Portrait of the park - Parc national du Mont-Tremblant - National Parks - Sépaq

Parc national du Mont-Tremblant

Portrait of the park

History of Parc national du Mont-Tremblant

In 1894, a doctor planned to open a sanatorium on Tremblante mountain. The government agreed, and created a “State forest reserve” at the same time. Parc de la Montagne-Tremblante was born, but the sanatorium was never built. When it was created on January 12, 1895, Parc de la Montagne Tremblante was a forest reserve composed mainly of Tremblant Mountain. It covered 60 km2 between Lac Tremblant and Rivière du Diable.

In 1925, the park’s territory increased considerably, going from 60 km2 to 3,108 km2. The era of big forestry companies was in full swing, and some 20 private clubs held the hunting and fishing privileges.

In 1930, pressure groups started demanding the creation of a real park, which, like the American parks, would be dedicated to the conservation of nature. Their wish was granted in 1958 as a result of action taken by scientists established at the Lac-Monroe biological station. That summer, some 6,100 visitors entered the park and stayed at the Lac Chat campground.

Starting in the 1960s, the park met growing demands of a clientele who loved recreational outdoor activities. The forest reserve status remained unchanged however and the forestry companies and private clubs retained their rights.

The adoption of the Parks Act in 1977 was a turning point in the park’s history. From then on, there would be no more hunting or harvesting of resources in this protected area. In 1981, Parc du Mont-Tremblant was established under this Act. Finally, in 2000, the park’s conservation mission was confirmed, as well as its status as a national park.


The Park’s Natural Heritage

Geology and Geomorphology

At an average altitude of 300 m to 400 m, the mountains of the natural region of the southern Laurentians are the remains of a mountain range of about 6,000 m in altitude, formed a billion years ago.

The characteristics of rock types on the territory contribute to the diversity of the landscapes:

  • Basement gneisses and intrusive rocks are generally seen in the landscapes. Mont Tremblant, Mont Carcan and several hills are composed of gneiss. Intrusive rocks often form big cliffs, such as the Vache Noire.
    Basement gneisses and intrusive rocks are generally seen in the landscapes. Mont Tremblant, Mont Carcan and several hills are composed of gneiss. Intrusive rocks often form big cliffs, such as the Vache Noire.
  • “Softer” rocks of sedimentary origin are often found in the landscape’s depressions. They form portions of the valleys and hills in the Assomption sector

Parc national du Mont-Tremblant is a high mountainous unit whose profile is similar to the southern Laurentians. Because of this marked terrain, the park is part of a distinct physiographic unit, which completely dominates the landscape in some places. However, the gradients are usually no higher than in the rest of the area.

Climatology

Parc national du Mont-Tremblant is located in the cold temperate climate zone: cool summers, cold winters, one metre of annual precipitations, and an 80- to 100-day frost-free period.

The terrain causes climatic differences throughout the area. The valleys and parts of the area with slightly higher than average altitudes for the southern Laurentians are representative of the natural region. At lower altitudes, some slopes exposed to the sun or sheltered from prevailing winds benefit from milder microclimates. The rest of the park, including Mont Tremblant and the higher hills, is a sub-zone where the climate is harsher and wetter.

Hydrology

The river system at Parc national du Mont-Tremblant is representative of the region: it covers more than 5% of the territory; its shape is influenced by the territory’s geological structure; the flow of the rivers and lake levels are subject to high seasonal variations. The park has six rivers (Diable, Boulée, Cachée, Petite Cachée, L'Assomption and Lavigne), two adjoining rivers (Jamet and Matawin), some 400 lakes, and a multitude of permanent or intermittent streams.

Vegetation

Parc national du Mont-Tremblant is located in the maple- yellow birch zone, a hardwood area in which an abundance of boreal species like balsam fir and yellow clintonia announce the proximity of boreal forests.

The comparable proportion of boreal species (49 %) and temperate species (46 %) reminds us of the position of the park in the most northerly hardwood forest in Québec, a transition forest area between hardwood forests of the South and coniferous forests of the North.

The park’s forests bear the mark of logging, since it was logged from the late 19th century until the late 1980s. The diversity of the stands reflects how much the forest was disturbed. Logging activities promoted the growth of certain species, such as balsam fir and white birch.

Since logging is still going on in the Laurentians, the park’s forests are rare examples of southern Laurentian forests that are returning to the more climate-typical composition of maple-yellow birch.

Fauna

In both the forest and aquatic environments, the diversity of the wildlife is representative of the diversity of the southern Laurentians region. There are 40 mammal species, 198 bird species, 34 fish species, 14 amphibian species and 7 reptile species.

Species at Risk

Three wildlife species are on the list of vulnerable species:

  • The Bald Eagle is sometimes seen
  • The Golden Eagle is regularly spotted
  • The wood turtle is seen occasionally

One threatened species have been confirmed in the area:

  • The wolverine and the cougar have been observed a few times.

Bicknell’s Thrush and the pickerel frog, species likely to be designated threatened or vulnerable, are limited to a few habitats.

Eight species of threatened or vulnerable vascular plants have been confirmed. The discovery of twin-scraped bladderwort confirmed that all of Québec’s bladder-shaped vascular plants can be found in the national park.


The Cultural Heritage of the Park

Natural resources have always brought people to Parc national du Mont-Tremblant year-round. Throughout history, the trees, wildlife and landscapes have served as commercial, scientific or tourism resources.

Today, the Amerindian legend explaining the origin of the name of “Mont Tremblant” is the most tangible element of an Amerindian past. Small family bands of Weskarini Algonquans probably frequented the territory of Parc national du Mont-Tremblant in the winter to hunt moose and small game and to go ice fishing.

Forestry was the major activity during the time of Parc de la Montagne Tremblante from 1895 to 1961. Although it is not clear exactly when logging first started on the park’s territory, it seems that:

  • In the late 19th century, a cottage-industry type of logging operation logged large-diameter pine and spruce trees to meet timber needs in the United States.
  • In the early 20th century, timber was abandoned in favour of logging fir and spruce for the production of pulp and paper. Forestry activities grew and occupied almost all areas of the park.

Early in the 20th century, private hunting and fishing clubs settled in camps left by the forestry companies, taking advantage of the bounty of game and fish.

Although the first skiers reached the summit of Mont Tremblant in 1916, Herman Smith Johannsen is known for the important role he played in the late 1920s by exploring Vallée de la Diable and Mont Tremblant on skis and developing the first ski trails in the early 1930s.

Joe Ryan, an American, installed the first chairlift in Canada, and in 1939, opened a modern ski centre: the Mont-Tremblant Lodge. Mont-Tremblant quickly became a renowned centre for vacationing, training and competition.

In 1949, the Office of Biology opened a research centre in Lac Monroe, the Biological Station of Mont Tremblant. From 1949 to 1962, between June and September about 20 biologists, chemists, physicists and technicians did basic research on the productivity and development of Québec’s lakes.

Did you know?

The Park in Numbers

Year established: 1895
Area: 1510 km2
Perimeter: 275 km
Annual attendance: 410,000 visit-days


Lists of Species

(in French only)

Amphibians and reptiles

Species at risk

Mammals

Birds


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