The West Island is a residential region that offers a slice of the good life. The area, encompassing the boroughs of Pierrefonds-Roxboro and L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève and the towns of Baie-D’Urfé, Beaconsfield, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Kirkland, Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Senneville, includes numerous green spaces and nature parks—a true heaven on earth for nature lovers. Here are some West Island activities you won’t want to miss.
The West Island offers numerous options for walking, biking and, in winter, downhill skiing.
The Morgan Arboretum
This 245-hectare forest reserve includes most plant species native to Quebec, as well as trees from around the world and cultivated and overgrown fields. From its 20-kilometre network of trails, including two downhill ski hills and a snowshoeing trail, you can observe stunning birds such as the Indigo Bunting. The arboretum offers a number of activities such as guided tours, birdwatching walks and astronomy workshops.
Heritage bike tour
This extraordinary 70-kilometre bike trail offers a unique way to discover the West Island’s architectural, historical and natural heritage. Cyclists can soak in the tranquil setting of the nature parks and panoramic views of Lac Saint-Louis and Lac des Deux Montagnes and stop along the route to read the information plaques, which offer details on more than a hundred heritage buildings. The route starts at Millennium Park in Dorval, leading off from Lachine’s Pôle des Rapides bike path.
Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park
This peninsula surrounded by natural shoreline offers a number of vantage points over Rivière des Prairies and Lac des Deux Montagnes. Families are sure to enjoy the stunning natural sand beach, an ecological farm and the Havre aux Tortues Bay. In winter, an array of marked cross-country skiing trails wind their way through the park.
Anse-à-l’Orme Nature Park
This park, which opens onto the banks of Lac des Deux Montagnes, is known for the prevailing westerly winds that make it the perfect spot for windsurfers, boaters and kitesurfers.
Running between the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal and Sainte-Anne Street, the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Boardwalk features a wide variety of restaurants, boutiques and attractions. Visitors can enjoy the riverside setting while admiring the boats, picnicking and watching the lock operators at work. In summer, the area hosts a range of concerts, exhibits and family activities.
A TRIP BACK THROUGH HISTORY
The old farmhouses, windmills and military buildings along the banks of the St. Lawrence and Rivière des Prairies stand as a historic reminder of the West Island’s occupation in the 18th century. The Pointe-Claire Windmill, Thomas Brunet House in Cap-Saint-Jacques and Château Pierrefonds are especially worth a visit. Heritage highlights in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue include the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue convent and the Simon Fraser House.
GET OUT AND PLAY
The West Island has two golf clubs, a short distance from downtown Montréal:
• Golf Dorval, a public, 18-hole course
• The Club de Golf Saint-Raphaël, a semi-private golf club offering two world-class 18-hole courses in a beautiful setting
The Ecomuseum Zoo
Only 25 minutes from downtown, the Ecomuseum Zoo offers visitors of all ages the chance to discover Quebec’s wildlife, including black bears, caribou and Canada lynxes. The Ecomuseum Zoo is a permanent refuge for animals that cannot be rehabilitated for reasons such as injury or having been orphaned.
Vortex Racing, North America’s first racing simulation centre, is home to eight professional race simulators (the same ones used for training Formula 1 racing teams!) so you can live the experience of an F1 driver. Get ready for a ride in the fast lane!
Text: Diane Stehle
Photos: © Yves Kérouac – © City of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue