Features of the territory

Lake Saint-Pierre was designated a biosphere reserve in 2000, as part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. This international recognition highlights the exceptional natural features of this ecosystem and the importance of implementing sound management practices in the region.

The Lake Saint-Pierre biosphere reserve stretches from Berthier and Sorel-Tracy to Trois-Rivières and Bécancour. It includes the north and south shores of the river and of the lake, the archipelago, and Lake Saint-Pierre itself.

There are 103 islands upstream of Lake Saint-Pierre, which form the largest archipelago in the St. Lawrence.

Lake Saint-Pierre is a fluvial lake along the St. Lawrence. It has a surface area of approximately 500 km2 (35 km long and 15 km wide), but can expand to over 600 km2 during the spring floods. This region features the largest freshwater floodplain in Quebec. Its aquatic plant communities, marshes and swamps represent 50% of all the wetlands of the St. Lawrence Read More
Features of the territory

Lake Saint-Pierre was designated a biosphere reserve in 2000, as part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. This international recognition highlights the exceptional natural features of this ecosystem and the importance of implementing sound management practices in the region.

The Lake Saint-Pierre biosphere reserve stretches from Berthier and Sorel-Tracy to Trois-Rivières and Bécancour. It includes the north and south shores of the river and of the lake, the archipelago, and Lake Saint-Pierre itself.

There are 103 islands upstream of Lake Saint-Pierre, which form the largest archipelago in the St. Lawrence.

Lake Saint-Pierre is a fluvial lake along the St. Lawrence. It has a surface area of approximately 500 km2 (35 km long and 15 km wide), but can expand to over 600 km2 during the spring floods. This region features the largest freshwater floodplain in Quebec. Its aquatic plant communities, marshes and swamps represent 50% of all the wetlands of the St. Lawrence. Wetlands improve water quality by filtering the water, and also feature high biodiversity.

Lake Saint-Pierre has an average depth of 3 metres. To allow heavy commercial vessels to navigate the lake, a ship channel 11.3 metres deep and 245 metres wide has been created.


Definition of the terms ecosystem, biosphere and heritage


An ecosystem is an environment where living organisms (plants and animals) interact with inert matter to create an ecological unit.
 
The biosphere is made up of all the ecosystems on the planet.

Our heritage is what we pass on to future generations. It can take various forms, so a qualifier is often added to the word heritage: natural, world, architectural, rural, linguistic, etc.

© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.

Great Blue Heron taking off from the bay of Île de Grâce.

The Lake Saint-Pierre region is home to a large population of Great Blue Herons. These wading birds prey on the abundant fish of the St. Lawrence River.

Philippe Manning
2008-07-14
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


The majestic silver maples on Grande Île are home to one of the world’s largest heron colonies, with nearly 1,300 nests. The Grande Île wildlife reserve has been protected during the nesting season since 1992. Access is forbidden from April 1 to July 31, except for research, inspection, protection or monitoring purposes.
The majestic silver maples on Grande Île are home to one of the world’s largest heron colonies, with nearly 1,300 nests. The Grande Île wildlife reserve has been protected during the nesting season since 1992. Access is forbidden from April 1 to July 31, except for research, inspection, protection or monitoring purposes.

© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.

Reflections on the water in the marsh of Baie de Lavallière

With a surface area of 21 square kilometres, Baie de Lavallière is the largest managed marsh in eastern North America.

Philippe Manning
2008-06-04
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Trees reflected in the water of a swamp in Baie de Lavallière

The wetlands of Baie de Lavallière are a great place for birdwatching. There are 288 bird species that occur in the Lake Saint-Pierre region and 116 species nest in the region.

Philippe Manning
2008-06-04
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


The Société de Conservation, d’Interprétation et de Recherche de Berthier et ses Îles (SCIRBI) has set up nearly 10 km of paths on Île de la Commune and Île du Milieu near Berthierville. These paths are open year-round. Interpretive panels placed along the route provide information to help visitors discover the flora and fauna of this wetland ecosystem. Three observation towers offer impressive views of the wide expanses of marshland. A section of the path runs by a community pasture, where hikers can approach grazing cattle and horses.
The Société de Conservation, d’Interprétation et de Recherche de Berthier et ses Îles (SCIRBI) has set up nearly 10 km of paths on Île de la Commune and Île du Milieu near Berthierville. These paths are open year-round. Interpretive panels placed along the route provide information to help visitors discover the flora and fauna of this wetland ecosystem. Three observation towers offer impressive views of the wide expanses of marshland. A section of the path runs by a community pasture, where hikers can approach grazing cattle and horses.

© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.

Woman seated on a bench set up on a dock floating in an aquatic plant community.

This bench set up on a dock floating in an aquatic plant community allows walkers to pause for a few moments and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the wetland.

Philippe Manning
2008-08-14
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Birdwatching blind on the floodplain near Saint-Barthélémy

This birdwatching blind is located on the floodplain north of the St. Lawrence between Saint-Barthélémy and Maskinongé, which is a major stopover point for migrating ducks and geese. In the springtime, this is a popular destination for birdwatchers.

Philippe Manning
2008-08-14
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


A woman on the Pointe-à-Caron elevated walkway near Louiseville

The Pointe-à-Caron elevated walkway is 985 metres long and allows visitors to explore this wetland habitat and observe its abundant fauna and flora. Along the walkway, interpretive panels provide information about the diverse marshes and swamps of Lake Saint-Pierre.

Philippe Manning
2012-09-19
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


A woman on the Pointe-Yamachiche elevated walkway

The 576-metre elevated walkway at Pointe-Yamachiche leads visitors into a wide swampy area. The interpretive panels along the way provide many details to help them discover the rich fauna and flora of this captivating habitat. This project opens a window on majestic Lake Saint-Pierre and its vast floodplain.

Philippe Manning
2012-09-19
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Walkway over the pond in the Boisé du Séminaire, Nicolet

The Boisé du Séminaire is the first private nature reserve in an urban setting in Quebec. This peaceful oasis with its tall pine trees is located behind Nicolet Cathedral.

Philippe Manning
2012-08-27
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Lighthouse on the St. Lawrence in front of Anse du Port ecological park in Nicolet

The elevated walkway in Anse du Port ecological park in Nicolet leads visitors through a marsh and a stand of maples growing on the floodplain. It ends at an observation tower over 12 metres tall near the St. Lawrence.

Philippe Manning
2008-09-10
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Hundreds of Snow Geese rest on the floodplain of Baie-du-Febvre in spring.

Huge flocks of Snow Geese use the floodplain of Baie-du-Febvre as a stopover area on their spring migration.

Francine Ouellet
2008-04-15
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Magnificent plants with yellow flowers along the Tolba trail in Odanak

The Tolba interpretive trail in Odanak allows visitors to discover plants traditionally used by the Abenaki nation in their natural habitat. They can also observe the egg-laying site for Painted Turtles and Snapping Turtles. Tolba is the Abenaki word for turtle.

Philippe Manning
2012-09-14
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


With its strategic location and abundant natural resources, this vast region has played a major role in Canadian history for over 500 years. This region was frequented by the St. Lawrence Iroquoians (16th century) and the Abenaki (18th century). It was visited by the explorers Cartier (1535) and Champlain (1603-1609-1610). Laviolette founded the city of Trois-Rivières in 1634; Fort Richelieu was built in 1642, and the Seigneury of Pierre de Saurel was established in 1672. Loyalists and Germans settled in Sorel during the American War of Independence (1775-1781). Lake Saint-Pierre became an important centre of industry in the 20th century, and remains so today. The region has always been very attractive for human settlement because of the ease of transport provided by its ready access to major waterways; its rich soil, ideal for agriculture; and its abundant fish and wildlife.
With its strategic location and abundant natural resources, this vast region has played a major role in Canadian history for over 500 years. This region was frequented by the St. Lawrence Iroquoians (16th century) and the Abenaki (18th century). It was visited by the explorers Cartier (1535) and Champlain (1603-1609-1610). Laviolette founded the city of Trois-Rivières in 1634; Fort Richelieu was built in 1642, and the Seigneury of Pierre de Saurel was established in 1672. Loyalists and Germans settled in Sorel during the American War of Independence (1775-1781). Lake Saint-Pierre became an important centre of industry in the 20th century, and remains so today. The region has always been very attractive for human settlement because of the ease of transport provided by its ready access to major waterways; its rich soil, ideal for agriculture; and its abundant fish and wildlife.

© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.

Flock of Mallards wading in the river.

Hunting for waterfowl (ducks and geese) is a popular activity in the Lake Saint-Pierre; White-Tailed Deer are also hunted.

Philippe Manning
2012-11-20
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


A fisherman in his boat, holding a good-sized Walleye.

Nearly 80 species of fish inhabit the waters of the Lake Saint-Pierre biosphere reserve.

Paul Messier
2012-08-02
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


A commercial vessel sails along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Each year, about 5,000 commercial vessels of all types sail along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Throughout the year, heavy commercial vessels sail up the river to Montreal.

Mario Claoutier
2012-08-04
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Smokestacks of the factory silhouetted against the horizon, seen from the archipelago.

The unspoilt natural environment of the islands contrasts with the port and industrial activities that can be seen in the distant background.

Mario Cloutier
2012-08-04
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Soybean field near the Yamaska

The rich soil of the Lake Saint-Pierre region is very suitable for agriculture. The main crops are corn and soy. Cattle are also raised here.

Philippe Manning
2012-09-14
© 2013, Biophare. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Educational objectives

  1. Become familiar with the region and its features.
  2. Be able to define the terms heritage, ecosystem and biosphere. 
  3. Gain a better understanding of various elements of the environment.
Curricular connections

Connections will be established between the virtual exhibit The Human Side of Lake Saint-Pierre and the contents of educational programs: rational resource use for an equitable distribution of wealth; awareness of interdependence between the environment and the organization of a society in its territory.

Learning outcomes

Draw up an overview of the region: physical features and human activities.

Measures taken to create a lesson plan based on the collection of learning objects

A student notebook, provided in the virtual exhibition, allows teams of students to note information on the physical features of Lake Saint-Pierre and its archipelago and the human activities that are practised there.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans