Lachine is the calm before the storm of rapids that share its name. Here you’ll find a series of quiet, verdant parks such as Summerlea, Stoney Point and Fort-Rolland, with its ruins dating back to 1670. Parc St-Louis features the Lachine Sailing School. Here, the river is more than just a pretty backdrop; it’s also a place to play and fish.
“Lachine, LaSalle and Verdun are all good fishing spots,” says Léo, an avid fisherman from the neighbourhood. “I often fish near Lachine during the season,” he explains. “I can wade in to some good spots and get to many others easily by boat. I’ve caught perch, walleye, bass, muskie, even rainbow trout and other species along here!”
In Old Lachine, you’ll find small houses and multiplexes close to the water that make it easy to access all the river has to offer.
Surprisingly, the best place to take advantage of the Lachine Rapids is not from Lachine, but from Des Rapides Park in LaSalle. The Park is full of ecological and historical treasures, including a bird sanctuary, numerous ruins and archaeological dig sites. Brave adventurers surf the standing waves in kayaks and boards; aficionados refer to one popular spot as vague à Guy (Guy’s wave).
You can also enjoy lots of quieter activities such as walking along nature paths and spotting a few of the rare birds that often stop here on their annual migrations.
LaSalle offers a range of new condominiums close to the water.
“Access to the river is what distinguishes us and makes us strong,” explains Verdun mayor Jean-François Parenteau. “This was one of the main findings from a recent survey we did.”
Verdun residents are clearly a little spoiled by their surroundings: almost all of its shoreline is publicly accessible and offers an impressive range of cultural and recreational options. Here you’ll find a marina and an auditorium, restaurants, a massive swimming pool and even a circus school.
“People also come to the parks for picnics and to relax with family,” says the mayor.
Verdun residents will soon have their own beach, located near the auditorium. Jean-François Parenteau points out that the water along this part of the river is particularly clean. “We’re just downstream from the natural filter created by the Lachine Rapids,” he explains.
Around Wellington Street, there are many multiplexes and condos a few steps from the water’s edge.
Although not as well known, the eastern of the island has many beautiful places to enjoy the river. Promenade Bellerive, a park in Tétreaultville, is a particularly nice spot and is widely considered the best-kept secret in Montreal. You can make your way to the water’s edge from several areas, usually through a wooded bank leading to a stony shore. There are fishing lessons for beginners here each year and a ferry crosses directly to the Boucherville Islands.
In terms of real estate, Tétreaultville offers a wealth of affordable bungalows and townhouses.
“It’s wonderfully peaceful and pleasant to simply watch the river flow by,” says Chantal Rouleau, mayor of Rivières-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles, when describing what it’s like to live here. “Residents of Pointe-aux-Trembles are very attached to the river,” she continues. “Many grew up along the river and like to relive the activities and games they played there as kids.” The large number of private docks shows that people like to take advantage of the St. Lawrence.
It’s a privilege open not only to residents, thanks to the many public parks along the river. Some of the parks, such as Hôtel-de-Ville, have recently been upgraded.
Others, such as Bout-de-l’Île and its short beach, are increasingly popular with those who like to dip their feet into the refreshing and historic waterway.
A downtown river
It’s easy to forget that downtown Montreal lies right on the river. Whether it’s a walk along the waterfront, a drink on one of the many Old Port patios, a ride on Jean-Drapeau Park’s cycling paths, or even surfing from Cité-du-Havre Park, there is always a way to enjoy the river from downtown.
Le parcours riverain (in french)
La route bleue du Grand Montréal (in french)