A luxury lakeside retreat exudes quiet Southern charm, north of the border in Quebec
PERCHED ABOVE LAKE MASSAWIPPI in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, Manoir Hovey was the summer home of Atlantan Henry Atkinson (1862-1939), founder of the electric company that became Georgia Power. He built the Southern-style manor in 1900, with broad verandas and white-pillared porches inspired by George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Atkinson was among many wealthy Americans from the South enchanted by the Anglo-French culture of the Townships and drawn to the village of North Hatley to spend summers and escape the heat. Some of these Southern elite had renounced New England after the Civil War and supposedly shut the blinds of their railcar while passing through “Yankee land” enroute to Canada.
The manor is now a Relais & Châteaux inn, owned by the Stafford family from Quebec for the past 40 years. They have kept the ambiance warm and authentic while incorporating modern amenities. “We want to preserve the unique sense of place—Southern architecture in French Canada,” says Jason Stafford, managing director. “We’ve renovated original buildings such as the ice house, servants’ quarters, and coach house to add rooms.”
All 36 guest rooms and suites are individually appointed in contemporary or classic style. The original stone fireplace and Atkinson’s book collection are featured in the library, along with some of his Early American antiques. Quebec designer John Hay recently refurbished Restaurant Le Hatley, adding an open concept with natural-toned papier-mâché wallpaper reminiscent of the native birch forests.
Casual meals are served in the cozy Tap Room, while Le Hatley offers a true gastronomic experience. Menus feature ingredients from Quebec’s rivers, lakes and fields, enhanced with seasonal flavor profiles such as “tree-to-table” birch syrup and foraged wild mushrooms, herbs and sea plants. The chef describes his cuisine, “an ode to the Quebec and Canadian terroir.” But there’s also a taste of the South, with shrimp and grits served at Sunday Brunch.
A glimpse into the state-of-the-art kitchen shows the meticulous preparation of each plate, artfully presented with floral and herbal accents. For an exceptional sampling, try the eight-course Discovery Menu featuring delicacies such as Quebec Bison, Gaspésian Lobster, and Maple Choux. Wines are paired by the passionate French-born sommelier, who curates an impressive 800-wine collection.
Open year-round, Manoir Hovey offers a variety of recreational activities from paddling, tennis and biking to snowshoeing and ice fishing in winter, as well as yoga, massage therapy and guided excursions to discover the region. It’s also a place for leisure, where Adirondack chairs beckon guests to savor the views and enjoy the exquisite English gardens—in a manner as hospitable as any Southern retreat.