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Oka National Park
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
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 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 AgoClick thumbnail to view full-size
Today: In Winter the Ice Bridge Across the Water
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).
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 OkaClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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!
Misc. yet must see.Click thumbnail to view full-size
© 2014 Carol Houle