The Chic-Chac is a company specialized in adventure tourism, including guided off-trail skiing with motorized lifts. Its activities operate mainly in Murdochville, a small village located in the heart of the Gaspé Peninsula and the Chic-Choc mountain range. The Chic-Chac offers different products throughout every season: Guided off-trail skiing (motorized tracked vehicle, helicopter, T-bar at Mont-Miller and sealskin lift), mountain biking, rafting, fishing, lodging and restaurants.
The Chic-Chac operates year-round, offering a complete range of activities adapted to each season. In Spring, the Chic-Chac offers a rafting experience on the Madeleine and York Rivers. In Summer, camping, canoeing, kayaking, fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking and motocross are a few examples of the activities offered. The Centre de Plein Air du Lac York, located 8km from Murdochville, offers cottage rentals in the center of the Gaspé Peninsula and near the three national parks (Gaspésie, Forillon and Rocher-Percé). In Fall, hunting is added to their wide list of activities.
It all began in 2008 when Guillaume Molaison and Éloïse Bourdon started their association by offering lodging and food services in the heart of Murdochville. The company was incorporated on November 17, 2011, under the name Chic-Chac inc., according to the Business Corporations Act and the Civil Code of Quebec.
Chic-Chac added mountain guiding activities to its lodging and restaurant services.
In order to meet the needs of its clientele and in accordance with the company’s financial capacities, a motorized lift service is put in place by hiring two driver-guides and renting two snowmobiles. The increased demand for lodging motivates the acquisition of a new building.
The company’s structure is consolidated by the acquisition of five snowmobiles. The implementation of a unique tourism product in Eastern North America, which includes a developed ski area, is growing rapidly. The hiring of an innkeeper improves the quality of customer service, particularly improving the reservation system.
The Chic-Chac optimizes the number of ski expeditions and improves customer comfort by purchasing a Cat-ski that can carry up to 12 people at a time. The hiring of a chief weather guide ensures maximum safety in regards to avalanche risks. Avalanche safety courses are now offered. Mont York benefits from significant improvements, including the addition of platforms to simulate natural cliffs. The steep terrain of Mont York will now allow skiers and snowboarders to push their limits with new jumps. In addition, new cliffs are now accessible and ready to be renamed by the first to jump them! Mont Porphyre has also undergone a clean-up in its family sector to ensure the safest possible skiing conditions. The Chic-Chac is also involved in the organization of an off-trail ski festival, in partnership with the Le Yéti boutique, the Mont Miller Ski Club and the COOP Accès Chic-Chocs, of which the company has been a member since 2007.
With the arrival of two shareholders and the support of Investissement Québec, a major development is made at Mont York to increase the number of trails and thus offer an exclusive large-scale terrain.
With the arrival of new shareholders, Chic-Chac is able to enhance its ski services by purchasing another tracked vehicle (Cat-ski) which allows 12 more clients to ski the trails of Mont York. In addition, the ski area is expanded. A new mountain next to Mont York with a more vertical drop and an interesting terrain is in its first development stage: Mount Bell. Later, the acquisition of the presbytery consolidates the acquired accommodations for clients. At the end of the season, a new activity to extend operations is added: Rafting on the York River.
The Chic-Chac purchases a townhouse to increase lodging possibilities throughout the year. Also, a garage is built on the land adjoining the presbytery inn to store and maintain tracked vehicles and snowmobiles. In the summer, the emphasis is put on developing a mountain bike trail on Mont York. Mountain biking is a great complement to off-trail skiing as the sport is gaining in popularity.
The year 2016 is a big development year for the Chic-Chac. The ski area is expanded in order to optimize the offer to customers. In November, the Chic-Chac acquires the Mont Miller Ski Resort with a bar on the chalet’s second floor. The ski resort increases its clientele and allows families and beginners to discover powder skiing in a controlled area. Meals are now centralized at the ski resort, allowing more people to be served and the bar to be operated. The presbytery is renovated to provide a warm, rustic chalet-like atmosphere. With its revitalization, guests can enjoy a lounge with a fireplace when they return from skiing all day. At the end of the winter season, the creation of a 2-discipline snowmobile event attracts many snowmobilers. Named the Murdoch Masters, the event extends the season with accommodations and meals for participants. In the summer, the Chic-Chac develops another mountain bike trail for a total of 13 km, as well as acquires the municipal outdoor base.
The Chic-Chac centralizes all its activities at Mont Miller, including client arrivals, Cat-ski departures, meal service and many others. Operations are more functional and more customer-friendly. A new reception area and infirmary are installed in the first modular unit and a new room for guides and equipment rental in the second modular unit. The station’s main building undergoes an exterior revitalization and an expansion of the kitchens. In addition, a duplex on 6th Street is purchased to increase lodging accommodations. The head ski guide ensures and maintains the service quality and safety on the mountain, notably by training and accompanying guides at the beginning of the season. The Chic-Chac also develops two new trails on Mont York and widens other trails to increase the skiable area. A motorized groomer is also purchased for the Mont Miller Ski Center.
2018 has its share of novelties. First, new business partnerships allow the development of new modules on Mont York. Cleaning was carried out on Mont York and Porphyry to keep the ski areas clear. A new groomer is purchased for Mont Miller. A new free ride youth day camp is set up for Spring break. The Chic-Chac is able to host various regional gathering events, increasing our professional clientele. Finally, integrated software was implemented for reservation and invoicing.
The Chic-Chac focuses on improving the number of accommodations. A new house is acquired with a “ski-in/ski-out” position at the Mont Miller resort. The latter is completely refurbished. A new trail is developed on Mont York. Mont Porphyre is cleaned up thanks to a new business relationship with the Fédération Québécoise de montagne et Escalade (FQME). An industrial coffee machine is installed on Mont Miller, enabling us to offer a new service of varied coffee beverages, still rare in the Gaspé region. A partnership is created with a French travel agency dedicated to the organization of off-trail skiing trips “Planète Freeride”, which helps us gain international recognition. France’s first group of adventurers came at the end of January 2020. 2020 is also affected by the international Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the difficulties, the Chic-Chac is able to focus on the positive and move forward with our projects. The entire Chic-Chac team is now embarking on the ambitious project of transforming the Murdochville Church into our operations headquarters, notably the meal and bar service as well as the designated gathering spot for guided activities.
In 1921, the Miller brothers discovered copper ore in the bed of the York River brought them to Mont Copper. This discovery was the beginning of a great story for a small town. The small town of Murdochville, one of the youngest communities in the Gaspé Peninsula, owes its existence to the creation of the mine and smelter that was created following the discovery of the copper deposit.
In 1938, Noranda Mines became interested in the copper deposit in the Needle and Copper Mountains. The mining company estimated the mineral at 19.6 million tons, eventually acquiring the concession belonging to the Miller brothers. Following the impacts of the Second World War, the mine’s activities finally resume in the early 1950s. In 1953, the workers’ camp officially became Murdochville, in honour of James Y. Murdoch, one of the town’s founders, owner of the mine and first president of Noranda Mines. In 1955, the mine produced its first copper ore, marking the official start of operations at Mont Needle. The Mont Copper open-pit mine officially began operations in 1968.
A major strike marking Quebec’s history occurred in 1957 and lasted more than 7 months. The strike had a national impact, particularly influencing the recognition of union rights in the province. Despite further strikes, the mine continued to expand and the town reached a population of 5,000 during the 1970s. Following the collapse of copper prices and the depletion of resources, the open-pit mine closed in 1999 and the “Gaspé de Noranda” smelter closed in the spring of 2002, causing a large decline in the town’s population with the exodus of workers who had lost their jobs. Despite a referendum to abolish the town, the town was able to revive its economy thanks to wind energy and tourism. A call center of the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec was also opened in 2003, creating much-needed jobs. However, the local population dropped drastically after the mine closed, now with a population of nearly 700 inhabitants.
The Chic-Chac is now an important economic engine for the region given its important role in recreational tourism and off-trail skiing. By generating a tourist influence and an increase in land value, Chic-Chac plays a leading role in regional winter tourism. By promoting tourism in a town that many people believe has disappeared, Chic-Chac plays an important role in the town of Murdochville, local businesses and its residents. Like a small Gallic village, Murdochville is populated by proud and strong Murdochvillois!