The destination is the Ile-de-la-Visitation Park, in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville neighbourhood of Montreal. The park runs along the Riviere-des-Prairies near highway 19 and next to the Papineau-Leblanc Bridge. The trails will take you under the bridge to reach the west side. There are a few historical buildings on the site and ruins of a mill. A chalet provides restrooms and picnic tables are available around the park. Small paths get you closer to the water or to a belvedere. You can explore on foot or on bike.
It is possible to reach the Island of de-la-Visitation via two accesses: a single lane wood bridge accessible for the limited few residents’ cars, cyclists and walking visitors to the park and, further east, a pedestrian and cyclists only bridge.
There are a few accesses to the park via small dead-end streets. We parked near rue Du Pont where we were right at the start with the Maison du Meunier (Miller’s House) and the ruins of the mill.
In what used to be named the Village Sault-au-Recollet is an area of Montreal with an interesting older record. While I believed that all the historical buildings were in Old Montreal, I found this small place.
The navigation on the river is now limited due to the installation of a central power plant but the site next to the church has welcomed some legendary explorers: Jacques Cartier in 1535 and Samuel de Champlain in 1615 both made a stop near the park. Did you know that the first mass was celebrated with Samuel de Champlain on the grounds of the current site of the church on June 24th 1615? If you walk on the west side of the bridge you will be behind the church.
The Church de la Visitation built in 1749 is actually the oldest church in Montreal still standing.
Maison du Meunier
It is likely the first place you will find if you start from the Du Pont Street entrance and if you decide to do so, it will well start your exploration of the park.
The 1727 building was the Miller’s house of this commercial place. The building has converted to an interpretation center with a restaurant / snack place right next to the water. Renting a conference room is an option.
Next to the Miller’s house are some remains of the mill. The construction was built over the river between the island of Montreal and the small De-la-Visitation Island. A dike helped the flow of water and using the force of the Riviere-des-Prairies River, the gear system changed the productivity and it was a new stage of industrialization in this agricultural zone. The mill was in operation from 1726 until 1960. Over the years, it was used for different types of production from the grain mill to paper, saw, flour, carding and nails (not in order).
The experience was very nice. We could see the ruins, hear the water flow and the birds, and the smell of flowering trees made our excursion surpass our expectations.
Maison du Pressoir
The Sulpicians were the original owners of the park but it was when it was sold to Didier Joubert that the structure was erected. We might wonder if the new owner was influenced by his predecessor for the construction of a cider press. Indeed, the Sulpicians had orchards since 1666 elsewhere on the island of Montreal and did produce nice alcoholic liquid since 1685. The Maison du Pressoir (Press House) presents the French architectural characteristic of the first settlers and was built between 1806 and 1821. It was converted to a residence and is currently a museum relating the history of the Sault-du-Recollet.
During our visit we were surprised to see the art work under the bridge. There are so many good artists.
I do recommend that you stop and look around as the area keeps on changing during the different seasons.
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