Montreal has many parks in its territory and this one covering 330 hectares is considered the biggest. It offers a variety of opportunities through the season and includes walking/cycling trails, picnic areas, fishing, a beach, a castle, a general store, a farm, a sugar shack and more.
The Parc-nature Saint-Jacques (Nature Park) is ideally located on a peninsula which provides beautiful views of the water and probably nice sunsets on the beach. The park is located on the west part of the island of Montreal in the Pierrefonds-Roxboro neighborhood. Take boulevard Ste-Marie Exit off highway 40 and chemin de l’Anse-a-l’orme and you are almost there. The zone is bounded by the Riviere-des-Prairies and the Lac des Deux Montagnes with a portion being the rapids of Cap Saint-Jacques. Swimming in some parts can be unsafe so it is better go to the beach.
There are a few parking areas. The two main ones are close to the beach and another where many trails begin and has a chalet. If you plan on using another parking area within the Cap Saint-Jacques, you will need to pay at the main entrance for the parking.
When planning your visit, you may also want to integrate a stop at the Parc nature de l’Anse-à-l’Orme since it is almost attached.
If you choose to walk, you have a few options. We opted for the 5k trail and noticed that some other alternative paths were closed (April 2021) for different reasons.
Cyclists and walkers share the same route. Of course, the flow of people varies and the scenery changes as the seasons change, bloom, renew and go. We visited in the spring where tiny bright green leaves started showing here and there but the grounds were still greyish.
The 5 km path is next to the water most of the time. I did have a lot of expectations from other reviews. While it is obvious that the land was once a neighbourhood and many are now Ville de Montreal property, there were some sections where it felt like I was walking on someone’s property.
I personally definitely preferred the wooded area around the sugar shack; I think partly because of its wilderness aspect.
From the path we took, it appears that this park is highly affected by the Emerald Ash Borer. Many ash trees have been cut to limit the propagation and the proliferation of this devastating insect but it is leaving a sparse zone.
The location of the Castle is envious and beautiful.
The title of the castle is, to me, a disproportioned appellation for this construction. While the original owner, Mr. Gohier, had the privilege to purchase this piece of land, it was not financially accessible to everyone. However, the residence was unfinished when sold and not to the level of grandeur expected.
Like many other buildings on the site, the Sisters of the Congregation des Soeurs des Saints Noms de Jesus et de Marie purchased the 1916 building. Later, it became a restaurant with a dancing hall and later, converted into two residences until the city purchased it in 1980 along with other buildings for the park.
The name bears the name of the original owner, Mr. Goyer, who was the mayor of St-Laurent.
It is a snack/restaurant place for a stop during your visit. When you are at the Chateau Goher you are next to the beach.
La Maison Brunet
The 1834 house had been in the same family for three generations. The owner, a farmer and mason, worked the land. In fact, when walking along a few trails, you will feel like you are walking on his land but don’t worry it is now the property of the city. Farm animals are present and local organic produce is available to purchase at the general store.
As per the Chateau Gohier, the house has been purchased by the sisters and became the city’s in 1980. Next to the water, it is a gorgeous site for receptions and special events in a beautiful surrounding bordered by the Lac des Deux Montagnes.