Silence of the Huskies
I just returned from a very pleasant, mostly silent weekend retreat at the Abbaye de Rougemont (www.abbayederougemont.org,) a Cistercian monastery set among the apple orchards just south and east of Montreal.
These Cistercian monks, who follow the Rule of St. Benedict and still observe most of the canonical hours of the Church, raise apples in addition to running a modern, simple guest house. They also follow the rule of silence, and request that guests do the same except for certain approved activities such as meetings. Meals are generally silent, which seems a little weird at first. The huskies in the title above refers to a family of eight dogs who roam and guard the orchards.
Rooms are very clean and reasonably comfortable, and the price is definitely right. A single room with shared bath costs $50 Canadian (about $40 U.S.) per night, while a room with private bath goes for $60 Canadian a night, and the rate includes three meals a day served in a basement cafeteria. The food is homestyle and tasty, with a lot of emphasis on apple products including the delicious juice made on the premises.
In fall, guests are welcome to pick their own apples from among the many varieties found in the orchard. Hotel visitors have the run of the property except for those areas specifically reserved for monks. There is a spacious lounge-library with easy chairs. Most books are in French, but there are also some in English. Don't look for best-sellers, though, since the emphasis is on spiritual works.
The grounds are spacious with many different varieties of trees, walking paths through the woods and two frog ponds. I enjoyed wandering through the gardens and relaxing, and found to my surprise that I did not miss having a TV or radio in my room. Wifi is available in the cafeteria.
If you are looking for a real break from the rat race and happen to be near Montreal, I would highly recommend the Abbaye de Rougemont, which is open year-round. As with most monasteries that accept guests, people of any or no faith are welcome.