Discovering Amos-HarricanaBy Anne-Marie Belzile
I was born in Amos. I grew up in Amos. But until recently, I didn’t really know the area. Often, you hesitate to be a tourist in your own back yard. Too busy, maybe.
Obviously, I knew the Refuge Pageau wildlife refuge. It’s a must. We’d been going there since primary school. I was wild about the baby bears, lynxes, wolves, the little owls and all the other animals. But it was only as an adult that I came to understand the importance of the refuge. The Pageau family takes care of abandoned or injured animals. They give them care and unconditional love. Those that can be are released quickly; others stay, and they try to give them the best quality of life possible. It’s amazing! Michel Pageau isn’t just a legend; the “man who talks with wolves” is for real. He’s got a big heart, and his story is both touching and inspiring.
Now that I’ve moved away, it seems I’m rediscovering my hometown. I come back to visit from time to time. I’ve come to realize that the Cathédrale Sainte-Thérèse d’Avila, which I used to pass without a second glance, is unique in North America. It took vision – and maybe a bit of madness – to build such a grand Romano-Byzantine church back in 1922.
During our centennial in 2014, I discovered that Amos was the cradle of Abitibi. I learned all about our history in a really entertaining way through Productions du Raccourci. Their theatrical historic walk Amos vous raconte son histoire really charmed me. The period characters, stroll through town and over-the-top staging… I was in seventh heaven!
Of course, I always knew we have great water, but I didn’t realize just how lucky I was to swim every day in this blue gold. When I left the region to go to school, I suddenly noticed the water everywhere else had a weird chlorine taste. Having water that is taste-free really is a gift. I found out later that the water in Amos is one of the few in Quebec that doesn’t have to be treated. The secret is the eskers left behind when the glaciers passed. They filter the water naturally. This phenomenon is now clearly explained at the Pavillon d’interprétation de l’Esker. And did you know that the Eska water we see sold everywhere is bottled right here? And now I can celebrate our water every July at H2O le festival.
Without a doubt, my encounter with the Abitibiwinnis in Pikogan had a huge impact on me. I went to school with kids from the community, but I had no idea how rich their culture is. I tell all about my fascinating encounter in the article Mon expérience fascinante avec les Abitibiwinnis.
There are also really cool craftspeople in and around Amos. With care and devotion, they create high-quality products that are exported across Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Québec, as well as elsewhere. Their booming businesses are a real source of pride. Just a few of the talented people who come to mind are the family behind the toasty-warm fur products of Fourrures Grenier in Barraute; Caroline Arbour with her nature-inspired jewellery; Mathieu Gnocchini, from NOC Design, who, among other things, makes handbags that I’m just nuts about. And then there’s David Ouellet and his honey from the Miellerie de la Grande Ourse.
In winter, I’ve discovered the thrill of dog sledding. I met Éric and Annie of Chenil du Chien-Loup, a couple of enthusiasts whose love of Siberian huskies is infectious. There’s something truly exhilarating about mushing!
And I’m sure there are still more wonderful discoveries waiting for me around Amos. See you there!