The Charlevoix train: a relic of the past
In response to Bertrand Dion’s “Train de Charlevoix: the forgotten holiday” point of view, published on July 27
J have read with great interest the text of Bertrand Dion on the important history that the Charlevoix railway has been in the past. Although I agree with him on the historical facts, I certainly do not share his conclusions, particularly with regard to the conversion of the railway line into a bicycle path.
In the past, the railroad was synonymous with progress and industrial development, but those days are a long way off. Very few industries remain in the region and the exploitation of forests here is only a vague memory. Finish the days of Menaud and the drive on the river Malbaie. Now the region lives to the rhythm of tourism. Does the Charlevoix train and its small number of passengers contribute to this reality? Not really.
Let’s take the example of the Petit Train du Nord, another Quebec railway vestige. Converted in 1996 to a bike path linking Laval to Mont-Laurier, this conversion greatly helped the rebirth of some villages. Since then, hundreds of thousands of cyclists, runners and walkers have traveled along sections of the linear park. Villages were revitalized by the opening of cafes, restaurants and shops along the 230 km route.
Imagine now that the rails along the St. Lawrence from Quebec to La Malbaie are converted into a bike path. This course would be spectacular and attract visitors from all over the world. I am convinced that in five years, the number of visitors using this course would exceed 200,000 annually. This trip would be the envy of all of Quebec, or even Canada. It would be unique in North America.
All villages would benefit from the manna. Cyclists would make stops in the villages, from Cap-Tourmente to Pointe-au-Pic, through Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, Baie-Saint-Paul, Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive and Saint-Irénée . This tourist flow would persist throughout the year, as winter could be used for winter sports, even if it was used as a snowmobile trail.
Pseudo-ecologist hysteria? No, it’s a current vision of Quebec society. Tourists do not just want to see beautiful landscapes sitting in a vehicle, they want to move. They want to be active. This also applies to families. A bike path linking Quebec to La Malbaie is the only logical, economically viable and regional development vector. Unfortunately, our local representatives seem to share your point of view, Mr. Dion, and continue to fund this unprofitable project, a memory of a bygone era.
Although it is sad to see the disappearance of the works of our history, it is better to see them metamorphose than to see them die slowly and no longer serve any purpose.