Canada is not without its ghost towns. Canada had its own "Wild West" gold rush era with the ghost towns that tell the era's tale. But not all of the ghost towns are out West and one of Canada's most famous ghost towns is that of Val-Jalbert in Quebec. The mill on which the village was built around, abruptly closed in 1927 and the village was entirely deserted. It has grown to become one of the main historical attractions in Quebec.

Val-Jalbert is a living ghost town in Quebec and boasts a stunning setting by some of Quebec's most stunning waterfalls. Living ghost towns with costumed actors in the United States include the historic town of Williamsburg in Virginia (part of the Historic Triangle) and the old Wild West boom-town of Bannack in Montana on "Bannack Days" and even for Halloween.

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The Fleeting History Of The Ultra-Modern Town Of Val-Jalbert

Val-Jalbert is located in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Canada's Quebec province.

The story of Val-Jalbert is about as fleeting as any ghost town could hope to have. It was founded in 1901 and rocketed to success by the local pulp mill at the base of the Ouiatchouan Falls.

The founder of the village was Damase Jalbert (1842–1904) who died only 3 years after the village's founding. In 1913 the village was renamed Val-Jalbert in his honor (it was originally called Saint-Georges-de-Ouiatchouan after the river running through it).

  • Founder: Damase Jalbert

The village relied on the pulp and paper mill that was built to meet the ever-growing demand for newspapers in America and in Great Britain. The location was great as the two local waterfalls supply plenty of energy to operate the mill.

The Ouiatchaucan Falls is a major attraction in itself. It falls some 72 meters (236 feet) - that's 20 meters higher than Niagra Falls. The waterfall is one of the main draws for people to come to Val-Jalbert.

  • Ouiatchaouan Falls: 72 meters (236ft)
  • Founded: 1901
  • Closed: The Pulp Mill Closed in 1927

But in 1927 the plant was shut down due to the lower demand for non-transformed mechanical pulp. Many of the workers stuck around for a couple of years hoping to get their old jobs back, but in 1929 the company ordered the houses boarded up. That the time, these company homes were ultra-modern homes. The laborers here enjoyed some of the highest wages in the area.

  • Population: 950 Residents in 1926 and Only 50 Families in 1930

The town was carefully planned and boasted, electric lighting in streets and houses, water and sewer systems, running water in all homes, hydrants for fire-fighting, wooden sidewalks, a paved main street, a hotel, and a convent school.

Related: Rhyolite: A History Of Nevada's Famed Ghost Town

Second Life As A Major Tourist Attraction

In 1949 the company went bankrupt and the Quebec government gained title on the land together with the abandoned village. The Quebec government took the title and closed Val-Jalbert for nonpayment of taxes.

In 1960 it became a park in Canada with over 70 of its original abandoned buildings still remaining. They are in such good condition that it has been described as Canada's best-preserved ghost town.

The ghost town was opened to the public in the 1960s and worked about restoring them. Today is the second most visited tourist attraction in the Lac St-Jean region after the zoo of St-Félicien. It has become a notable and unique tourist attraction in Quebec.

  • Opened: Val-Jalbert First Opened To The Public In The 1960s

The old "company town" has been designated a provincial heritage site in recognition that it has remained virtually intact since 1927.

Over the years, efforts have been made to develop the attraction. Now, not only are there fully restored buildings, an immersive historical show, and actors portraying townsfolk but there are also on-site restaurants and guest rooms as well as a belvedere overlooking the magnificent 72-meter waterfall.

Related: This Indiana Town Is Practically A Ghost Town In The Making

Visiting Val-Jalbert Today

Visitors can see the boom and bust of this town summarized in a multimedia immersive show. The actors play out the story mostly in the convent school, the post office, and the hotel/general store.

  • Number of Buildings: 94 Buildings
  • Actors: There Are Costumed Actors On-Site

Today visitors can see how the mill operated and how the workers and their families lived. The whole place remains frozen in time in a stunningly beautiful natural setting. Much of the machinery and facilities of the mill also remain intact.

There are even trolleybus rides that give visitors an overview of the town after which they can explore around on foot.

Afterward, it is even possible to stay overnight at one of the guestrooms created in period homes on Rue Saint-Georges. All the information about visiting Val-Jalbert and accommodation options are on Val-Jalbert's official website.

  • Admission: Approx $30.00 CAD ($24 USD) Per Adult
  • Summer Season: May 28 to October 9
  • Winter Season: December 4, 2021 to March 27, 2022

Next: You Can Find This Ghost Town In Banff National Park