GUEPE offers day camps for kids
|Cap Saint-Jacques is a massive 302-hectare park. It consists of the entire thumb-shaped peninsula far towards the western tip of Montreal island as well as a much smaller section across the channel of the Rivière des Prairies on the shore of Île Bizard. The park offers no means to cross the channel between the main park and the Île Bizard section.
Cap St-Jacques has been known by this name at least since 1731, and may have been named in honour of Jacques Bizard (1642-1692), first seigneur in the area. This is Montreal's largest park, larger even than Mount Royal, and offers wonderful views onto water, as it faces the river on one side and the Lake of Two Mountains on the other.
Cap Saint-Jacques includes inside it an entire working organic farm, a beach on the small circular bay on its west side facing the Lake of Two Mountains, and two historic houses, Brunet House (1835) and Gohier Castle (1916). There are other facilities that can be rented for groups as well: see the official city pages for more on this.
The farm, operated by D-Trois-Pierres, is fully certified as organic, and offers tours, a sugar shack, and other special events. At harvest time, produce from the farm is for sale in an old-fashioned general store.
In wintertime, the park offers five cross-country skiing trails, winter walking trails, snowshoeing and sleigh rides. In summer, 26 km of hiking trails are offered, with plenty of possibilities for nature observation, picnicking, and just pretending for awhile that you're not in the city. The park is relatively flat and there's 7 km of cycling trails available. Canoes or kayaks can be paddled out from several places in the park.
There are also forests of sugar maple and birch trees, lots of poplar trees and willows down by the water, some wetlands in the interior, oodles of birds, turtle observation areas by the water, and the whole general nature package galore.
It is possible to get to the main part of the park via public transit. The 68 bus runs from Cartierville wall the way to the park gate, but it has to be admitted it's a long ride there and back.
Public transit access to the Île Bizard part of the park is even trickier. As with the Bois de l'Île Bizard park, the 470 Pierrefonds Express bus from Côte-Vertu metro then the 207 bus gets you onto the island, but it would be an even longer hike to this park than to the Bois. It's a nice bit of green space around a cove, but all the features listed on the official site and mentioned here are in the main park. The official pages don't make clear what, if any, proportion of the trails are on the Île Bizard side.
There's a small snack bar in the main park, but no real restaurant or shopping nearby. If you're thinking of making an excursion to Cap Saint-Jacques by public transit you might want to bring some kind of sustenance along.
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