PRICE: $49.95 a night, including “down “Maine” breakfast
LOCAL GOSSIP: Yes
If you reach the Canadian border, you’ve gone too far. The Moose River Lodge and Motel is located sixteen miles south of Quebec on Route 201, past the Jackman Trading Post (Gifts, Jokes, Food, Maps) and across the street from B & R’s Moose Mart (LAST GAS IN THE USA). The motto of the Moose River Valley is “if you don’t stop, smile on your way through.”
According to Lodge owners Linda and Francois (Frank), Route 201 was originally a dirt trail that Benedict Arnold used to get to Quebec. Also the Indians.The trail was paved around 1900, bringing settlers to the area. In 1915, a visitor wrote,“I remember the first time I was at Jackman. I attended the first morning of my arrival a wedding, a wedding supper and four fights.”
Besides fighting, Jackman offers many sporty activities. For moose watchers, Linda can provide a map festooned with little red moose heads to indicate where moose may be wandering. When pressed, Linda will admit that the one sure place to see a moose is where they keep the salt for de-icing the roads. In the winter (September to May), ice fisherman can rent Frank’s ice shack and take a snowmobile ride onto Big Wood Pond. Hunters can take down moose, deer, ruffled grouse, woodcock, and coyotes. Armand Pomerleau Park has a bench for lunch by the water, though the spray-painted message NORTH TOWN BOYS HQ might make skittish picnickers choose another milieu. Other outdoor activities include biking, hiking, foliage viewing, rafting, and presumably, draft dodging.
If you ask politely, Frank will take you on a boat ride and point out, in-between puffs of his Garcia Y Vega cigarillo, which house belongs to the oldest resident of Jackman (a ninety-one-year-old woman) and which house belongs to the richest (a lumber baron). After the boat trip, whether or not you catch a fish, he will invite you in for a can of Natural Light or seven. Jackman has a current population of 718, but Frank and Linda’s son plans to go to college in the fall.
Cultural opportunities include drinking Natural Light with Frank and Linda, attending a performance of Charlotte’s Web: A Musical in the Forest Hills Gym, and watching cable TV.
At the Moose River Lodge and Motel, the room décor is “Moosetastic.” Shower curtains, bed spreads, and pillows all feature our antlered friend. Only the little soaps in the bathroom and the gun rack above the bed are not appliquéd with moose. The Motel has six rooms, and the Lodge (a.k.a. Frank and Linda’s house) has four guest rooms and a special “Maine” room, which sleeps six. Behind Frank’s ice fishing shack, there is a hot tub, but it is unclear whether it works or is available for guest use.
Although the Lodge provides “the kind of ‘down Maine’ cooking you have heard travelers talk about,” Jackman also offers Mama Bear’s Den and the Four Seasons Restaurant (not affiliated with the Four Seasons hotel chain). When asked what a “mac-n-cheese bite” was, a waitress at Mama Bear’s answered, “we don’t have them anymore so it doesn’t matter.” Breakfast at the Lodge was delicious: cider sausage, blueberry pancakes that Frank made from scratch, cereal, fruit, and coffee.
The nearest hospital to Jackman is almost two hours away, in Waterville. Thus, Linda does not recommend that very pregnant women visit the area. “There are lots of C-sections around here,” she notes. Guests who fall madly in love with The Moose River Lodge and Motel can buy it. After serving our country in the Special Forces for thirty-six years and running the motel for ten years, Frank is ready to retire and move across the street. It’s a good life. You interested?