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In 1939, uncertain about the future of Europe and imagining a new life for himself in the New World, the 25-year-old English composer Benjamin Britten set sail for Canada with his friend and partner-to-be, Peter Pears. Britten spent several productive weeks at Gray Rocks Inn in the Laurentian Mountains: he composed his Violin Concerto there, while still in the middle of completing Les Illuminations and probably already contemplating his next piece — Young Apollo, a commission for the CBC.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Britten (available in Canada only).


In a letter dated June 6, 1939, Britten describes Gray Rocks as “a terrific spot. Wild as oats. Mount Tremblante that overshadows us is the Northest point of civilisation before Hudson Bay (about 400 miles away). Most of it is not even detailed on the map. […] We have got a log cabin on the side of the hill — very quiet & indusive to work.” 

Almost 75 years later, CBC Music invited pianist Paul Stewart and documentarian Lindsay Michael (of The Sunday Edition) to spend a day chasing the ghost of Benjamin Britten at his old Canadian haunt. With Britten’s letters from 1939 to guide us, we set out to look for his cabin — and what we found was astounding.

For a closer look inside Gray Rocks Inn, click through the gallery above. (Photo: Scott Tresham/CBC Music)



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Follow Scott Tresham on Twitter: @tresham

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Photos of abandoned Gray Rocks Inn and the curious case of Benjamin Britten

In 1939, uncertain about the future of Europe and imagining a new life for himself in the New World,…

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onlytony
#1 posted by
onlytony
on Nov 15, 2013

as i reverently 

place the drum skin

akin the skin

of being

rejoin rejoyce

reclaim

this skin of time

this sacred trust

Icrepeau
#2 posted by
Icrepeau
on Nov 17, 2013

I visited Gray Rocks at the end of August and was very choked with the state of the site. Gray Rocks was the first ski resort of the Laurentiens. It contributed to the development of tourism and ski. It is part of Quebec inheritage. It is okay to close the site but not to let it die this way. I wrote a poetical text about it on my blog, www.espacedecreation.com (see archive of september, Disparition des pierres grises du Nord).

onlytony
#3 posted by
onlytony
on Nov 17, 2013

merci

Norargh
#4 posted by
Norargh
on Nov 18, 2013

so sad, sigh.

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