The L’Abbé family legacy
BESIDE Habitat is intrinsically motivated by conservation: protecting 80% of all land acquired, and developing a maximum of 20% of its area. Achieving this objective would be impossible without the confidence and support of those who embark on this adventure with us, and become owners of a cabin. This is why we call our members “founders.” Here are the stories of two members of this community of shared values, who make it possible for this project to exist and continue to evolve.
“When the first article about BESIDE appeared in La Presse, their values immediately resonated with us,” say Richard L’Abbé and Chantal Beaulieu. “They spoke of natural conservation and knowledge transfer,” they recall.
The article hit home.
At the beginning of the 2000s, Richard Labbé launched a telecommunications business, which he would devote his next 15 years to, before eventually selling it. The business was registered in a family trust, of which his mother was the beneficiary, though she didn’t know it until the company was sold. Those who have never had it easy find ways to make do with less. The years went by.
One night, during the height of the pandemic, Richard called his mother and asked, straight up: “If you were to let yourself dream, what would you want most?”
At 95 years old, Richard’s mother didn’t quite know how to reply. Nothing jumped to mind, so Richard suggested that he buy her an Ipad. “That way, we can call and see each other,” he explained. She agreed and accepted his offer.
That screen was just the first step to suggesting a much bigger project.
During one of the many Facetime calls that followed, Richard proposed to his mother that she become a co-owner of a BESIDE cabin with Chantal and him: a decision that could benefit their whole family for years to come. Her chin trembled; she was extremely moved. It was beyond anything she could have hoped to leave for her loved ones.
For Richard and Chantal, becoming owners of BESIDE cabins was a way for them to share the success from the sale of their business with those they love. They think of it as a legacy that they’ll leave for their children and grandchildren. It’s a place for each of them to fill with their own memories: for the little ones to swim in untouched lakes, and learn to build a fire and cook outdoors.
“That’s the real gift. Allowing others to enjoy a place that is totally unique in the world. An outdoor space where you can leave everyday worries behind,” says Chantal, smiling.
They’ve mutually agreed that every family member can spend one week per year in the cabin. The first summer, Richard brought his grandchildren into the forest to teach them how to orient themselves with a compass. Chantal enjoyed sleeping in with her mother and her sister. Their two little nieces introduced everyone to stand-up paddleboarding. Her brother Normand played guitar beside the campfire and sang in front of everyone for the first time in his life. “We never knew he could sing!” laughs Chantal.
The rest of the time, the cabin is available to rent for those with a desire to rediscover themselves in nature. “Renting out something that is so dear to us really teaches us to detach from the material aspect and recognize the value of the place itself,” explains Richard. “It’s learning to appreciate the experience, and seeing the stories written in the wear as a testimony to the passing of time and the way things gradually get used and weathered,” adds Chantal.
In a little notebook that Richard and Chantal leave out, visitors can share memories and anecdotes from their stay. “There’s something really satisfying about knowing that we contributed to the happiness of people that we don’t even know, but with whom we now share a place,” concludes Richard.
Does this make you want to become the owner of a BESIDE cabin?