Historic property divides small Quebec town

When Chantal Crête moved full-time to her cottage in Lac-Simon, a lakeside resort northwest of Montreal where she had summered for more than 30 years, she thought she’d finally get around to reading all the books she never had time for as a busy stay-at-home mother in Gatineau.

But instead of enjoying lazy days and magnificent sunsets from her deck, Crête, 50, a former lecturer in educational psychology at the University of Ottawa, has devoted the last 18 months since moving to Lac-Simon to trying to save a heritage site overlooking the lake, whose pristine waters have attracted generations of summer residents.

The struggle over the Domaine des Pères Ste-Croix — a 48-acre estate that Heritage Canada the National Trust, a charity that raises awareness of historic places, identified in July as one of the country’s 10 top endangered heritage sites — is a saga complete with shadowy investors, controversial First Nations leaders, former city of Montreal officials and the religious order that owns St-Joseph’s Oratory.

Read Marian Scott's feature in the Montreal Gazette!

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