 819-583-0007, fax: +1 819-583-5275. Annual swim meet, early August. Competition between swimmers from around the world, entertainment for all ages, shows by renowned artists, fireworks.
- 1 Marché Public (Public Market), 5400, rue Papineau (Centre Sportif). mid-June to end Sept: Sa 09:00-14:00. Public market with opportunity to sample local and regional produce, on sport centre grounds (or indoors in case of rain).
- 2 Aux Jardins Couverts (Fraisières et framboisières Carmen & Gaétan Roy), 1919, route 161, Nantes, ☏ +1 819-583-3498. Pick your own strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in-season. Maple products and organic vegetables.
- 1 Auberge au Soleil Levant, 499, rue Principale, Piopolis, ☏ +1 819-583-5697, toll-free: +1-866-583-5697, fax: +1 819-582-5030. Restaurant, pub and four-room country inn on waterfront, near snowmobile trail.
- 2 La Berge Glacée, 5600, rue Papineau, ☏ +1 819-583-4541. Ice cream dairy bar with patio.
- 3 Restaurant Le Renato, 3423, rue Laval, ☏ +1 819-583-5585.
- 4 Resto-Brasserie le Moulin, 3164, rue Laval, ☏ +1 819-583-0886. M-Sa 06:00-22:00, Su 07:00-21:00. Steak, seafood, Greek and Italian foods, pizza and subs, breakfast.
- 1 Brasserie Laval, 4661, rue Laval, ☏ +1 819-583-2524. Bar with patio, live music some weekends.
- 2 Musi-Café, 5601, rue Papineau, ☏ +1 819-583-4433. Bar with live music, obliterated by the 2013 train derailment with much loss of life; reopened as a Musi-Café.
- 3 Resto-Bar Le Friand, 3280, rue Laval, ☏ +1 819-582-4242. 7 days/week. Restaurant and bar. Breakfast, steak, seafood, pizza, pasta.
- 1 Au Ruisseau Jaseur, 337 Rang des Grenier, Piopolis, ☏ +1 819-583-2494. Cottage rentals on the Lac Mégantic shore in Piopolis. $800/week.
- 2 Auberge et Chalets sur le Lac, 2000, chemin du Motel-sur-le-lac, Frontenac, ☏ +1 819-583-0293, toll-free: +1-800-263-0293, fax: +1 819-582-4011. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Rooms and chalets for rent, refrigerators, boat docks on-site, outdoor pool. Whirlpool bath in some rooms. Additional charge for pets. $95-145/night.
- 3 Le Quiet, 3284 Laval St, ☏ +1 819-583-6666, toll-free: +1-888-778-7018, fax: +1 819-583-4871. Check-in: 14:00-20:00, check-out: 12:00. 47-room hotel/motel, wi-fi, meeting facilities, restaurant adjacent.
- 4 Les Victorines du lac, 1886 Route 161 South, Frontenac G6B 2S1, ☏ +1 819-583-6904, toll-free: +1-866-494-6904, fax: +1 819-583-6906. 17-room country inn with dining room, meeting facilities for up to thirty people. $60-120/night.
The Lac-Mégantic downtown post office has been relocated to 1 Carrefour Lac Mégantic (3560 Laval Street); Main Street post offices in 2 Piopolis (415, rue Principale) and 3 Nantes (1267, rue Principale) remain open. Wi-fi is available at 4 McDonald's on Laval Street.
- 5 Médiathèque municipale Nelly-Arcan, 3700, rue Lemieux, ☏ +1 819-583-0876. M 13:00-17:00, Tu 10:00-17:00, Th 10:00-20:00, F 13:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-16:00. New public library opened May 2014 with Internet, photocopy, computer lab.