Portrait of the park - Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville - National Parks - Sépaq

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Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville

Partial opening

This establishment is partially open. Certain health and safety measures to combat COVID-19 (coronavirus) have been put in place to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers.

Consult the list of activities and services offered

IMPORTANT! Only those who purchased their daily access rights in advance online or who hold an annual card can access the park. Please note, however, that access to a sector, a trail or an activity could unfortunately be refused if a parking lot is full, or if the maximum capacity established in order to respect social distancing is reached. Arrive early!

New public health measures: establishments in "red" zones

This establishment is located in one of the regions designated as "red". Please refer to the additional public health regulations now in place.

Portrait of the park

History of Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville

  • 1967: The construction of bridge-tunnel Louis-Hippolyte-LaFontaine made the islands accessible by land, and also encouraged housing development projects.
  • 1968: Île Charron was purchase by a man who already owned four adjacent islands. He planned on building 30,000 homes there.
  • 1968-1974: Through the surge of speculation, organizations and citizens joined forces and came up with the idea of a protected green space near the city.
  • In 1972, a project to recover the islands, “A River, A Park”, offered new hope for their future.
  • Around 1974: The protection movement intensified. The Québec government, under pressure from increasingly concerned citizens, acquired Sainte-Marguerite, Saint-Jean, Saint-Pierre, Pinard, Commune, Raisins and Grosbois islands to protect them and develop recreational spaces.
  • Spring 1981: Île Sainte-Marguerite was opened to the public.
  • September 12, 1984: The official creation of Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville.

The Park’s Natural Heritage

Geology and Geomorphology

About 100,000 years ago, great glaciers covered almost all of North America.  A flood followed this glaciation, covering a large part of southern Québec in ocean water. As soon as the glacier started to melt, the water gradually returned to the oceans and sea level gradually rose. About 12,500 B.P., the salt water of the Atlantic ocean flooded the St. Lawrence lowlands, forming one arm of the Champlain Sea. The Champlain Sea was progressively replaced by lacustrine conditions around 9,800 B.P. The drainage system of the St. Lawrence Valley was definitively established after this mass of fresh water narrowed in around 7,000 B.P. Created by this water action, the islands are composed of marine clay that was deposited on the bottom of the Champlain Sea.

The St. Lawrence River

A river of many faces, in certain places a combination of narrow passages and steep banks produces impressive rapids. Elsewhere, the river enlarges to create huge bodies of water. Between the Boucherville islands, the river separates into many channels. The St. Lawrence is ranked 13th for its flow (7,300 m3 /s), 15th for the area of its watershed (1.2 million km2 ) and 19th for its length (1,500 km).

Flora

The park has more than 450 plant species and rubs shoulders with terrestrial, aquatic and semi-aquatic ecosystems. Uncultivated fields predominate, except along strips of shoreline where willows, poplars, dogwoods and sumac grow beside the channels.

There are also some wooded areas, the largest of which is Boisé Grosbois, which consists of ash and silver maple. This woodland is has been confirmed as a refuge for threatened or vulnerable species, an exceptional category for forest ecosystems.

But the islands are also the kingdom of freshwater wetlands. These consist of a sequence of vegetation areas visible from the shore. Emergent plants, which can tolerate having “wet feet”, live in shallow areas. Away from the shore, the deeper areas are colonized by floating plant species and submerged species.

Wildlife

The combination of terrestrial, aquatic and semi-aquatic environments makes the park a place of great diversity in terms of wildlife. There are about 45 fish species, 7 amphibian species, 6 reptile species, nearly 20 mammal species (white-tailed deer, red fox, American mink, meadow vole, beaver, common muskrat, etc.), and over 240 bird species. For most of these species, the park is a rare oasis of greenery in an urban area, a place where they can live and breed in peace. In this highly urbanized zone, the park is thus a very important reservoir of animal resources.

Species at Risk

Six plant species at risk live in the park. Among them are the green dragon, designated threatened, and the bloodroot, designated vulnerable. Made up of close to 5,000 plants, the park’s green dragon population is the third largest in Québec and the only one located in a protected area. Other species are the narrow-leaved springbeauty, the sand violet, the rough-water horehound, and the butternut tree. They are all likely to be designated threatened or vulnerable.

Among all the animals in the park, one species is legally designated vulnerable, the map turtle, while 4 species are likely to be designated as threatened: the brown snake, the water snake, and 2 bird species, the Least Bittern and the Sedge Wren. The status of the snapping turtle is of “special concern” in Canada.


The Cultural Heritage of the Park

Amerindian Occupation

Archeological digs conducted in the park indicate that Îles de Boucherville hosted Amerindian populations from the ancient Middle Woodland Period (400 years BCE to 500 CE), until about 1600 AD. The St. Lawrence Iroquois used this site as a seasonal camp for harvesting a variety of animal and plant resources, abundant in this world of channels, spawning grounds, and forests.

Île Grosbois is a unique archaeological site for Québec heritage because it was frequented continuously by various regional groups between 400 BCE and the 20th century.

The First Europeans

The islands were named Percées by the first colonists, who found them beautiful and very convenient for habitation. Jean Talon conceded them to Pierre Boucher, and in 1667 he moved into his seigneurie, the Seigneurie des Iles Percées. Saint-Pierre, Pinard, and Commune islands were then used for cattle grazing. The seigneurie quickly became a model agricultural centre.

John Molson and Steamships

At the beginning of the 19th century, Mr. John Molson (1763-1836), the famous Montréal brewer and business man, acquired Île Sainte Marguerite (formerly called Molson Island) to build a vacation home.

He decided to equip his company with a transport system using steamships to more effectively control product distribution.

Later, Molson used the Îles de Boucherville channels for running his outdated steamers aground. Archeological investigations by the Comité d'histoire et d'archéologie subaquatique du Québec uncovered the wreck of Lady Sherbrooke, suggesting that Îles de Boucherville could be a major cemetery for the world’s old steamers.

The King Edward Amusement Park

In the early 20th century, part of the archipelago developed a new recreational vocation, while Île Grosbois became home to the King Edward Amusement Park. A hippodrome, roller coasters, carrousels and other rides attracted crowds in the summer.

A Place for Farming and Vacationing

For many years, Îles de Boucherville served for pasturing, growing forage crops, hunting and fishing. In the 1940s, about sixty families occupied small cottages on Charron and Sainte-Marguerite islands in the summer.

Did you know?

The Park in Numbers

Year established: 1984
Area: 8 km2
Perimeter: 15,8 km
Annual attendance: 295,000 visit-days


Lists of Species

(in French only)

Amphibians and reptiles

Species at risk

Mammals

Birds


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