Throughout our history, down through time, right across Québec territory, the St. Lawrence River has connected us. It anchors us, all of us together, along its banks, offering us water, the origin of all life. Indeed, as the source of drinking water for almost half of all Quebecers, the river flows proudly through our veins!
A living river!
This “walking river” – Magtogoek, as it was called by Indigenous Peoples – is a true haven for life. A stopover for thousands of migrating geese, a spawning habitat for the sturgeon that we see leaping clear of the water at the end of summer, a looping heronry in the Lake Saint-Pierre archipelago. All along its course this river presents rich and diversified habitats, ranging from marshland to tidal flats. And the organisms that thrive there come in every variety.
Threats on the river
Excessive hunting has eradicated the great auk. Today, the beluga, the only species of marine mammal inhabiting the river, is threatened by pollution, higher water temperature, boat noises and hydrocarbon shipping.
In Montréal, we improved our wastewater treatment system in 2015. But much work remains to be done along the river to reduce the mass of contaminants that we dump here. Swimming in it without fear, protecting its wildlife from human activities – is all that just a dream?
To pay tribute to our majestic river and all its inhabitants, as well as to our culture, a group of Space for Life employees is taking to the water, for a second season, in an ice canoe! Portneuf, Rimouski, Québec City, Sorel-Tracy, L’Isle-aux-Coudres. Five canoeists strong, we’re negotiating the river from January to March, at the mercy of the tides, the wind, the ice and the currents. When we land on shoreline pack ice, we haul up the canoe and slide it along on its belly – just like penguins!
Ice canoeing is an extreme winter sport unique to Québec. In 2014 it was designated an intangible heritage by the Minister of Culture and Communications.
On February 12 our team will be racing in Montréal with a sense of great pride, on the waters of the Old Port. Montréal, a place where elements blend and interact, a cultural and historical crossroads.
Let’s celebrate its 375th anniversary on the ice too!