The Québec Everglades

Translated by Judith Turcotte

When I began my blogs on the St. Lawrence River, I chose to concentrate my research on the little or poorly known aspects of our river. Dozens of books have been published on the beauty of our mysterious St. Lawrence; however, very little has been written on what takes place under its surface. In my last blog, I deviated from this objective by bringing up our responsibilities in protecting certain attributes of the St. Lawrence which possess an interest for worldwide researchers and visitors. I was thus referring to the Magdelene Islands, the Miguasha National Park and the Anticosti Island.

In this blog, I am again making an exception and presenting you the Sorel Islands, an outstanding site that deserves to be better known. I learned of the site’s existence while watching Le Survenant, a television series based on a book by Germaine Guèvrement. It was at the end of the fifties, I was in my early teens and the images of the Chenal du Moine fascinated me; I promised myself to go visit one day and that day arrived, a Saturday morning, 20 years later. I was looking for an activity to do with my son and, for lack of an idea, I decided to go visit the Sorel islands. A boat tour made me discover a surprising nature only 92 kilometres from Montréal.

The Sorel Islands are part of the Lac Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve. This reserve is composed of 103 islands interspersed with marshes, bays and channels. The region is known as the Quebec Everglades. The wildlife is abundant and fishing is excellent. While on the boat tour, I remember passing near a bay with dozens of boats of all kinds. The guide explained to us that the location was unique for the number and variety of fish species living there. I searched in vain on the internet and did not find reference to this location whose existence has remained in my memory. If someone could send me information, I would appreciate it.

I also remember the number of herons that were possible to see along the Islands’ shorelines; these marshes of the Sorel Islands where the fish are abundant are an ideal food pantry for these Great Blue Herons. On the Great Island, there exist more than 1300 nests which makes it one of the most important heronries in the world. The visit to the Sorel Islands, so close to Montréal, remains a surprising adventure. However I might add a downside.

The Sorel Islands are also known for a famous dish commonly known as “Gibelotte” that is nothing more than a vegetable soup to which pieces of perch or catfish are added. During the visit with my son, I had promised myself to taste this famous gibelotte. My expectations were high, very high. I was disappointed to the point that I envied the two hot dogs and fries my son had in front of him. If you like vegetable soup, you will not be disappointed but do not trust the overrated reputation of the Sorel Islands’ Gibelotte.

2 thoughts on “The Québec Everglades”

  1. Another treasure is the heritage site of Grosse Ile, especially in the summertime. In the middle of the St. Lawrence, across from Berthier-sur-Mer, the site served as the quarantine station for the Port of Quebec between 1832 and 1937.
    A wonderful island to get away from the stress of long days working inside is Ile aux Lièvres with its 45 km of walking and hiking paths: only accessible by boat from Rivière du Loup.
    The ‘Lady Sherbrooke’ a commercial and passenger vessel was wrecked in 1828 not far from Boucherville and was excavated in the late 1990s, I believe, by Jean Bélisle of Concordia University, Department of Art History.


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