On the trail of outdoor adventure

Published on February 20 2024

“My head’s full of projects and I keep having to tell myself, “Calm down, you old clown,” but I love this life!” exclaims Louis Harvey, a spirited man who is very involved in the community, with humour and humility. The man behind Aventure Hélianthe in the Pontiac is a real outdoor enthusiast who finds refuge in the magnificent Davidson forest. Having gone on a day-long winter hike with Louis myself, I can confirm that he is very active and in amazing shape. “Louis, wait up, you’re going too fast!” That’s him! Always ready to take the lead to bring his passion to life. 


Louis wasn’t born in the region, but in Lac Saint-Jean. His love of nature and the Pontiac’s rich biodiversity led him to settle in the Outaouais, after applying for a position with the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs. Mr. Blueberry, who I now affectionately call Mr. Forest, developed a strong feeling of belonging within the Pontiac.   

Exploring over 600,000 km of forest roads through the towering pines of what he calls “Canada’s Amazon Rainforest” does him a world of good.  It’s a well-kept secret, he says, in an equally well-kept corner of the Outaouais. The Pontiac used to be underdeveloped and not well known, according to Louis, who adds that the region had everything it needed to foster love affairs with nature. That’s how he got the idea came to create a social environment, a “local regional hit,” that would become his baby: la Coopérative de solidarité plein air Aventure Hélianthe.  


Louis adores meeting people and showcasing the Pontiac’s crowning jewel. It’s a cooperative approach that will remain just as it is. That is to say, it will remain a spirit of cooperative relationships and a harmonious, sustainable ecotourism development conducive to enhancing his little corner of the world. The scientific name Helianthus comes from the Greek hêlios, meaning “sun,” and anthos, meaning “flower.” Like a sunflower, each petal represents a project that goes in all directions to promote the circular economy, explains Louis.

Several services are available for a magnificent nature expedition, from full one-day to three-day packages, to discover the beauty of the Davidson forest. Louis treats his guests with care and even serves food, which often comes from the delicious Café Downtown at Fort-Coulonge. On our last visit, we had a lovely cup of hot chai, graciously prepared by Louis. In winter, you’ll discover endless snowy trails and scenery that’ll take your breath away. Louis and his sons have even set up a barrel sauna in the middle of the forest, where you can sleep under the stars in a Cree tent by a comforting fire. 

In summer, there’s no shortage of activities: camping at the Pont Blanc beach, axe throwing reminiscent of the days of the log drive, summer packages and the Lazy River Float. Rafts, paddles and shuttles are provided so you can spend a wonderful, carefree day floating on the water. “Aventure Hélianthe is a source of pride,” Louis says. 


“It’s going full tilt!” as Louis would say. He’s involved in various projects, such as the Félix-Gabriel-Marchand bridge illumination, the Phare Ouest organization and the Aventure Hélianthe cooperative, a local group of passionate people who want to develop ecotourism in the Pontiac’s backyard. His passion has been passed down from generation to generation. His twin sons, Guillaume and Oliver, are also very involved and are instigators and active players in eco-camping. His wish: that his achievements carry on over time in the hands of people who will take the natural development of the Pontiac to heart. Thank you for everything, Louis!  


Discover other inspiring profiles on the Ambassadors webpage!  


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