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22 Mar, Wednesday
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Montreal Families

Skating, snowshoeing, and mystery in N.D.I.P

The sounds of skates swishing across the ice, kids’ laughter, and birds twittering in the trees will be your soundtrack for the day during a tranquil and charming adventure just west of Montreal.

For the second year, Verger Labonté in Notre-Dame-de-L’Île-Perrot is opening up during the winter and offering seasonal activities to its visitors.

Orchard owner Nathalie Gervais has had the desire to offer activities during their off-season for a couple of years, and it was after discussions with her mechanically-inclined son Tristan Goyette, 21, that plans were put into action last year. “He bought a Zamboni and equipment for the tractor,”  Gervais said. “With COVID-19 and not as much to do, Tristan said ‘Why don’t we use the land and do these activities?’”

Outdoor winter fun

Families looking to spend more time outdoors can travel the 2.5 kilometre skating trail that winds through the orchard and extends through the woods. Take your time gliding along, and if you like, be a detective for the day while taking part in the unique interactive game that takes place along the trail. Older kids and adults can also try out the investigative game “Operation Survival” — a challenge where participants will travel through the woods on snowshoes as they solve clues.

Adding to the ambiance will be music and gourmet local products to-go (including their famous apple muffins) that can be enjoyed in front of a warm bonfire. On weekends, savour warm drinks, soups, sandwiches, and maple taffy on snow at the on-site bistro offering takeout.

Despite the challenges of operating weather-dependent activities, Gervais ​​says that getting people active outdoors and boosting their morale during COVID-19 was one of their main goals. “It’s such a nice place, so I felt guilty that I would keep it just for myself during the winter,“ Gervais said. “I’m very happy — especially having help from my son — to be able to open it up to everybody.”

Hours of operation

The winter outdoor activities started January 14, 2023, and may extend past March Break, though it will all depend on the weather.

It is open on Fridays from 2 p.m to 6 p.m, and on weekends from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. The last admission each day is at 3:30 p.m. Reservations are mandatory and must be made in advance.

While the ice is resurfaced at night, fluctuations in weather may affect conditions of the skating trails and the snowshoe paths. Please refer to the Verger Labonté Facebook Page for updates on daily ice conditions and special events. And visit the website at vergerlabonte.com for cost, helpful tips, what to bring, and to reserve your time slot.

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