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02 Oct, Sunday
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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.

Usually closed during the winter months, 2022 marks the first time that Verger Labonté in Notre-Dame-de-L’Île-Perrot is offering seasonal activities to its visitors.

While orchard owner Nathalie Gervais has had the desire to offer activities during their off-season for a couple of years, it was after discussions with her mechanically-inclined son Tristan Goyette, 20, that plans were put into action. “He bought a Zamboni and equipment for the tractor,”  Gervais said. “And now 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 two-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 “Guess Who” mystery game that takes place along the trail.

Older kids and adults can also try out the investigative game “Who killed Rufus LoveJoy?” — an escape room-style challenge where participants will travel through the woods on snowshoes as they solve clues. “There’s a little village in the woods with six houses and you need to go to different places to find the clues,” Gervais says. Walking trails may also be added in the coming weeks so that those without snowshoes can also take part in the game.

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 is 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 says. “But this year I’m very happy — especially having help from my son — to be able to open it up to everybody.”

 

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Hours of operation

The winter outdoor activities started January 7, 2022, and may extend past March Break, though Gervais says it will all depend on the weather.

It is open on Fridays from 2 p.m to 6 p.m, and weekends from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. The last admission each day is at 4 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, COVID-19 regulations, and to reserve your time slot.

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