This park was what I had hoped for when I glanced at the pictures of it on my computer screen when I did my research. As I entered the park through a different gate this time I noticed all the signage telling you of fines for disobeying the rules designed for low impact due to human presence. Dogs for instance could only enter on leashes so they did not chase and scare or kill the wildlife. Humans and dogs alike had to stick to the trails provided by the park; partly because they did not you disturbing or killing anything crushed under your feet and because all sorts of poisonous plants were growing in the bush and they were dangerous to humans. Trees broken in the wild were only removed if they fell across a path other wise nature was allowed to take its course. There is no picking of flowers or any other tourist thing that disturbs nature.
It is not long before you noticed that you are not going to see any of the wild life in the forest except by accident. It is too easy for them to hear you coming and duck out of sight. It is disappointing for the nature photographer, but is the way nature intended it to be and I was glad to see this. Too often humans feed animals and then leave them to fend for themselves in the toughest times like winter when parks are usually closed or people do other things. As I continued my walk I was forced to take a look at the unsung heroes of the forest the plants and trees and the smaller animal life often overlooked on nature hikes, walks and photo shoots. There were bright-colored snails everywhere doing what they do and fungi and mushrooms of all sorts growing on and around the trees. The tree joined together to make a canopy allowing just enough sun rays through in some spots to light your way. In some spots there were wooden walk ways and in others there was just a dirt path, but all had signs that told you what you would find if you went in the direction they pointed to.
I followed the direction leading down to Lac Baitures. Lake Baitures is a semi artificial lake surrounded by this 26 hectare wetland forest and is in the path of many migrating birds. A cluster of cranes was the first sight I saw on the water perched on a dead branch of a tree jutting out of the water and I just stood there quietly looking and loving it. Then even closer to shore were ducks swimming and diving and totally ignoring me. The park was designed so that no one can get close to the migrating birds and as a nature lover I was pleased to see that this was a look but do not disturb area. It was here that I began to understand that this park was called by several different names, depending what map you are looking at that is if it is shown at all. The other names for this park are,” Domain St. Paul and Boise de Ille des Souers.” Across the lake it was clear to see that you were never really far from the asphalt jungle, but had just momentarily walked into the past. A man with some golf clubs in his hand, followed by his children and his wife in bringing up the rear told me that I was near the new golf course and a short walk up a trail proved me to be right.
There seems to be a nice blend and respect for nature as well as development. I wonder how long this truce will last as mans desire to turn a quick buck causes him to rethink the value of places like this and nature slowly takes back what is hers with erosion and over growth? What will happen when the snails start to take over the gardens of the Nuns Island home owners and the wooded areas of the golf course for example? Will they kill them or just get rid of their habitat all together? I hope this truce between man and nature was backed up with some laws and agreements on paper. Although this area is beautiful I still contend that it is overdeveloped. Let us keep our eyes on these developers and keep them on their toes.
If there is any complaint with this park, it is that the signs are only in french and that this makes it difficult for tourist to understand them. The french only signs leaves english people who do not understand french in danger when it comes to warning signs and with an excuse not to comply with the rules on the sign saying they did not understand them as they were in french only. I think that it is too bad that the Quebec government does not seem to care if what they are trying to do in the park could be jeopardized by their refusal to use both official languages of this country and that their refusal to use both languages on warning signs is irresponsible and could result in serious injury or even death in some cases. In spite of the signs it is truly a must see when touring Montreal and is totally free and accessible by public transport. It is regarded as part of the Lachine Rapids eco-territory and the Pole des Rapides. Below is a quote from an article I read on the internet and it describes how I feel so completely that I copied it for you to read just as I found it. “The 100 kilometres of bicycle path/trails are one of Montréal Pôle des Rapides’ chief claims to fame. In 2009, the banks of the St. Lawrence and the Lachine Canal trail were named the world’s third best urban biking trip by TIME magazine. You will love the spectacular views of Lac Saint-Louis and the majestic Rapides de Lachine from the banks of the St.Lawrence. And as you pedal along the Lachine Canal, you can admire the pleasure boats, the old factories converted into luxury condominiums and the spectacular views of downtown Montréal.”