A look at the extensive construction site of Cartier-Brébeuf park in the winter, with the city in the background.
A look at the construction site of Cartier-Brébeuf park.

After years of hard work and dedication, Parks Canada has given new life to an historic site in the heart of Quebec City and revitalized an aquatic ecosystem.

Created in 1972, Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site of Canada commemorates Jacques Cartier’s first overwintering in North America, as well as the establishment of the first Jesuit residence in Quebec City by Father Jean de Brébeuf. Used for years as a fill zone and dump site, the soil around Cartier-Brébeuf Park and the banks of the intersecting Lairet River was contaminated, and the site posed a hazard to visitors and wildlife alike. It was an area in desperate need of rescue.

As part of the restoration project, the Parks Canada team stepped briefly back in time: the site was returned to the configuration it would have had at the time of Jacques Cartier, and soil was analyzed. After an analysis of the ecological and toxicological risks and an environmental assessment, site cleanup began with the excavation and removal of nearly 3,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil to authorized sites. The park site and river banks were then re-naturalized through the planting of trees, shrubs, and aquatic plants in an effort to rebuild the damaged ecosystem.

Several site visitors biking along the beautiful bike paths , crossing a bridge that covers the Lairet River in Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site.
Visitors enjoying the bike paths that run along the Lairet River.

Project Benefits

The parks scenic pedestrian trails, bike path and new interpretation pavilion combined lead to Cartier-Brébeuf Park winning an Award of Excellence from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. Not only is the architecture beautiful but it is now a place where residents, families, and cultural groups can get outside and enjoy nature safely. And it’s not just people who have benefitted from the park’s revitalization! With the removal of contaminated soil and the revival of the aquatic ecosystem, wildlife such as carp, the great blue heron, the American black duck, the mallard and the double-crested cormorant have returned to the area, making this project another environmental success.

Jogging along the beautiful pedestrian trails through the park.