3. Present Situation
3.2 Facilities and Services
The Saint-Ours Canal provides facilities and services for pleasure boaters and shoreside visitors to the canal.
Access and parking
There is a 120-vehicle parking lot in the eastern area, on the Saint-Ours side. A main paved parking lot has 40 spots, a gravel lot has 30, and there are 50 overflow spots on a grassed lot.
Weekends are very busy, which sometimes causes congestion problems that affect traffic on Route 133. On sunny Sunday afternoons, especially in July, all the parking lots are full to capacity.
There is a paved parking lot with 5 spaces on the western, Saint-Roch side, and a grassed overflow lot that can take about 20 vehicles. Access to the dam and the fish ladder are supervised by a guard; only pedestrians and Parks Canada maintenance vehicles are allowed access to Darvard Island along the top of the dam.
Nowadays, there are few buildings on the Saint-Ours Canal site. On the east side there is a garage and a lockmaster’s shelter. The garage was built in the late 1960s and is used to store a lifeboat and maintenance equipment. The shelter was built near the lock in the 1960s. A brick structure with a flat roof, it includes public toilets, the lockmaster’s office, and an electrical control room which services the lock and the rest of the site. Two control stations were built in 1967 for operating the lock gates. On Darvard Island, the superintendent’s house includes public washrooms and two rooms on the main floor, one of which houses a small exhibition on the history of the Saint-Ours Canal (opened 1994), and the other a small tourist information office. The main floor is wheelchair-accessible. The first floor houses the canal’s technical services department, which uses various other buildings besides.19
Navigation corridor facilities and pleasure boat services
Various equipment completes the list of facilities relating to the lock. A floating pontoon is used to facilitate operation of the locks and two small docks on each side of the lock are used as a waiting area or for mooring day or night (one floating dock downstream, and one solid concrete dock upstream).
Finally, there is a launching ramp for emergency manoeuvres and rescue operations on the river. Badly damaged at the base, this ramp is used by fishermen in the summer and for ice-fishing in the winter.
Pleasure boaters have access to the lock as well as moorage both night and day with limited services for a fee. Outdoor notice boards inform pleasure boaters of rules and fees.
Activity areas and visitor services
In terms of interpretation offered, visitors can receive the messages via a small thematic exhibition housed on the main floor of the superintendent’s house, as well as via various outdoor panels erected in 1994. At the initiative of the partner association, panels were also erected on Darvard Island along the “tree path” to identify the varieties of deciduous vegetation to be found in the wooded sectors of the site.
Visitors have access to picnic sites concentrated mostly around the perimeter of the island; these areas have tables and garbage receptacles. There are presently about 40 tables. On the Saint-Roch side there is also a picnic area with a few tables.
On the shores of the canal, visitors can engage in various activities, such as watching boats, walking the pathways that cross the island, and fishing. They can also visit the dam and the fish ladder.
19 These include a small stone shed that is used to store paint and oil, a workshop made of sandstone used for maintenance purposes, and two aluminum-clad sheds, one used as a control cabin for the dam, and the other for water level instruments.