Île Bizard, once a rural farming community, later a town in its own right, is now part of the City of Montreal, specifically the arrondissement of L'Île-Bizard-Sainte-Geneviève.
The island lies off the western end of the Island of Montreal where the Rivière des Prairies opens into the Lake of Two Mountains (see map).
Île Bizard is partly urbanized now – mostly residential – but half of it is still green, given over partly to nature reserves, partly to three large golf courses, and partly to farms. It's connected to the Island of Montreal via the Jacques Bizard bridge, and to the island of Laval via a seasonal ferry over a narrow channel of the Rivière des Prairies on the northeastern edge of the island.
Like most of Quebec's towns, the older part of Île Bizard is settled around its Roman Catholic church, Saint-RaphaŽl-Archange, a pleasant gray stone building dating from 1874 with a traditional cemetery churchyard behind it and a handsome presbytery alongside. The church was designed by Victor Bourgeau and Alcibiade Leprohon, who designed many other churches in Quebec including Mary Queen of the World cathedral in Montreal.
Most of the built-up part of the island, which has a population of roughly 14,000, is clustered in typical suburban enclaves over the eastern half of the island.
There are two nature parks on őle Bizard: part of the Cap Saint-Jacques nature park is to be found to the southwest, with woods and open spaces and some waterfront. A larger and denser park called the Parc-Nature du Bois de l'őle Bizard occupies part of the eastern half of the island. This is a beautiful and well-maintained park featuring a long wooden walkway through marsh and swamp in which ducks, swallows and herons can be observed, and woods that include some of the tallest trees in the Montreal area. This bit of wilderness is fairly unspoiled, but it's also signposted and safe: there are no bears, there are no poisonous snakes in Quebec at all, and the most hazardous things you're likely to encounter are mosquitoes, which can be rather persistent in season, and poison ivy if you stray off the trails.
Most of the retail businesses on the island are within a few minutes' drive of the bridge access. There are no hotels on the island, only a few bed and breakfasts.
The Royal Montreal Golf Club, site of September 2007's Presidents Cup, is the oldest formally constituted golf club in North America and derives its royal appellation from Queen Victoria. őle Bizard is also home to two other golf clubs, Elm Ridge Country Club and the Club de Golf Saint-RaphaŽl, which also have long histories and traditions.
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