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Hotel Lac Carling's Story

Lac Carlin, also known as Carling Lake, lies just northwest of Pine Hill, Quebec, within the serene embrace of the lower Laurentians. Today, it stands as the site of an elegant golf course and hotel—a refined resort destination that has woven modern luxury into its natural surroundings.

However, to fully appreciate the journey of Carling Lake, we must travel back in time to the year 1835. Imagine a family embarking on a perilous voyage to Canada, seeking a new life. James Carlin, accompanied by his wife Mary Doherty, his elderly mother Margaret Shannon, and their 2 young children, Terrance and Catherine, had just arrived in Carillon, Quebec. They were part of the wave of Irish immigrants who sought refuge from the cholera epidemic that ravaged Ireland in 1832-1833. Their journey led them from County Mayo, Ireland, to Canada, where they purchased a 200-acre lot in Grenville Township, sight unseen. Armed with determination and little else, their mission was to carve out a livelihood from the Canadian wilderness, 25 miles through the forest from their starting point.

 

 

Their first task was constructing a log cabin. By 1851, 16 years later, they had cleared 50 acres of land along the western edge of Lac Carlin. Of these, seven were cultivated, providing a modest yield of oats, potatoes, turnips, and hay. Their livestock included cows, horses, sheep, and a pig. In addition to butter and pork, they produced woollen and flannel cloth from the wool sheared from their sheep. Over the years, their family expanded to include 7 children.

Today, James Carlin is believed to rest alongside his wife Mary in the Montfort Catholic Cemetery, west of Morin Heights, Quebec.

Their son Terrance Carlin (1832-1908) moved to a farm near Mulgrave, northeast of Buckingham, Quebec, in 1860, where his descendants continue to reside. Their youngest son, Thomas Carlin (1849-1912), carried on the family tradition at Lac Carlin, managing the farm until the early 1900s.

Fast forward to 1984, nearly a century after James Carlin's time. Picture a jet-setting German businessman, Herbert Hillebrand, a man with a larger-than-life persona. Hillebrand's story reads like a modern fairy tale—a tale of wealth, romance, and entrepreneurial success. He was known for being enamored with a choir singer in Bogota, Colombia, to the extent that he brought the entire choir to Germany and wed her in a lavish Cinderella-inspired ceremony. His life was one of opulence, as he acquired an astonishing twenty-seven castles across Europe, earning him the title of "castle king." Each of his 15 children was gifted a castle.

Despite the glamour, Hillebrand's life was not without challenges. Economic downturns led to financial difficulties, forcing him to part with a significant portion of his assets. His story is one of rags to riches, and then back to rags, as he navigated the unpredictable world of business and finance.

Herbert Hillebrand's journey included properties in North America, including the Bahamas, Oregon, and the resort complex at Carling Lake, which he purchased in January 1984. The Carling Lake Golf Club became a public course under his ownership, and in 1992, Hillebrand unveiled the Hotel du Lac Carling, an exquisite 98-room hotel located along the fairway of the first hole. This modern-day castle combined old-world charm with contemporary amenities, inviting guests to enjoy the discreet allure of a fairytale-inspired retreat.

The juxtaposition of the Irish settlers' arduous journey in the 19th century with the subsequent German influence in the Pine Hill area reflects the transformation of a once-untamed wilderness into an enclave of luxury, complete with a hotel, spa, golf club, and cottage community. Today, the Carling Lake Complex bears testimony to the rich tapestry of Laurentian history.

Approximately 8 years ago, Olymbec, the prominent Montreal-based real estate conglomerate, in collaboration with the Pava Corporation, acquired the Lac Carling Hotel in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge. They embarked on a comprehensive renovation project, and the outcome is nothing short of exceptional.

Sources: 

http://laurentian.quebecheritageweb.com/fr/node/1793

https://montrealgazette.com/travel/checking-in-hotel-lac-carling-gets-back-into-swing-of-things

https://www.thesuburban.com/profiles/business_profiles/refurbished-lac-carling-hotel-already-a-hit/article_3369ef2c-162f-11e7-8e44-6381da92a3cf.html

https://qahn.org/article/lac-carlin-then-and-now

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