Portrait of the park - Parc national d'Opemican - National Parks - Sépaq

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Portrait of the park

History of Parc national d'Opémican

The process of creating a national park in Témiscamingue began in 2002. At that time, regional organizations wanted Parc régional d’Opémican to become a national park, but it did not meet criteria. The parks department of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs considered including a larger area. In 2005, the first plans were drawn up for the future boundaries of the park, giving it an area of 304 km2.

In 2007, 238 km2 of the area were granted the temporary status of future biodiversity reserve. From then on, industrial activities such as logging, mining, and hydroelectric development were prohibited.

Between 2008 and 2011, inventories were taken to characterize the biophysical and human components of the territory. The results were recorded in the document, Status of Knowledge for the Parc national d’Opémican Project.

Parallel to studies done in the field, a work group made up of representatives from the Regional County Municipality (RCM) of Témiscamingue, aboriginal communities, mayors of the municipalities involved, regional interest groups (tourism, economy, environment) and representatives of the MDDEP had discussions and suggested improvements to the park project. As a result, in 2009 the territory of the future park was enlarged to 341 km2.

In 2012, the interim management plan was presented to the public. These consultations helped with the development of a report that was presented to the MDDEP.

Finally, on December 19, 2013, the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs announced the official creation of Parc national d’Opémican, with an area of 252.5 km2. The park is expected to open to visitors in 2019.


THE PARK’S NATURAL HERITAGE

The natural region of the Southern Laurentians is now made up of the remains of a heavily eroded mountain range. Several faults shape the landscape, the most obvious being that of Lac Témiscamingue. The deeply folded cliffs overlooking this lake reflect many past movements of the earth’s crust.

Surface deposits left when the glacier (inlandsis wisconsinien) thawed about 10,000 years ago are mainly composed of heterogeneous materials: sand, gravel, stone and boulders. The Harricana moraine, which crosses the territory, was also formed when the glacier thawed. It is one of the largest glaciofluvial complexes in North America.

The park landscape is characterized by a plateau of flat-topped hills strewn with deep troughs and rugged cliffs. There are more than fifty bodies of water.

Flowing for nearly 16 km, Rivière Kipawa is one of the biggest rivers on the territory. It has many rapids, a
19-metre-high waterfall and a total vertical drop of 90 metres. The flow of the river is controlled by a dam at the outlet of Lac Kipawa, formed in 1911 after two dams were built to control the waters of the Ottawa River.

Lac Témiscamingue, wedged between steep cliffs up to 70 metres high, is actually an enlargement of the Ottawa River. The border between Québec and Ontario cuts through the middle of this river. Abundant red and white pines are a distinctive and unique feature of Parc national d’Opémican. No other park in the network protects so many of these trees. They thrive on rocky escarpments, such as those along Lac Témiscamingue. Since the protected area is in the transition zone between deciduous and mixed boreal forest, the diversity of vascular plants is significant, including about a dozen plant species likely to be designated threatened or vulnerable.

The wide variety of habitats also means that the park is home to a surprising biodiversity of wildlife. Over a third of Québec vertebrate fauna can be observed here. Among these species is the Peregrine Falcon, designated of special concern. Several nesting sites have been confirmed on the territory since 2005.


THE PARK’S CULTURAL HERITAGE

Aboriginal presence in the region dates back to at least 6500 years ago with the Témiscamingues nation, composed of groups of individuals living around the area’s lakes. In the 17th century, commercial ties strengthened between the Amerindians and the Europeans, who were interested in furs. In 1679, different companies began setting up trading posts in the area, including one on an island in Lac Témiscamingue.

In the 19th century, timber merchants started using the land for logging. Felled trees were gathered on the edges of the rivers until spring, when the log drive took place. Over time, logging intensified and the site had to be developed and transformed to meet the needs of managers and workers. In 1888, the first log driving camp was built.

Buildings reflecting the past are still found in the park, such as Auberge Jodoin, the home of the superintendent, the machine shop and forge, the boom shed, the garage and the carpentry workshop.

Did you know?

The Park in Numbers

Year established: 2013
Area: 252,5 km2


Lists of Species

(in French only)

Amphibians and reptiles (part of the Statut Report)

Mammals (part of the Statut Report)

Birds (part of the Statut Report)


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