Oh Deer

Parc Michel-Chartrand is the place for Montreal Wildlife

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2 photos
Photo cred – Stehn John, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Montreal is not exactly known for its deer: our wildlife tends toward grey squirrels and street performers. So it was with great excitement that I learned  deer were roaming around Longueuil's Parc Michel-Chartrand. A friend had posted snowy photos of herself alongside multiple deer on Facebook, and I messaged her immediately to find out when, where and how.

I have a semi-frightening love of those long-legged creatures that goes back to when I spent six months living in the Rocky Mountains - watching as deer strolled along the street or sat with splayed legs while gnawing at flower gardens. They mosied, babies in tow, through the wooded area behind my staff accommodation. For a Montreal city girl, this was an exciting turn of events.

It was a cool, early summer day last year (should have been Spring except we had none, thanks 2014) and I recruited two friends to trek out to Longueuil in search of my favourite animal. We got sandwiches to go from Santropol - big fluffy homemade bread covered with veggies, apple slices and cheese - and drove to the park. As a sidenote, you can metro and bus so a car isn’t strictly necessary.

Longueuil isn’t technically Montreal, but it is basically right next to us. Despite that, the park made me feel like I was in another world. The green space is huge, surrounded by a vast wooded area, and numerous man-made lakes. There are benches and picnic tables, and we sat by the water for a chilly but delicious picnic, continuously adding and removing layers depending on how the sun fell at that exact moment. Families were flying kites, people were playing guitar, and everyone looked happy and relaxed.

Parc Michel-Chartrand has activities year round. In winter, you can ski, toboggan, skate and snow-shoe. There are slopes perfect for sledding.  In summer, you can rent bikes (stepper, tandem and ones adapted for people with physical or visual impairments), visit their petanque courts or the children’s playground, or get fit in their exercise areas. In spring, clearly you can wander around and stalk deer.

And yes, we found them. There are multiple gravel trails you can walk around and through the park, weaving past marshes and more lakes. We chose the one that wound into the deeper wooded area; climbing over rocks and fallen logs, we passed families maneuvering strollers around wide muddy patches. Eventually the deer were spotted through the barks of trees, distant but visible.

They got away before I could snap a photograph, but I'll be heading back.

Location Info: The park is located at 1895 Adoncour and they are always open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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