The last ship may have passed through the Soulanges Canal back in the fall of 1958, but the waterway and surroundings remain a popular location for residents and visitors looking for a spot to launch a kayak or tour by bike. The Canal and the picturesque towns it passes through provide a glimpse into the area’s history and offer day-trippers a bounty of nearby attractions.
So make a day of it on the water, bring along your bikes for an invigorating ride, snack of some tasty local produce on a picnic, or better yet, do it all!
Travel the canal by water
During the summer season, visitors can rent a kayak or paddleboard or bring their own to traverse the calm waters of the canal. The 2021 season began June 23 and ends September 6, with rentals on Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rental includes paddles, life jackets, and a safety kit. Access the rental site via the Soulanges cycle path in downtown Coteau-du-Lac.
Rates for an hour’s rental are $10 for single boats and $15 for double boats.
People with their own non-motorized watercraft can take advantage of the boat launch for free. The dock is reserved for launching kayaks and paddle boards. Swimming and fishing are prohibited.
For more information (including special Thursday events for youth), visit canaldesoulanges.ca/nautisme
Travel by bike
Those who wish to keep their feet dry and travel a bit more briskly can opt to ride the family-friendly paved Soulanges bike path that runs beside the canal for 23.5 kilometres. The route takes you from Pointe-des-Cascades to Les Coteaux, and passes through the charming towns of Les Cèdres and Coteau-du-Lac. Stop for a bite to eat at café-boulangerie Deux Grains Au Moulin in Les Cèdres and visit the municipal wharf with its amazing view or grab an ice cream cone in Coteau-du-Lac.
Those looking for a longer adventure can continue through the towns of St. Zotique — where the beach will for sure tempt you, to Rivière-Beaudette, for a total of 35 kilometres. Admire the farmland and architectural sights, smell the fresh air, and pause in the shade along the path. Along the route, you’ll find bicycle repair stations, sanitation facilities that are open seven days a week and cleaned daily, and signage and maps.
Find more information on the bike route, where to park, and download the cycling path map by visiting canaldesoulanges.ca/biking
Art and heritage of the canal
Along the canal route, you can view a new photographic exhibition mounted on banners that showcases the artistry of 11 Vaudreuil-Soulanges residents. You can also view historical interpretation panels giving more insight into the rich heritage of the region and canal, and see the lighthouses of Pointe-des-Cascades, Coteau-du-Lac and Les Coteaux.
Whether you’re driving to Coteau-du-Lac or biking the canal path, a visit at Parc des ancres in Pointe-des-Cascades is a must. Located at 76 ch. du Canal, the park is an outdoor museum accessible 365 days a year. With a collection of more than 100 anchors — from small to enormous — and other artefacts, it showcases the river and canal’s past. This summer, thanks to a collaboration with the Musée régional de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, four guides will help you discover the unique collection free of charge. Guides will be on-site until August 15, Wednesday to Sunday, from 10: 30 a.m. until 6 p.m. No reservations are necessary. There’s also a small playground nearby and room for the kiddos to run around on the grass.
Events and activities throughout summer
This summer, new activities at the western end of the Canal include:
- A summer terrace from Thursday to Saturday with cocktails, microbrew beers, wines, lemonade, and other local products.
- Musical shows, DJ evenings, happy hours, yoga “Zen Saturdays”, moonlight SUP, and SUP-Harp.
- Three nautical weekends from July 24 to August 8 with a host of activities including initiation to sailing, diving, tube tours, kayaking, SUP, and more.
For this summer’s events visit canaldesoulanges.ca/evenements
Explore the region by car
If you’re not into biking or paddling, pack up the kids for a fun day of discovery with two driving routes through the region.
- The Landmarks Circuit includes two of our favourite summer destinations: Parks Canada’s Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site and Parc historique de la Pointe-du-Moulin in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot.
- The Treasures of the Soulanges Canal, which brings you from Parc des Ancres in Pointe-des-Cascades to the relaxing ans scenic Thomas-Monro Park in Coteau-du-Lac. Both itineraries include nearby stops for food and drink or pack a picnic because there are plenty of lovely places where you can pause to admire the view while toasting to a wonderful summer.
“The canal de Soulanges is definitely a family destination this summer,” says Marianne Sigouin-Lebel, Chef de projet, canal de Soulanges. “Close enough to Montreal so you don’t drive for too long, which gives you just enough time to enjoy the activities and the amazing historic landscapes that are so unique!”
Related Read: Explore Montreal’s large nature parks