Haileybury is a historical town on the shores of Lake Temiskaming. It is also home to Les Suites des Presidents, a collection of expertly restored historical homes that pay tribute to the regions’ past and present. Owners Nicole and Jocelyn are history buffs, art collectors, foodies and adventurists who have turned their collective business smarts and customer love into a burgeoning tourist destination. On two separate missions, I head north to learn firsthand what all the chatter is about.
Hitting the Jackpot at Les Suites
Les Suites des Presidents is a four season destination resort featuring six beautifully restored historical homes—one of which sits on the town’s original Millionaire’s Row—and a private island set up for glamping and culinary tourism. Whether you are a history buff, a Group of Seven fan, a style & décor connoisseur, or outdoor enthusiast, you’ve hit the jackpot when you visit Les Suites. This applies if you’re flying solo, planning a family getaway or a romantic retreat, or even a corporate or large-group affair.
Our hosts and proprietors, Nicole and Jocelyn, could also be called property barons with an eye for detail, hearts of gold, and the energy of an army. They’re putting their retirement years and savings into an award-winning experiential destination. The more I got to know them, the more I discovered their passionate quest to build a travel economy in Temiskaming Shores. This area is where I’m from, and I feel privileged and proud to be able to share their story.
Nicole and Jocelyn’s goal is to preserve and share the natural and historical landscape, and to recite the rich mining and lumber baron history from an era long ago. Les Suites can accommodate travellers for a single night’s rest or longer stays, using one of the properties as a vacation home. These historical homes have won awards for their detailed restoration and décor. This alone is a reason to visit!
One such home is the Prospector’s House, built after The Great Fire of 1922. Prospector’s House highlights information on 30 prospectors who discovered the area and later went on to discover great deposits of gold, silver, and minerals in Canada. We stayed in another home, the Lumber Barons’ House. This let us see firsthand the incredible detail in the baroque style drapery, the oversized soaker tubs, the luxurious bronze faucets, and brilliant original wood floors and wall boards. Caution: the floors creak but this only adds to the ambience.
Dressing for Success
Historical evenings are offered by Les Suites as part of group stays, or to complete a team building experience – something I got to experience firsthand. Our soiree and historical evening took place at the nearby Haileybury Golf Club, which boasts a veranda with a panoramic view of Lake Temiskaming. This is where we traveled back in time to 1912, with the stage set to begin upon our arrival. Now I should check my facts, but am pretty confident in declaring that Les Suites des Presidents is the only corporate meetings venue in Canada that offers period costumes and time travel role playing. IT WAS THE BEST!
Costumes and characters were pre-determined by one of our hosts, Nicole. On arrival, we each received an outline of our character and a fictitious wad of cash to later use for briberies. The adventure began with a tribute to Emma Albini Lajeunesse (the Celine Dion of that era) by a local impersonator. Emma is said to have been a guest at the Cobalt Opera House. Her performance quickly set the tone, along with a few canapés and spirits. I marvelled at how quickly the group took to transforming into their roles with ghastly accents, whit, charm, and devious acts of bribery to advance their greed.
Nicole has a wardrobe collection of fur stoles, broaches and pearls, gala gowns and tailored suits, Texan barrel hats and French clutches, all kept secured and preserved in the costume room at the Lumber Baron’s House. This is just one example of how detail orientated and devout the couple has become to the Canadian natural resources and art history sectors.
Ladies of the night, lumber barons, and myself playing the role of Leslie MacFarland (author of the popular Hardy Boys series) were all in attendance. We were real life characters. I never would have imagined the fun to be had. I seriously recommend this for groups of all shapes and sizes.
Woman on a Gastro-Mission
Once again with hubby in tow, I visited Haileybury in July, this time as a gastro-mission food blogger. There’s a feeling of coastal living in Haileybury, with its fresh air and crystal waters stretching as far as the eye can see. We hiked the steep sidewalks and acted like tourists admiring the stone block court house, imagining the lives led by the early settlers. In the morning, the tastiest part of the mission was delivered in a basket by one of our hosts sporting an ear-to-ear smile.
Minutes down the road in New Liskeard, there are a few culinary options for licensed restaurants, but consider staying put and dining in. Les Suites offers home-made frozen meal options made with local ingredients. So far they’ve delivered some exceptional meals in collaboration with locally minded restaurants and caterers to create signature specialities like artisanal bread with local flour, garden salads and other healthy fare. Nicole and Jocelyn are even developing culinary adventure programs.
In complement to new culinary programs, glamping offered by Les Suites is set to start next year. Nicole and Jocelyn have installed the first of five tents on Farr Island, with the location featuring a tent-style dining pavilion, a tree top tent, an ice box and new wood stove. This will tie into a new culinary experience the couple plans to offer visitors: a pick-your-own produce session at a nearby Mennonite farm, followed by a trip to Farr Island via pontoon boat for the canning of your harvest.
To sum it up, if you’re looking for a unique destination with culture, arts, great food and recreation, Les Suites des Presidents is the spot for you!