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Howards’ Deer Lake

deer lake sign

I am returning to posting about our magical trip to Paul and Kim Howard’s vacation home in Canada’s province of Quebec. A couple of days between posts were needed to format and compile all the photos required for the telling of this wonderful history…

In the mid-50’s Paul’s paternal grandfather either won the Deer Lake property in a card game or purchased it… or maybe a little of both… I was never quite clear on that matter.


Deer Lake includes about 600 acres, the crystal clear Deer Lake, cottages, bunkhouses, sheds, garages, a mountain with a shrine on top (a future post will be dedicated to that), and so much more.

When we arrived, we were welcomed by a full rainbow…


… and later in the week – by a baby snapping turtle!

Paul’s father was an only child, so the property was passed down to him. Paul is the third of five children – so now the property belongs to him and his siblings.

coon's house

Deer Lake was won/purchased from a Mr. Coon. When Paul and his family first started coming to Deer Lake, the Coon Cottage was the only residence. That cottage is now gone, all that remains from the structure is a stone fireplace. They call the area where the cottage once sat, The Grove. There is a lovely little creek that runs through it. Under the dock that still juts out into the lake, lives an otter. One day, while Dave and I were exploring the area, Dave saw the otter! Sadly, I did not.

le chateau

In the first couple years, 1956-57, Paul’s family would stay at The Seigniory Club of La Petite-Nation; now known as Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. The Chateau sits on a vast property spanning an area of 65,000 acres, including 70 lakes. We visited the Chateau, which is also called the “Log Castle”. Makes sense, when it was built in 1930, it was the largest log structure in the world. The original three buildings are constructed of more than 10,000 red cedar logs from British Columbia, and 500,000 hand-split cedar shakes for the roof.

I read that The Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming is now the largest log structure in the world. After checking out photos of the Inn, I have to say they are both places I’d love to stay someday.

Lake House

Beginning in about 1958, Paul’s family would stay at Coon Cottage, that is until 1962 when Paul’s grandparents built The Lake House …

boys bunk house

and the Boy’s Bunk House.

Lake house main room

The Lake House has a large living room, and several bedrooms, each with its own bath, a galley kitchen plus a butler’s pantry.

Lake House beavers

Plus a large basement/garage and a few secret places that look dark and musty.

lake house dock

The dock and hammocks are two of the best features of The Lake House. It’s where we spent most of our afternoons. Below, Terry is in the hammock, while Barb, Kim, and Dave are coming up the hill from the dock.



Kim’s first time at Deer Lake was in 1979, prior to her marriage to Paul.


It sounded as if a potential future spouse was to pass muster, they must love Deer Lake as much as the entire Howard family does.

Island House front views

The Island House was built in 1989 by Paul’s parents. It is where we cooked, played backgammon and rummy during the day – then ate our meals and played board games at night.

Island House light

This house has the most wonderful chandelier in the living room, and a large kitchen, also with a butler’s pantry.

island house main room

Plus four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom.

girls bunk house

In 1993, a Doll/Play House was built between the Boy’s Bunk House and the Lake House, for the girls. In 1997, it was converted into The Girl’s Bunk House.

Pauls poem

On the last day, on our way out the door, Paul shared a poem with us that he had written about our trip.

favorite things

I must say, although it is lovely and rhymes so well, he has it off by a bit. The line, “The chefs and their sous” should read, “The four chefs, a sous, and a clean-up crew.”

howard good food

Kim, Barb, and I made a plan to each take a night to cook for the group. Kim took nights one and two. She had a delicious dinner consisting of ratatouille, frittata, and green salad ready for us when we arrived in the minivan that Paul picked us up in from the airport the first night and delicious flank steak on night two.

master baker copy

Paul, a fabulous cook in his own right, had delicious breakfasts for us each morning. He was actually chef #1, in my book!

Not only that, but he loves to bake. He claims it all began here at Deer Lake when he was but a lad. He and his siblings had a rock fort and Paul would make Sand Cakes and decorate his creations with pounded rock in the place of sprinkles and colored sugar.

joy of cooking

On day two, Paul set to work, making four loaves of bread. The recipe – was from a very old edition of the Joy of Cooking, which he cleverly kept open to the correct page with a ripe banana.

He added rolled oats to two of the four loaves, what a treat, homemade bread all week long. Not only did he bake the bread, but he also used slices of it to make perfectly Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches for lunch one sunny afternoon. What a guy! A man of all trades; perfect host, avid biker and runner, long-distance swimmer, fisherman, and fishing teacher (more on that in a future post), and the list goes on.


On night three, I cooked our 4th of July meal and Dave cleaned up. Dave took on the role of dishwasher many a night. I’ve trained him well!

fenzl shrimp taco and crepe

Barb and Terry made shrimp tacos, couscous salad, and green salad on night four. They worked in perfect harmony to create a delicious southwest meal for us. Then to top it off, they served us chocolate crepes with vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberry filling! So Good!

leftover night

On our final night, we pulled out all the leftovers and had a perfect smorgasbord, exactly how every trip to a vacation home should end, with a thorough cleaning out of the refrigerator.

kim and Paul

Deer Lake is one of the most beautiful and serene places I’ve been to. Paul and Kim are natural-born hosts, and Terry, Barb, Dave, and I were the privileged and lucky recipients of their many gifts and talents.

Somehow, I don’t have a photo of them together at Deer Lake, but this is a sweet picture of them together, lighting a candle near the altar of Cathedrale Notre-Dame in Ottawa. Love you two! xoxo

P.S. Oh, and Paul or Kim – if you find discrepancies or errors in the details or timeline of my telling of the Deer Lake story, please correct me by leaving a comment for all to read to set the record straight. 🙂

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1 Rita { 07.11.13 at 9:41 AM }

Sounds amazing.

2 Marissa { 07.11.13 at 5:20 PM }

So beautiful! By the way, that 4th of July spread looks delish!

3 Sloane { 07.12.13 at 5:31 PM }

Looks magical!

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