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Chambly Canal National Historic Site of Canada

Natural Heritage

View of boats entering lock number 5 from lock number 6. Multipurpose trail to the right of the canal. Lock number 5
© Parks Canada / Jean Mercier

Located in the St. Lawrence Lowlands, parallel to the Richelieu River, the Chambly Canal runs nearly 20 km through various urban, agricultural and natural settings. Many habitats and organisms typical of each area are found along its path.

The damp continental climate of the Chambly Canal region is one of the mildest in Quebec. The geology of the Chambly Canal region is characterized by sedimentary rock covered with clayey deposits left by the last ice ages. These geological periods account for the characteristic geomorphology of the site: hardly any relief or topographic profile. The soil is mainly deposits of silty grey clay, covered in parts with topsoil. The Chambly Canal, used to bypass the upper shoals of the Richelieu River between Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Chambly, is an integral part of the Richelieu River catchment area. The hydrology of the site is therefore closely linked to that of the Richelieu River, both as regards to the physicochemical properties of its waters and man-made impacts.

All these abiotic factors combined with the effect of human settlement have resulted in a distinctive flora and fauna along the Chambly Canal. Plant matter is mostly ornamental and regenerated plants. Also found around the Chambly Canal are a number of rare or endangered plants. Notable examples are the blue oak (Quercus bicolor), the long-beaked water crowfoot (Ranunculus longirostris) and the slender bulrush (Scirpus heterochaetus). This is the furthest north that most of these plants occur. Many aquatic plants thrive in the Chambly Canal, which provides an ideal setting for their development. Animals near the Chambly Canal are elusive, though ever-present. The avifauna and ichthyological fauna are the most often observed, but sometimes reptiles, amphibians and mammals can be spotted as well.