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Modification of the catch and keep limit (brook trout) and mandatory catch-and-release (arctic char)

Please note that the Ministère de l'Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec (MELCCFP) is reducing the catch and keep limit from 15 to 10 brook trout for fishing activities. This measure applies as of the 2024 season and is intended to protect brook trout populations. Find out more

Portrait of the park

History of Parc national des Grands-Jardins

In 1890, this game-filled part of the Laurentian massif, frequented before the late 19th century by the Montagnais and the Huron-Wendat, became the renowned La Roche Hunting and Fishing club under the direction of Mr. William Hume Blake. This club was created by a few rich American and Ontarian vacationers who compared the colours and textures of the northern vegetation to the splendor of English gardens. These occupants kept their privilege until 1968.

In 1895, Parc des Laurentides, of which Grands-Jardins was the eastern part, was created, and Thomas Fortin, a coureur des bois from Saint-Urbain, was designated as the first officer representing the government and responsible for delineating the park’s perimeter.

In 1981, the Québec government established its first network of conservation parks, and Parc des Grands-Jardins was granted this status.

In 1988, UNESCO made Parc national des Grands-Jardins the core of the Biosphere Reserve in Charlevoix, thus establishing its international reputation as an element essential to preserving the biodiversity of this exceptional site.

The Park’s Natural Heritage

Parc national des Grands-Jardins is part of the Canadian Shield in the tectonic province of Grenville. It is also included in the natural region of the Laurentian Massif of Northern Québec.

A strange phenomenon hit the Charlevoix region 360 million years ago. A meteorite 2 km in diameter touched down at over 20 km/s, penetrating 5 km below the surface. This crater is now visible from the top of Mont du Lac des Cygnes, a mountain which is itself in the north-west part of the depression, which measures 54 km in diameter.

The park is dotted with shapes related to the last glaciation, a landscape reminiscent of Québec’s Far North. There are forms associated with the progression of the glacier (e.g. the U-shaped valley and the erratic blocks of Gros Bras and Mont du lac des Cygnes) and with the termination of the glacier (e.g. end moraine) and forms related to its withdrawal (terrasse de Kames, Kames, kettles, eskers, etc.).

There are over 120 bodies of water on the park’s territory, most of glacial origin. They represent 3.6% of the park’s total area, or 11.1 km2. The biggest lakes are Lac Carré and Lac Sainte-Anne-du-Nord, each with 70 hectares, followed by Lac Pointu (65 ha), Lac des Castors (47 ha) and Lac Étang Malbaie (42 ha). The two largest watersheds are those of Rivière Malbaie and Rivière Sainte-Anne-du-Nord, two rivers that were used for log driving.

The Laurentian massif has a continental climate, which is colder and wetter than the surrounding regions. Although the massif is mostly swept by southwest winds, cold air masses from the north and west are also common. Air masses that pass over the massif are often trapped there, causing frequent rainfall. However, most of the massif’s high peaks are west of the park, and they create an orographic effect, or a mountain barrier. The park’s climate could therefore be drier than the interior of the massif, which explains a higher frequency of fires.

Certain areas of the park are subject to severe climatic conditions, as shown by studies conducted by the Centre for Northern Studies at Université Laval, which reveal that in certain places, the maximum number of consecutive frost-free days is only 15. This phenomenon is called frost hollows. Harsh weather conditions, poor soils and various disturbances (fire and insect outbreaks) have helped establish a very open canopy, consisting mainly of black spruce. These elements also contributed to establishing several colonies of lichen that tolerate drought and soil acidity, as well as many heather plants, such as sheep-laurel and Labrador tea. Included in the large ecosystem of the boreal forest, the spruce lichen found in the park should only be seen north of the 52nd parallel, or 500 km further north!

The Pied-des-Monts and Mont-du-Lac-des-Cygnes sectors have forests of trembling aspen, white birch and balsam fir, species that have been subject to several disturbances, insect outbreaks, fire, and in the case of Pied-des-Monts, land use by farmers in the early 1900s.

The high peaks of the foothills are characterized by arctic-alpine vegetation and conifers, featuring shapes typical of environments with extreme climatic conditions (prostrate form, candlestick, flag-like, etc.).

Both southern and boreal, the park’s wildlife is diversified. Spruce Grouse, falcon, chickadee, black bear, moose, otter, beaver, lynx, wolf, brook trout and Arctic char are permanent inhabitants of the park. Similarly, several species of amphibians; wood frog, north frog, Northern two-lined salamander, and several small mammals occupy a wide range of habitats found in the park.

The Cultural Heritage of the Park

Parc national des Grands-Jardins was first visited by British vacationers travelling in the Charlevoix area who had come to hunt caribou. When the hunt ended for lack of caribou, fishing became an important activity at Grands-Jardins. The Murray River fishing Club, also called Club La Roche, was one of the largest private clubs in the history of the park.  Old hunting and fishing camps, such as Château-Beaumont, Sainte-Anne, Caribous and Bois-verts all attest to this period, when Thomas Fortin, William Hume-Blake and a large number of families welcomed visitors from afar to enjoy this game-filled land.

A winter road completed in 1850, linking Saint-Urbain to La Baie, provided direct access to the sector by land for the first time. Shelters built along the road served as stopovers for travellers, and sometimes for postal workers, hunters and fishermen. Route 381, which crosses the eastern part of the park, was built on the traces of an old trail that connected Baie-Saint-Paul to La Baie. Today, the “petit parc” road, as it is commonly called, is a link between the Saguenay and Charlevoix regions.

Although forestry activities came to an end with the park’s creation in 1981, there are still traces of them today: regenerating forests, log driving dams, log debris in the riverbeds, and artifacts from old camps that housed lumberjacks and log drivers.

Did you know?

The Park in Numbers

Year established: 1981
Area: 319 km2
Perimeter: 123 km
Annual attendance: 75,000 visit-days

Lists of Species

(in French only)

Amphibians and reptiles

Species at risk



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