It will have escaped no one that the regional siren song has greatly intensified in the ears of urbanites, who are legion to respond to it. Having himself recently taken the plunge, journalist Yvon Laprade set out to meet those who have swapped the arteries of metropolitan areas for the winding paths of towns and villages, taking the opportunity to sound out the political and economic players in the heart of the mechanism. Also, he delivers very valuable recommendations for anyone wishing to construct his Great Escape – title of the new book in which he has recorded his research.

Like monarchs in search of new welcoming lands, many Quebec city dwellers have set sail for the countryside, a migration accelerated by the pandemic situation, suffocating in urban areas. From Estrie to Gaspésie, from Mauricie to Côte-Nord via the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Yvon Laprade has traveled the crossroads of the province to reach out to those who have made the choice. to settle far from nocturnal neon lights and concrete areas. The great escape thus invites us to discover about twenty migrants, from ordinary mortals, like this couple who left to settle in Longue-Rive, a thousand leagues from their cradle of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, but also personalities who married a small corner of the country, like Richard Séguin. Others, from even more distant horizons, from Provence or China, tell why they chose an extra-urbis Quebec home.

The band also discusses the challenges of the regions to polish their power of attraction, the initiatives of municipalities and local organizations, the dynamism of young artists and entrepreneurs, and an inventory of the real estate market dissected by brokers. Meshed together, the personal stories and the questions of the mutation of the regions form an informative and documented whole, while keeping a human dimension.

Through his regional encounters characterized by a wide diversity, from the baker to the biologist, did he perceive a common denominator in those he interviewed? “Most people I spoke to were spontaneously saying that they wanted to explore something new in their lives. Some saw in it a potential for the development of their ideas. Also, young families can find a property at a lower cost than in Montreal, with land, space and a quality of life,” says Yvon Laprade, brandishing the example of the young couple living in Longue- Rive, on the North Shore, passionate about the outdoors, assuming distance from his surroundings; or that of a former civil servant from Gatineau who took advantage of a breakup to set sail for the Magdalen Islands.

As a pure product of the Montreal terroir, raised in the shade of the bricks of the industrial Southwest, Yvon Laprade was able to experience setting up in the region himself in 2019… and the challenges of such an approach, at the time to seek residence in Saint-Élie-de-Caxton. “We’ve been through several adventures, you don’t always understand the codes of life. And the renovations, the small mechanisms, the question of drinking water, I was a bit like a neophyte on these questions, I learned a lot, ”he says. An apprenticeship of which he shares the fruits according to his work, disseminating precious advice intended for those who cherish the same project, from social integration in this new environment to the question of financing through that of the internet connection.

Even if he admits not having a crystal ball on his desk, the journalist foresees that this movement, not to mention a mass exodus, is not about to subside in the coming years, especially in view of the growing number of young candidates ready to plant their flag in the regions. “Regions appear less of a remote barrier for many young people. We are not fleeing the city, it is just that the regions seem closer to Montreal than before, there is a better understanding of the issues, means of communication, telework. For some, it’s a big playground,” he concludes.

We asked the author the trio of advice he would give to a candidate who would like to settle in the region. Many others are to be collected in his book.

“You have to take the time to get informed and find out if the region where you want to live is really suitable for you, avoiding buying a house on a whim. When you leave Montreal for the countryside, everything is white, everything is beautiful, there is no traffic, it’s magic. But you have to be careful not to let yourself be influenced by a house on the edge of a lake without thinking, considering the environment, and wondering why you want to go there. »

“It sounds trivial, but you often have a property appraised for the building, but you really have to check the state of the sanitary facilities, the issue of septic tanks and artesian wells, because that can lead to significant expenses. »

“If you live on the Plateau or in Hochelaga, you take the metro, the bike, you walk… in the countryside, it absolutely takes a car, sometimes two, and even if there are fewer traffic jams, we move often and you have to estimate how long it will take to get from point A to point B. To access some services, it can take 20, 30, 40 minutes…”