Explore the waters of a wildlife preserve
Families wanting to enjoy a day in nature are invited to discover Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles and its protected wildlife refuge this summer.
For the first three weekends of June, visitors can rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) on Saturdays and Sundays at the Berge du Garrot watercraft rental centres in Laval’s Sainte-Rose district, and in Boisbriand on the river’s north shore. On Friday, June 24, the service will be extended to seven days a week and activities will also be offered at rental centres in Bois-des-Filion and Saint-Eustache.
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Launch events for three new rental sites will be held on June 18 in Boisbriand, July 3 in Bois-des-Filion, and July 9 in Saint-Eustache. On these days, there will be entertainment, a family zone, games, and prizes to be won. A 25 per cent discount will be given on boat rentals and visitors can receive additional discounts that can be used on future visits.
At the nature park’s main site in Laval, the Family Fishing guided activity will teach participants the basics of fishing. As a bonus, this activity and the learn-to-fish program provides kids between 9-12 a fishing license valid until they turn 18, a fishing rod, and a Guliver Guide kids’ activity book. Visitors 12 years and older can also take part in initiation to kayaking and SUP courses, and those 14 and older can see the park in a whole new light while kayaking at dusk.
Reservations for activities must be made online through the Sport Plus portal.
Spend the day
The park’s Laval boat rental centre is one of the largest in Quebec and the river is a great spot for beginner paddlers and families. The water of the park’s wildlife refuge extends over 42 kilometres of protected river and is home to Great Egrets, Chimney Swifts, Western Osprey, and a multitude of colourful warblers and ducks.
“A unique attraction in Quebec, our park is the largest protected wildlife area in the greater metropolitan area,” says Catherine Angehrn, Éco-Nature and Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles communication and marketing director. “You can explore the islands and shores through a variety of guided activities fit for the whole family. You can also navigate through the islands, marshes and hiking trails on your own with self-guided tours.”
Boat rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a block of three hours or for the entire day. Pack a picnic and wander the trails and set aside time to visit the Exploration Centre where you’ll find a café, an exhibition on the river’s history and ecological importance, and the watercraft rental centre.
Expanded nature area
The new sites along the river’s north shore are part of a recreational tourism project with the riverside towns and are operated by Éco-Nature, a non-profit organization that aims to protect Mille Îles River and its tributaries. The project aims to enhance access to the water and allow more visitors to benefit from the services at the popular Laval Sainte-Rose site, which welcomes more than 130,000 visitors annually. It will create seven sites along the Rivière des Mille Îles, each equipped with a reception and service building, and additional stops along the banks where people can access the water and discover the abundance of birds and wildlife who live in the environment, including 91 species that are at risk.
Éco-Nature, in partnership with the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks and in collaboration with the nine municipalities bordering the river, has been piloting a large-scale project to expand the wildlife refuge since 2009. In 2022, 432 municipal lots of islands, shores and wetlands will be allocated by the city of Laval to the Rivière-des-Mille-Îles refuge, increasing the area from 26 hectares to 568 hectares, giving visitors and wildlife even more space to enjoy.
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Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles
345 Sainte-Rose Blvd., Laval
Visit parc-mille-iles.qc.ca for information on their activities and to stay up-to-date on events.