Lower Laurentian area, Quebec
One hour 45 minutes
One of my favourite drives is through the Lower Laurentian area of western Quebec. It’s got it all—challenging roads full of twists and turns, and spectacular scenery. Without stops, this outing offers 90 km of driving over a 1.5+ hour period. But one of the beauties of this particular route is that it can easily be modified with the many alternate intersecting roads adding variety every time you go out. I drive a 2013 MX‑5 and this region has a vast number of roads that maximize my touring enjoyment. But I have also driven this in my Mazda CX‑5 and it’s just as good.
This circular route starts in Hawkesbury, Ontario. From here, head into Quebec and drive east along the Ottawa River, then go north to Lachute. It’s an excellent place to take a break or get a good meal as the main street is lined with one restaurant after another. (Another tip of mine is to stop at Chocolat L’Éveil du Printemps in Brownsburg when you’re on your way back and pick up a batch of chocolates—delicious.)
The next leg of the journey is where your skills as a driver are really tested. The combination of roads from Lachute to Brownsburg offers approximately 30 km of some of the best driving you can put your car through. You have to constantly be alert to the changing road with its huge sweeping and razor-sharp turns, which can come up pretty fast, as well as elevation changes—some subtle and some drastic.
The best time of year to go is early to mid autumn so you can enjoy the changing colours of the leaves. And in the fall, the road conditions are usually at their best following any repairs done during the summer. But I’d happily visit in the spring or summer, too.
The Trillium Miata Club was founded in 1991 and is the largest organized Miata club in Canada, with over 150 members from all across southern Ontario. We get together monthly and hold driving tours in spring, summer and fall, taking evening drives, day or weekend overnight tours, and week-long trips. Find out more about us here.
THE 92.5 KM ROUTE
Starting from Hawkesbury, cross over the Ottawa River into Quebec on the Long-Sault Bridge. Once in Quebec, turn right onto Route 344 heading east, parallel to the Ottawa River. This is a very scenic, narrow two-lane road with plenty of curves, which eventually opens up for a 7 km run right along the river’s edge. This entire portion of the route allows you to drive unencumbered by traffic lights and stop signs for about 20 km.
Continue on Route 344 through the small town of Carillon to Highway 327, which takes you north to Lachute. Drive through the town via Highway 148/158, then turn onto Chemin de Dunany where the real driving adventure begins.
Turn onto Chemin du Lac Louisa for another 3 km of uninterrupted twists and turns to get to Chemin de Dalesville. Once you’re on that, it’s 9 km to Highway 327, then 2 km to Brownsburg.
Heading out of Brownsburg, you’ll start to make your way back to Hawkesbury by hooking up again with Highway 148 travelling west. Turn south on Monte Vachon, which takes you back to the 344, back to Grenville and the bridge back into Hawkesbury. Google map
Main photo: Brad Walker
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