Not far from Montreal's downtown area lies Parc Des Rapides, a wildlife reserve with 360-degree views of the wondrous Lachine rapids. This LaSalle Park, stretching 74 acres along the Saint-Lawrence River, is peaceful and wild. It is also accesible via a scenic 45-minute bike ride along Boulevard LaSalle.
This is a bird watcher’s paradise, home to the second-largest heron colony in Quebec. The site has been a migratory bird sanctuary since 1937, with over 225 species to spot, including the protected Great Blue Heron. The park is not lacking in flora and fauna of any sort, providing a habitat to many amphibians, mammals and reptiles (such as turtles), 66 species of fish, and a number rare plants.
Credit: Journal Métro
The area is also historically rich. Artifacts have been found that date First Nations presence back over 2,000 years. It is also believed that the zone was commonly used as a staging area for Iroquois fishermen. There are ruins of watermills and power stations from hundreds of years ago. Signs indicate how the Lachine Rapids shaped the economic development of the city.
Héritage Laurentien naturalists are on site all year long to answer your wildlife questions! But if you’re not just there to observe the diversity of the waterfowl or for the historical intrigue, the setting is enough to charm you. You can picnic overlooking the blue water and green growth. Listen to the rolling rapids, offset by views of the city looming in the background. Wander along the park trails to the tip of the island, a tranquil spot where many rapids converge and you really feel that you have escaped the city.
Also, there are nearby spots off of Boulevard LaSalle where you can jump right into the Saint-Laurent. All in all, an ideal summer daytrip that is bound to work just as well in the fall.
More Info: Corner of LaSalle Blvd. and 7th Avenue LaSalle
58 bus from Metro De l’ Église or 110/112 from Metro Angrignon.