Portrait - Réserve faunique des Laurentides - Wildlife Reserves - Sépaq

Réserve faunique des Laurentides

Portrait

History

The reserve is named after the lofty Laurentian Highlands. Several mountains rise to 1,000 m in altitude.

From Park to Wildlife Reserve

Parc des Laurentides was created in 1895 as a forest reserve and as a recreational area for the public. Its original surface area was 6,480 km2. Later, the park was expanded to 9,663 km2. In 1981, most of its territory (7,861 km2) was made a wildlife reserve in order to protect wildlife by controlling hunting and fishing and to protect the forest from overlogging. Parc de la Jacques-Cartier and Parc des Grands-Jardins were notably established on the rest of the territory.

L'Étape

The highway from Québec City to Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean runs through the centre of the wildlife reserve. It approximately follows the old Jesuit trail of the 17th century and Chemin des Poteaux of the early 20th century. L'Étape is 95 km north of Québec City on the western shore of Lac Jacques-Cartier and is the last remaining roadside stop of its kind on the highway. The first roadside stop was built at this location in 1869. It was only a log cabin with an oven for making bread. Before 1870, the road was poorly suited for driving and often even dangerous. Several shelters had been built along the way, 12 to 20 km apart, with the construction of the road and with logging operations. They took in travellers who generally journeyed on foot. Later, during the interwar period, L'Étape marked the end of the improved highway. At that time, a forest protection station was in operation. With the completion of Boulevard Talbot in 1951, the Québec government erected a hotel complex at this location. Among other services, it provided accommodations, meal services, a gas station, and hunting and fishing services. The buildings are now gone, but a gas station and restaurant maintain the purpose of this location.

Portes de l'Enfer Lodge

You have to go back to the 14th century to find the origin of the word porte. It comes from the Latin porta, which meant a narrow passage, gap, or pass through the mountains. In Réserve faunique des Laurentides, the Portes de l'Enfer valley is the one through which Rivière Pikauba flows 12 km north of Lac Jacques-Cartier and 4.5 km west of Route 175. It's lined with mountains, some of which rise to over 1,000 m in altitude. In 1865, a pioneering road, useable only in winter, was opened to Lac- Saint-Jean. The local topography and the harsh climate inspired the name Portes de l'Enfer (gates of hell). Travellers had to face a hellish mix of snow, ice, and wind! Isn't it ironic that this name now refers to the cosiest place on the wildlife reserve-a warm lodge and snug cabins where anglers and hunters relax under the American plan in comfort that travellers of yesteryear could not even imagine?


Attractions

The wildlife reserve is a huge reserve of fresh water. It is sprinkled with hundreds of lakes, with Lac Jacques-Cartier (12 km²) being the largest. This labyrinth of hills and valleys is drained by the major tributaries of the St. Lawrence. The Saguenay receives the waters of the Métabetchouane, Chicoutimi, and à Mars rivers. The Batiscan, Jacques-Cartier, Montmorency, and Sainte-Anne rivers directly flow into the St. Lawrence.

Be sure to experience:

  • the exceptional quality of fishing during the entire season
  • Portes-de-l'Enfer Lodge
  • Camp Giroux where Winston Churchill stayed
  • canoe-camping on the Métabetchouane
  • Grand lac Jacques-Cartier-the source of the river of the same name.

Fact Sheet

Area

7,861 km2


Bodies of water

Over 2,000 lakes and rivers


Fish

  • Arctic char
  • Speckled trout
  • Lake trout

Mammals

Several mammal species, including

  • Caribou
  • Beaver
  • Snowshoe hare
  • Wolf
  • Lynx
  • Moose
  • Black bear
  • Fox

Birds

A wide variety of birds nest or live near bodies of water, including

  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Spruce Grouse
  • Common Loon
  • Heron

Forest cover

The mountains rise as high as 1,219 m. Forests are mainly coniferous or balsam fir - white birch


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