He was irresistible! I never imagined being eye to eye with a Grey Wolf, but Jacob stood close, panting for play and ready to be ruffled. The rendezvous with the largest canine I’d ever encountered unfolded at Ferme 5 Etoile, a farm vacation resort a few hours north of Quebec where I was a guest for a few days (and hosted by Quebec Maritime.)
The farm is less than a half hour drive from Tadoussac, one of the oldest coastal villages in Canada and about 360 miles (581 km) from Quebec City. The three-hour car trip includes a short ferry ride that gives you a sense of what the whalers and sailors of old saw as they navigated the inland waters of the wide Saguenay fjord. Smart boaters scan the passage waters for signs of Beluga and Minke whales who surface there year round.
The top things to do on a farm vacation at Ferme 5 Etoile:
1. Feed the farm animals and collect eggs
Each morning at about 8:30 visitors collect outside a sprawling ‘hen-house.’ Once inside there are pens with goats, bunnies, game birds and pigs squealing for attention and food. Everyone’s invited to help with the feeding. I tried my hand at gathering eggs.They were covered in goo! I’m such a city girl!
2. Make Maple Taffy and enjoy traditional cooking
Of course, Maple syrup is part of every meal at Ferme 5 Etoile. We had maple butter, maple pastries served with ice cream and I learned to spoon a bit of maple sweetness in my coffee but making the national dessert, Maple Taffy, was the most fun. The snow was patchy and melting in early spring but Jimmy Deschenes, son of the owners, gleefully set a tub of crushed ice on the table and started pouring hot syrup onto it expertly. We caught on and were soon pouring our own, then rolling popsicle sticks in the sticky sweetness again and again.
3. Walk pristine trails and fill your lungs with fresh country air
4. Visit with the farm family and staff
Aside from Jimmy, I spied his mother swiftly moving through the reception parlor one morning but I spent the most time with Delphine Broussard, who fell in love with the farm on a visit from her home in Normandie and now leads morning animal tours in spring. Come summer she’ll be a kayaking guide and in winter she takes visitors dog sledding. Her enthusiasm for the farm was contagious and soon we were cuddling bunnies and tickling baby goats.
5. Bring home unique gifts from your farm vacation
As I fell in love with my first experiences with home-harvested maple syrup, it seemed only natural to bring some home to enjoy. The small gift shop in the main house had little bottles in a perfect size for my luggage (not carry-on) and cuddly toys that made me wish my son was a toddler again.
6. Encounter rescued and rehabilitating regional wildlife
In 1979 newlyweds, Claude and Imelda dreamed of moving from the village of Sacré-Coeur to own land and open an inn. They began farming looked for a chance to be closer to local wildlife. The family of five (the 5 Stars of the name) moved onto the original five acres and by 2000 the farm received a special permit for the “observation of wildlife, which also bestows the role of a refuge for wounded or abandoned wildlife found in nature.”
The care the animals get is obvious. The gracious setting is well laid out. Pens are large and the animals were full of spring energy. I got close to magnificent deer, petted bunnies, stared back at a fierce owl and bobcats but the most excitement centered around meeting the wolves. After visiting the hen house, Daphnie led us to a conference room to outline the procedure and have us sign release forms. She spoke about how the wolves came to the farm and answered questions, then instructed us to take off jewelry and anything we didn’t want to get dirty or knocked to the ground. The two wolves, Jacob, the great Grey and Luna, an Arctic beauty, often give hugs!
Hugging a full-sized wolf is good fun but disconcerting. When we entered Luna’s pen we kept our backs to the fence. She jumped and licked us, nuzzled and snorted as we ruffled her thick coat. It was clear she enjoyed human company. Next door we visited with Jacob. He was majestic, standing high on long legs with a huge head. I loved digging my fingers into his coat and crouched to look at his face. His nose grazed my neck as I pushed deeper into the fur around his neck and a moment later he moved over to inspect another human. What a wonderful encounter.
7. Support a family business and help preserve a traditional way of life
The farm organizes encounters and activities year-round from horseback rides, Quad bikes excursions, kayaking and much more. Plans are underway to increase the corrals and extend the farm. It’s a lot to manage and juggle. While farms have been struggling to survive and winter is a long-term tenant, it was a treat to be part of a family working hard to run everything, create jobs, and make a farm vacation available for city slickers, families, and friends.
Before leaving we followed the sun to a coastal park a few minutes from the farm. As I stood at the inlet park of Anse-De-Roche a pair of ATV riders tackled a nearby snowdrift. I watched a shrinking ice drift bob close to the dock and a pair of men sat facing the bay talking about the weather at a table near the Gazebo. Walking up to a picnic table, I joined my travel buddies as they opened up a bottle of Quebec wine. We toasted to the beauty of Saguenay Fjord and our good fortune to enjoy a farm vacation at Ferme 5 Etoiles.
Plan your farm vacation
- Visit the Ferme 5 Etoiles Website
- Check weather and other activities in the region here
- Take the Tadoussac–Baie-Sainte-Catherine ferry across the channel. Schedule and fees are here.
Many thanks to Quebec Maritime and the 2018 Women in Travel Summit for making these experiences possible.
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Oooh this is the kind of holiday I know I need with my daughter. For one, the fun stuff will make the fear of animals go away. (She sure needs to get over it). For other, I love cuddling these animals – bunnies, dogs etc. This gives me ample opportunities for that. You pictures totally made me go awww…. Lovely read
I hope you get to kindle that animal love in your daughter. You lead by example, I’m sure.
What a wonderful adventure you had in Northern Quebec. Being so close to nature and enjoying all the animals sounds like a wonderful vacation to me.
It was such an antidote to our usual crazy schedules. Nature is so nourishing. I hope you get to experience that too.
Farm vacations are the best! It looks like Ferme 5 Etoiles in Northern Quebec is a true gem! Thx for sharing your adventure with us, Elaine.
It was such a wonderful part of Canada to visit!
I’ve heard of farm stays, but this is the first time I have read, in detail, about them. What a great experience you had in Northern Quebec! From collecting eggs to snuggling with the animals, it all looks like so much fun! Thank you for sharing!!
Thank you, Marilyn. I was so honored to have the experience.
I love Quebec–great for families, adventurers, everyone. Thanks for the post.
I need to spend more time in that part of the world.
I have American family that lives in Rimouski on the Gaspe Peninsula. That is absolutely beautiful country. Your post is really making me miss it. I would love to do a farm vacation!
It’s a beautiful part of the world. How fortunate to have family there. I hope you return soon and get to visit a farm.
What a fantastic place to bring children of all ages. It looked beautiful and the maple everything sounds delicious!
Thanks, Nicole. The kids (under 12) who were at the barnyard feeding were in a state of wonder. Great trip!
After reading your post, we are super convinced for a farm vacation. We would love walking these trails and spend some quality time. We are surprised seeing such a friendly wolf. The maple pastries would be yummy. You seem to had a great experience in Northern Quebec.
Thanks, Suruchi, I had a magical time. So much beauty! Hope you take a farm vacation one day
OMG that bunny is the cutest thing ever! What a lovely way to get closer to animals on your holiday, and get involved with a family business. I am a huge foodie so would love to get involved with the maple taffy, and sample some Quebec wine while I was there too!
There was so much great food and drink to enjoy!
Oh, I’m envious! I love farms and I love animals, especially wolves!
It’s not bubble blowing but a cool way to get close to wildlife. There are other wildlife rescue places around the world I hope to visit as well.
Quebec and Quebec City really stood out for me when we RVed around Canada. To think I didn’t even have this experience of a farm vacation at Ferme 5 Etoiles! Making the maple taffy sounds like loads of fun. The fresh country air always does me good, too. And the animals and the scenery!
So cool that you RV’d around this part of Canada. This farm is a bit off the beaten path and you could always return!
As an animal lover, this would be a dream trip for me! A hug from a wolf would definitely be a highlight!
Thanks, Lois. It was a highlight of my time in Canada. I love being around wildlife.
I had no idea this existed!! What a fun addition to your WITS trip. I suppose from Toronto this isn’t too far away, so I’ll have to visit one day. I also LOVE that photo of the caribou(?), it is incredible.
It was a real honor to join this part of my WITS experience. Glad you liked the photo. They were beautiful deer.
I am smitten from the first picture with Jacob! I didn’t know that we can get that close with wolf (even played with them)! I’ve always wanted to experience a farm stay and Ferme 5 Etoile seems like a place I would enjoy wholeheartedly. Thanks so much for sharing the beautiful experience 🙂
Thanks, Debbzie, Getting that close to such a potentially fierce and wild animal was very special. Glad you enjoyed the post.
Oh, Luna, the artic wolf reminded me of my dog, who is a Siberian Samoyed. So much similarity and sweetness !
A someone who was raised up on a farm, I can say that true relaxation and inspiration I can only find in the nature, countrysides and villages.
That’s why I give my thumbs up to your post and promoting rural tourism !
How wonderful to have grown up close to the earth and animals. So many of us are hard-scaped urban dwellers. It made being close to the wolves and barnyard animals all the more special. Rural Tourism, yeah!
This seems like a great option for a family getaway. Canada is really far off, but this reminds me I should plan a farm stay here in India, my 7-year old daughter will love the experience with the animals.
Kids and animals are natural companions. I hope you do visit a farm with your family one day.
Oh my gosh, cuddling a wolf?! I would visit for that alone. Jacob and Luna are so beautiful, and to be able to interact with them must’ve been so special! I love the diverse range of activities at Ferme 5 Etoiles – it sounds like a great place for the family.
It’s definitely a special place for kids of all ages. I loved getting close to all the animals.
We have wanted to visit Quebec for a long time but we never really thought we could stay at a farm. What a great idea! I love that you can also help with the animals at the farm and that they are working to rehabilitate regional wildlife, how amazing that you got to cuddle wolves!
Quite an adventure for certain. I loved the entire region. There’s so much natural beauty in Quebec.
This must have been a wonderful experience. I visited Quebec City, but never made it to this part of Quebec. I think Claude and Imelda did a great job opening this farm where they rescue and rehabilitate wildlife. That encounter with Luna, the arctic wolf, is something that I envy you for. I would have loved to be hugged by that domesticated animal.
Pretty special as was the city but I so loved being on a working farm for a bit. The wolves were amazing.
This actually sounds really exciting! I never really thought about a farm vacation. Until I read your post, it made me think about it, and it seems like a lifetime experience. Maybe personally for me, it is because I personally love wildlife and want to check out how harvesting is like. Since you said you’re a city girl, have you ever thought of doing this before? What makes you decided to try this out? And how did these wolves came to the farm?! So precious.
Thanks, Stacey. This was part of a press trip I attended just before the Women In Travel Summit or I would never have discovered the farm. I’d love to return during a warmer season to take advantage of the many other activities that they make available but it was also quieter in the early spring. The wolves were born in captivity to parents who were rescued. They can’t be released to the wild but have great lives and the company of compatible Huskies.
This would be my dream! I love spending time with animals. Having some in depth time on a farm would be such a great experience. Thanks for sharing. #WeekendWanderlust
Thank you for stopping by. It was truly amazing.
This looks like a great extended family vacation idea – kayaking and quad biking for the older kids and lots of animal time for the little ones. This city slicker would love to be able to collect eggs for breakfast – not sure about the maple syrup though, lol I am really not a fan
You’d love the berries and fresh, traditional foods cooked on the farm. Definitely a something-for-everyone kind of place.
What a lovely experience of a farm vacation. Living in the chaos of cities, this kind of an experience is much needed for people like us. I can what a wonderful experience you had communing with nature on the farm. The best part for me was the interaction with the animals. That was something really amazing. I never knew that grey wolves are so lovable. They are so cute and friendly and break the myth and image of wolves that one has.
I can relate to the need to connect with nature after being in the city. It made this experience so very special and deep. Getting close to the wolves was a surprise. They were so playful and gorgeous. I’ve heard them in the wild and wouldn’t want to run into a wild pack but these two have company and are well cared for.
Quebec looks like a wonder and these reasons you’ve listed are more than enough for me to try and do a farm vacation! I love your photos too and it’s a really great immersion experience.
Quebec province – at least the section I visited – was just gorgeous. It’s also a big vacation destination in the warmer months. Glad you liked the pictures – I love taking them. Truly a trip of a lifetime.
This looks very cool. We went on a farm vacation in Vermont when our kids were small and it was wonderful. I’d love to do it again.
What lucky kids! I wish I’d done that when I was growing up. Making up for lost time now though!
I love farm experience and I think this farm is just amazing. I went to a farm in Taiwan before but it looks much smaller than the one you went. I tried some animal feeding and goat milk squeezing, but nothing compared to yours!
You milked goats, Chloe! That would be something to experience. I hope to include farm visits in my future travels and would love to see even a small one in Taiwan. Thanks for the comment.