October 2021

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Lichen: Art and Clean Air


Reindeer lichen (Cladonia rangiferina)
Photo: Savannah Bissegger-O’Connor


When you hike along the trails of the Gault Nature Reserve, you will find an abundance of colourful lichen decorating the trees, rocks and soil surrounding you.


While they may look like plants or mosses at first glance, lichens are in fact composite organisms that result from a mutualistic relationship between a fungus and a photosynthetic organism (algae or cyanobacteria). Mutualism occurs when two organisms benefit from an interaction between them. In exchange for a secure, protected environment within the fungus, the alga or bacterium provides nourishment and energy to the fungus in the form of carbohydrates, through photosynthesis.

Virtual Medicine Walk


Photo: Alex Tran


As part of the 10th annual Indigenous Awareness Weeks (IAWs) of McGill University, the Gault Nature Reserve invites you on a virtual medicine walk with Mr Michel Durand Nolett, member of the w8banaki community of Odanak.


This project was created in partnership with McGill’s office of Indigenous Initiatives and the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki.


Join Mr Durand Nolett in the first video capsule (in French, video 1 of 11): https://bit.ly/3lJjzg0


Explore the full programming of the IAWs.


Additional information

An Incorrigible Flirt


Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Photo: Daniel Jauvin


A prolific vocalist, the male song sparrow is not content to woo his lady with his song and mark his territory only during the mating season, as other birds do. As the cool weather sets in, the steadfast fellow continues his chatter to our delight, making his sonorous song heard long after most birds have closed their beaks. One possible explanation for this behaviour is that the highly territorial birds continue to produce sex hormones into the fall season—but in their brains rather than in their gonads. Every male has an extensive repertoire of songs, which can include up to 24 variations! Song sparrow “dialects” also differ from one region to another.

By Johanne Ménard, of the "Société d’ornithologie de la Vallée du Richelieu" (SOVDR). To discover other activities of the SOVDR and become a member : sovdr.org. (Article previously published in "Nature sauvage", no 5)


New: Annual Passes are Going Virtual



In the coming weeks, you will receive an invitation to download the digital version of your annual pass, which features a QR code.

In addition, a portal will be activated to allow access to your account. You will be able to update your personal information, find out when your membership expires and view your billing details. The digital version of the annual pass will simplify check-in at the Reserve entrance and make your wallet one card lighter. Plastic cards will remain available for those who prefer them.


Important Information about Old Reserve Day Passes



Please be advised that beginning on January 1, 2022, the old Reserve day passes without bar codes will no longer be accepted. Old day passes cannot be traded in for replacements or exchanged for cash. Only tickets with bar codes will be accepted.


Hands-on Conservation Experience


Hands-on learning: Left to right, Jared Gaudet and Matthew Yen, graduates of Carleton University (Ottawa) and Ryerson University (Toronto), respectively

Photo: Alex Tran


Once again this year, the Reserve is excited to welcome two interns from the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC) program.


The CCC is a program for young adults with a passion for nature and conservation. An important component of the program is the three-month internship, which gives participants an opportunity to gain hands-on work experience in the field and make a valuable contribution to a conservation organization.


We hope that our interns’ experience at the Gault Nature Reserve inspires them to continue working in conservation and helps them develop skills that will serve them throughout their careers.

Blast from the Past

A Local Orchard, circa 1910


Photo: Société d’histoire et de généalogie de Beloeil-Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Armand Cardinal collection

In 1751, clearing began on the lower flanks of Mont-Saint-Hilaire to make way for orchards on the south-facing slopes.


The field today traversed by the Gault Nature Reserve purple trail is itself an abandoned orchard. Grape vines and other produce were also grown there until the early 1960s. The orchard has since disappeared, but a few forgotten apple trees stand as a reminder of the region’s history.


About our Blasts from the Past
As owner and guardian of the Gault Nature Reserve, we plan to celebrate the university’s bicentennial by publishing a monthly photo in InfoGault. Each photo will capture a moment from the history of this beautiful site.


General Public – Free Online Lecture Series


To mark McGill University’s bicentennial anniversary, the Faculty of Science is putting on the Bicentennial Mini-Science lecture series, a monthly series of online lectures open to the public. All events are livestreamed, and there is no need to register to attend.


Upcoming lecture:
October 7, 2021, 6 to 7 p.m. The future of the environment, with Nigel Roulet

Distinguished James McGill Professor of Biogeoscience, Trottier Institute for Science and Public Policy (TISPP) Fellow, Chair, Department of Geography, McGill University.

Watch the livestream


Nigel Roulet has undertaken multiple research projects at the Gault Nature Reserve over the years. Professor Roulet also held field courses at the Reserve to help his students bridge the theoretical content learned in the classroom with concrete hydrological and geological applications. In this presentation, professor Roulet will discuss the future of the environment and the need for creative solutions to face our current challenges.



Nigel Roulet and students at the Earth System Science week-end
at mont Saint-Hilaire (October 2013).

Photo: McGill University



Faculty of Science Bicentennial Events

McGill Bicentennial




Réserve naturelle Gault

422, chemin des Moulins

Mont-Saint-Hilaire (Québec) J3G 4S6


Téléphone : 450 467-4010


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