4. Issues and Strategic Directions
4.2 Strategic Directions
4.2.5 Site visitation and use
Services for pleasure boating
The Saint-Ours Canal offers pleasure boaters an opportunity for a safe stop, with lock and moorage facilities available to them day and night. During periods of high traffic, however, the number of berths is occasionally unequal to demand. Day- and night-time boat services are currently limited to providing dockside mooring and access to washrooms.
Visitor activities and services
The scale of services available and the nature of activities on offer affect visitors’ perception of the site as a transit area. No restaurant or accommodation is available on the site, apart from a snack bar opposite the main entrance on the east side of Route 133. The closest centre of services is at Saint-Ours.
The main activities that take place on the canal banks centre on watching boats, walking, picnicking, and visiting the exhibition in the superintendent’s house. Visitors seem to find watching boats go through the locks a highly entertaining activity. All in all, the activities on offer are largely recreational.
The potential of the Saint-Ours Canal site resides largely in its summer activities. The site’s history and heritage resources are largely unknown and unappreciated in spite of the best efforts of the lockmasters and the presence of interesting equipment on the site. Otherwise, cultural activities based on the presentation of heritage have remained largely undeveloped.
The main market potentials related to pleasure boating are represented by Quebecers, especially those who own boats on the Richelieu and in the Greater Montreal area; other potential clients include pleasure boaters from elsewhere in Quebec, the northeastern US, and southeastern Ontario.
As with other waterways, the Quebec historic canal circuit is, potentially, attractive in equal measure to pleasure boaters from Quebec and elsewhere. In addition, more and more tourists are seeking out theme cruises. Boat rental could also interest a certain segment of the population, even though this trend is not yet widespread in Quebec.
The Saint-Ours Canal forms part of a varied, organized and dynamic regional tourist environment. In the longer term, certain regional projects such as the development of a bike path along the Richelieu River will expand the service offering provided canal boaters and strengthen shoreline functions.
As for shoreside visitors, the Saint-Ours Canal can table on the patronage of local and regional residents for its main sources of market potential, as well as on tourists visiting the Montérégie or the Greater Montreal region (increasingly so in the case of the latter). But in spite of the increasing market potential of Montrealers, drawing new clients still proves difficult, given the number and variety of attractions in the Greater Montreal and Montérégie regions.
Cultural or heritage tourism, however, based on a sense of discovery that draws visitors into cultural activity, is the way of the future and is likely to draw streams of tourists, foster interest among clienteles, and generate economic benefits.
- Promote the expansion and renewal of clienteles by re-establishing a balance between the recreational and heritage dimensions of the site, by maintaining the interest and sense of belonging of the existing clientele, and by offering a high-quality product, while also, taking into account the site’s limited capacity to receive visitors and its relative fragility.
- In collaboration with partners, develop new products having a “heritage flavour” or that are related to the history of the canal and the Richelieu waterway.
- Enhance the role of the lockmasters in terms of welcoming and informing pleasure boaters.
- Boost the reputation of the historic canal system in eastern Canada amongst pleasure boaters from Quebec and elsewhere.