Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Parc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno

Lovely Lakes within a Legacy of Human Reverence

Reviewed by Nancy Snipper

A warm welcoming on a beautiful summer’s day
Arriving at the reception area of this unique Sépaq park, I noticed how happy and helpful the gal at the reception desk was. Her name was Isabelle Pothier, and having spoke a few days before via phone to her colleague, Philippe Quesnel manager of the entire welcoming program, I realized that both these bilingual people resonates the sparkling spirit of Monteregie’s Mont-Saint-Bruno – a special park where humanity, humility and heavenly sights merge.

Nature’s plethora of remarkable diversity
Only 40 minutes from Montreal, Mont-Saint-Bruno puts you in another world. Its tranquility and impressive nature vanquishes any city angst. Birdsong and rushing streams are the immediate sounds you might hear. From the balletic movement of white tail deer to the delicate darting of bright blue damsel flies. 

Mont-Saint-Bruno is a feast for the senses; everything harmoniously blends, transforming you into a deep state of relaxation lie in a field or look at a lake) and exhilaration (hike, walk jog) Judging by the impeccable state of the park, it’s hard to believe that its 8.8 kilometres – a modest size compared to Sépaq ’s 26 other parks – receives almost 900,000 visitors year-round!
After perusing the cute and useful items one can buy at the greeting centre (take a look at those Sépaq animal buttons – one for every park), I was greeted by the exuberant Suzie Laliberté, one of the park’s three ranger/naturalists. I was lucky to have her as my guide. We got into her go-cart, a compact open-air way to travel, and off we went.

The human imprint
Suzie proved to be an invaluable resource in adding to my understanding of the park’s history, biodiversity and human habitation. There is more to this oasis of water, deer, and the glorious greenery than meets the eye, for aside from the 200 species of birds, 15 kinds of fish, six kinds of reptiles and 500 species of plants, a remarkable vestige of remnants echo the voices of those who once lived here. 
As Suzie recreated the history of three specific types of settlements here, I was to discover that I was treading on paths once walked on almost 400 years ago by France’s appointed Seigneury (lordship) de Montarville (1711-1850). A mill to grind wheat still stands. It dates back to 1741. Its stone exterior houses century-old furniture used by present-day park-goers who enjoy its history in another way; it’s now a teahouse. What a lovely salon ambiance – a unique place to hold your corporate meetings or celebratory salon affairs.

Later on, a different type of leadership lay down roots – a religious order dedicated to both preserving and tastefully enhancing the natural surroundings.  Les Frères de Saint-Gabriel moved into the park in 1980. They established a school, demolished in 1990, but there’s a memorial, a farm (a red barn still remains). 

There is also an old orchard, a cemetery and a small replica of the sanctuary of Lourdes – a cave where they came to worship. 

Look at the demure mediation pond with flowers in it and all around its small perimeter where they came to contemplate.  Beckoning you from its watery spot is a stunning shaded canopy of trees – 50 kinds in this secluded area called, the arboretum. 

Solitary and tranquil anything that harkens back to the order creates a feeling of love and adoration of God and nature living in harmony But no matter where you walk – whether on the four main trails that are 30 kilometres in length – or on the interweaving 4­kilometre-long network of narrow rustic ones, you are sure to discover your own piece of privacy – a privilege few parks afford these days. 

Mansions and lakes
Modern times brought million-dollar mansions. Discrete and hidden by trees, nine privat4e homes poke up along parts of the perimeter of the park’s largest of its five lakes: Lac Segneurial. Each lake has its own quay from which to admire the view, but there is no fishing or swimming. 

Sépaq has carefully put a rope up along the perimeter of these lakes – even the two ponds near the reception centre to ensure no human being treads on this precious land/water area.

I loved stopping at each and every lake; Lac du Moulin with its three-arched stone bridge under which nestle lily pads. 

Set yourself right down on the bench to stare at the lily pads

Lac des Bouleaux offers its own magic as does the wild more remote Lac à la Tortue – the only lake that does not offer a jut-out quay over the water.

Mont-Saint-Bruno’s website is: parcsquebec.com/montsaintbruno.
Phone # 1-800-865-6527

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