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Oka National Park

Updated on March 18, 2015

Happy Trails

This park was a lovely surpirse
This park was a lovely surpirse | Source

A hop, skip and jump from Montreal, is the Oka National Park with its clean beaches and protected land and marshes (since 1990). The park is one of Quebec’s most botanically rich parks. Preserved for its natural heritage of the St. Lawrence lowlands, the region’s historical and archaeological past also provides a certain cachet for locals and tourists.

The architecture includes a monastery building of grey stone that includes a dozen out buildings over a 279 hectare property, At it's peak, this abbey created an agricultural school with the affiliation of The University of Montreal. And along with it, the abbey supported itself and its 200 monks by producing products such as Oka cheese. Now it is a non-profit organization, preserving the site's heritage.

The Three Chapels

Calvair Pilgrimage

In Calvaire there is a forest path leading to three tiny chapels, with four oratories at intervals along the path. In 1740 the missionaries taught Amerindian converts the stages of the Passion of Christ through this path. It is a unique heritage walking trail with abundant history dating back to Jerusalem and evoking Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified.

The coming together of the different peoples, along with the development of railroads and steamboats at the end of the 19th century, Oka became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Quebec. Thousands of people have participated in this pilgrimage ritual in honor of their ancestors.

Lake of Two Mountains

The Abbey can be seen at the left.. C 1854
The Abbey can be seen at the left.. C 1854 | Source

Historic Buildings

The Oka National Park shares territory with the municipalities of Oka, Saint-Joseph-du-Lac and Pointe-Calumet, in the County of Deux-Montagnes, in the region of the Laurentians (Laurentides).

Within the municipalities are many historic buildings, restaurants and vendors of local goodies, such as cheeses, apples fresh from the many orchards, and grapes and wines from the many vineyards.

Beyond these are the trails, the cycling paths, the beaches, the wetlands and fauna, as well as the views of the Lake of Two Mountains and the Laurentians mountains to the north, Adirondacks to the south.

Not So Long Ago

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Monks hard at work in the agricultural gardens of the abbey.Farm workers 1912
Monks hard at work in the agricultural gardens of the abbey.
Monks hard at work in the agricultural gardens of the abbey. | Source
Farm workers 1912
Farm workers 1912 | Source

Today: In Winter the Ice Bridge Across the Water

The ice bridge replaces the ferry in winter. Imagine driving across that huge body of water?
The ice bridge replaces the ferry in winter. Imagine driving across that huge body of water? | Source
Facade of the abbey Notre Dame sur le Lac
Facade of the abbey Notre Dame sur le Lac | Source

Origins

At the time that Montreal was founded by Europeans, the Oka National Park area of today had been inhabited by First Nations peoples for thousands of years.

Now, a nine-mile square piece of land, known as the Kanesetake Mohawk Reserve, is the home of the region’s Mohawk nation of aboriginal peoples (AKA . Iroquois or Six Nations Confederacy).

On this old map, American Indian names mark rivers and mountain territory areas of American Indians circa. 1600
On this old map, American Indian names mark rivers and mountain territory areas of American Indians circa. 1600 | Source

Oka Crisis

In1990 a 78-day conflict between police/army and Mohawk nation drew international headlines. The Mohawk protested the city of Oka’s decision to develop land considered Mohawk sacred burial grounds to build another golf course and luxury housing.

The conflict over land use is an ongoing issue in Canada, and though some cases are resolved through the courts each year, many are left unresolved and simmering.

Live Footage from the 1990 Oka Crisis

Ottawa River from Oka

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Oka Village

Oka is teeming with agricultural and touristic enterprise. Come for a day trip by car, by boat or by ferry. Stay in farmhouse resorts or bed and breakfasts.

Experience many diversified activities such as apple picking, available in dozens of local orchards. Visit vineyards and mills, cheese factory, antiques, artists’ and farm stands. Have a picnic on the waterfront or go to Oka beach.

Spend the day at Super Aqua Club, in nearby Pointe-Calumet, with its private beaches, wave pool and many exciting water rides.

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Apple OrchardsMonastery St. Francois D'AssiseOka-Hudson FerryOka BeachPrivate residence
Apple Orchards
Apple Orchards | Source
Monastery St. Francois D'Assise
Monastery St. Francois D'Assise | Source
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Oka-Hudson Ferry
Oka-Hudson Ferry | Source
Oka Beach
Oka Beach
Private residence
Private residence

Oka Harbour (Marinas)

When in Oka

I like to drive around and look at the countryside. I stop to hang out at the ferry dock, sit on the terrace of a junk joint to eat a burger and sip some Coke while the ferries come and go.

I remember the first time we sat waiting for the big Oka-Hudson ferry to dock up. My husband said, there it is. I looked, but it was still a ways off in the Ottawa river. Little did I know, was looking at the large buoy I thought was the ferry.

When he said, not there, right here. I turned my head and nearly went back in time. When I saw it docked so close to us it was as though a whale came ashore. Thrills of shock went through me and it took a few moments to put it into perspective. I must say that the ferry took me by surprise with its stealth and size. I hadn't heard a thing.

The Pointe-Calumet Super Aqua Club

This place draws a lot of people with its private beaches, wave pool and dozens of far-out aquatic rides. It truly is a lot fun for the whole family.

Check out the following photos!

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Misc. yet must see.

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Sunset from cross-country ski centerAgropur Cheese Factory, OkaCheese from the Agropur cheese factory in OkaPrivate residence
Sunset from cross-country ski center
Sunset from cross-country ski center
Agropur Cheese Factory, Oka
Agropur Cheese Factory, Oka | Source
Cheese from the Agropur cheese factory in Oka
Cheese from the Agropur cheese factory in Oka
Private residence
Private residence | Source

© 2014 Carol Houle

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    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for the virtual tour and the history lesson. It looks like a lovely place.

    • profile image

      Lynda Bissonette 3 years ago

      Can't believe we've lived so close, but have never been to Oka. Will definitely have to visit some day soon. Enjoyed your photos and reading all about Oka. Thanks for another amazing read, Carol.

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      What a beautiful country you live in. I can certainly see why land development proposals are met with protest. All countries should have nature reserves and protect them as part of their national heritage for generations to come.

      Enjoyed, voted up and Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

    • RobertConnorIII profile image

      Robert Connor 3 years ago from Michigan

      Looks like a great place to see.

    • pateluday profile image

      Uday Patel 3 years ago from Jabalpur, MP, India

      Would love to visit such far of exotic place. Very Informative Hub thanks!

    • ClaytonDaily profile image

      ClaytonDaily 3 years ago

      The park looks like a nice place to visit

    • Sumona Ireen profile image

      Sumona Ireen 3 years ago from New York, US

      Oka national park i want to ...............nice hub.