Wednesday, November 23, 2016




Bucolic Beauty in November

                                                                         photos by Cindy Thomas

The Saint Lawrence River has gifted us a treasure where water and land intercept, forming a natural island basin for accessible terrain and aquatic enjoyment. Welcome to Iles-de-Boucherville National Park! A much beloved Sépaq park, it prominently nests in the middle of this great river – which together with the Great Lakes – forms a hydrographic system that penetrates 3,058 km into North America! Running northeast from Lake Ontario towards the Atlantic, where it forms the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the waterway is 10,000 years old; it formed when the glaciers began retreating, exposing a giant gash in the Earth’s crust. This geological transformation brought about its own upheaval, and today, one of its phenomena’s is this superb park of many splendors. This is the place I chose to explore on a November day.

Founded in 1984 and only a few kilometres – south of downtown Montreal, Îles-des-Boucherville is wild in feel. In fact, it is home to a great number of mammals, including  an exorbitant number of colourful birds - partridges, hawks, herons on that list - along with an awesome variety of amphibians, reptiles and fauna. The season you go, tells its own animal story.  So, I asked my talented  photographer friend, Cindy Thomas to accompany me. As I discovered, her eagle eye and camera knowledge enabled her to capture the myriad of nuances and vistas that were vividly revealed to us as we explored the variety of paths traveling some 25 kilometres amidst the park’s five islands.

November in this park proved to be a surprise for us, for despite the loss of leaves and the absence of a shining sun, the gentle blend of end-of-fall colours, the dramatic vegetation contrasts – no longer hidden by summer’s overgrowth, revealed pathways of subtle secretive nooks and groves.  

Indeed, it was a tapestry of subtle seduction unique to November – a poignant palette pleasingly positioned for photographer, cyclist and walker alike.

At the reception centre, we met Robert Renaud (AKA “Bob the fox” – just change the ‘u’ in his last name to ‘r’, and ‘fox” is what you get). 

Robert Renaud

 He was incredibly friendly, and helpful. He advised us to walk eastward on Île Sainte-Marguerite (it actually opened in 1982) to begin our 7-kilometre tour of this island. 

November’s muted hues and the silence of nature had its calming effect. We came to a birch grove and a bench that seemed to beckon us.
To our delight, we were greeted by a family of  black-capped chickadees. 

We stayed for a while to enjoy their company. 

Note that at this time of year, people are scarce, though we came across some stray fishermen and the odd cyclist. My senses were overcome with the simplicity of nature unencumbered by human traffic. 

November’s magic meant peace and silence – a rarefied sensatory epiphany that I found inspiring.

However, we did meet up on two occasions with jovial Pierre Bureau – a Sépaq man who travels on his bike to assist and guide. He also makes the cross-country ski trails in nearby Mont Saint Bruno. 

Pierre Bureau

Pierre suggested Cindy and I explore the western side of the island. It was wonderful to simply stumble upon him, for we ended up traveling parts of the walking path of La Grande Riviere, La Petite Rivière with its grassy path, and a few side benders that border channels, wondering where exactly we were.  A ferry appeared, but no one was using it today.

Lost in this network of paths with map in hand, we realized the sign could have been more specific, but part of the fun was simply the nearby surprise. On land or near the water, discoveries abound.

Best of all, the park is flat, so one can see it all with eyes looking outward rather than watching one’s feet for tricky inclines. I loved our day here – the Sépaq warmth, trees, flowing water, the casts of light and shadow scenically brought to further life with occasional birdsong. I could  gaze , sit and stroll here forever!

Projected for the end of 2017, is the erection of three bridges to connect visitors year-round between the islands of Sainte-Marguerite to Île à Pinard, and to Île la Commune to Île Grosbois (the latter two offering 7km.of trails).

Call: (450) 928-5088
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  1. The article is wonderful Nancy...educative....informative and full of life!!! Your ability to bring stories alive with your passionate illustrations of the landscape of the park, and its natural residents and charming helpful staff,is a literary gift to us all...thank you so much for sharing this wonderful park with your readers and thank you for allowing me to be a part of that wonderful day!
    cindy thomas

  2. Your company. laughter and photography acumen made the day all that more enchanting.

    1. Awww thank you my dear it was such a wonderful day in every way!!!