Piastrebaie to Baie-Johan-Beetz: Story of a Community and an Emblematic House
A bay frequented by the Innu for generations, they called it Piashti, which would mean “the dry bay”, “where the water rises” or “the river of color”. Over time, Piashti-Baie became Piastrebaie, probably under the pen of government agents or missionaries.
Since its foundation in 1872 by the couple of Joseph Tanguay (native of Berthier-sur-Mer) and the Métis Innu Marguerite Murdock, the economic activity of the village is based on cod and salmon fishing, seal hunting and fur trapping.
In 1897, a young Belgian aristocrat: Johan Beetz, arrives in the village and marries the granddaughter of Joseph Adéla Tanguay. He adopted the customs of the country, while practicing the breeding of the silver fox of which he fixed the breed.
In 1918, he removed the village from the deadly danger of the Spanish flu by imposing a quarantine. Aware of the benefit of the initiative, the inhabitants ask that the name of the village be now that of Baie-Johan-Beetz, name already given to the post office and often used locally and regionally.
The Beetz family left for Ville-Saint-Laurent in 1922. The villa sold to Americans in 1926, became the summer residence of Mary Fife from 1930 to 1963. A gentle woman, Mary loves people, visits them, provides them with medication, takes care of her employees, organizes a large annual party for parents and children, photographs each family for free, etc. The house is then called: Maison à Madame Fife.
In 1979, the house is classified heritage property, it is renamed Maison Johan-Beetz.
Under the ownership of Mary Fife’s nephews, the private fishing rights to the rivers: Piashti and Petite-Watchichou, were re-established as an outfitter in 1983. When the Americans withdrew in 2000, the Baie-Johan-Beetz Outfitter was sold to the local manager: Marcel Bourque. To meet the demand, visits to the house, begun before the opening of the road, become official in 1997 until 2010 and resume in 2019.
Its presence on the rock, its interior decor, the soul that inhabits it recall one of the best parts of the history of the village!
Emblem of the village, treated with respect and strongly linked to the Bay-Johan life, the Maison Johan-Beetz seduces beyond time and places!
For all, this cultural legacy remains a precious legacy!