November 2021

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Steeping Tea to Understand Climate Change


Dr. Zofia Taranu (left) and Maude Lachapelle (right) prepare the “leaf tea” used in their experiment

Photo: Alex Tran


Over the past few months, the Gault Nature Reserve has hosted a collaborative project between researchers from McGill University and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). In this project, Maude Lachapelle, a doctoral student at McGill University, aims to uncover the effects of contaminants on aquatic food webs.


On their first day at Gault, the team started by preparing “leaf tea”. After leaving the mixture of dead leaves and water to steep for a few weeks, the experiment was ready to begin. Equipped with this leaf tea rich in dissolved organic carbon, Maude can reproduce lake browning and eutrophication to see how these increasingly common phenomena affect mercury uptake in organisms living in lakes like Lac Hertel.

Hop to it!


Dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis) can be seen all autumn long on the mountain
Photo: Daniel Jauvin


You can tell a dark-eyed junco by its snow-white belly, little pink beaks and beautiful slate grey plumage the colour of an autumn sky heavy with rain. These energetic passerines are rather gregarious this time of year and offer birders a delightful show. They can often be spotted at the base of the feeder pecking and hopping, each more than the next, as they fill up on seeds after summer’s bounty of insects has been exhausted. The males, who can be identified by their darker plumage, rule the roost (so to speak) and tend to be dominant over the females and younger birds.

By Johanne Ménard from the Société d’ornithologie de la Vallée du Richelieu. To learn more about the SOVDR and become a member: (This text appeared in issue 17 of Nature sauvage.)


Reservation System Sees Positive Results


Photo: Alex Tran


In an effort to limit traffic to the Reserve during the pandemic, an online reservation system was set up in August 2020. One year later, the results look positive. In summary:


  • Traffic dropped by 20%
  • Peaks of over 5,000 visitors in a single day were eliminated
  • Visitors were more evenly distributed over the day
  • Visitors were more evenly distributed over the week
  • Lineups at the main entrance reduced substantially

Back in 2015, a committee of experts proposed potential solutions for managing traffic to the Reserve while maintaining the quality of the visitor experience and protecting the natural environment. At the time, no one even thought to recommend a system as innovative as an online system with timeslots! But like many organizations, we were forced by the pandemic to innovate so we could continue to meet the needs of our community. The system has proven to be an indispensable tool for regulating the flow of traffic to the Reserve.


Improvements to the Red and Green Trails


Drainage work on a segment of the red trail

Photo: Alex Tran


This fall, the Reserve began work on certain segments of the red and green trails to improve sustainability and safety while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem.

Improvements made to two 250 m segments of the green trail include drainage work, the addition of two culverts and better signage.

Work on the red trail spans a total of 2 km. Improvements made so far include drainage work, the rehabilitation of certain trail segments, the addition of a culvert and the replacement of seven boardwalks. This month, the team plans to start felling dangerous trees.


Important Information for Fall 2021 and Winter 2022


Photo: Alex Tran


Equipment rentals suspended for winter 2022

Winter equipment rentals will be suspended this year at the Reserve.


Crampons for sale

We offer a 25% discount on crampons for annual pass holders. This offer is valid from November 25 to December 1, 2021.


Winter hours
From November 7, 2021, to March 12, 2022, the Reserve will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the Welcome Centre will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Return of the two-way trail system

All one-way trails will return to being two-way as soon as the cross-country season kicks out. As a result, the blue trail will be reserved for cross-country skiing this winter and will not be accessible to pedestrians. A permanent trail-sharing solution is in the works so that both hikers and skiers may enjoy this sector in the future.


We wish you a great winter and thank you for your collaboration.

Blast from the Past

Forest Fire in 1957


Photo: Université McGill

This photo from 1957 depicts the Dieppe cliff forest fire, which burned for several weeks. Throughout its history, Mont Saint Hilaire has been the site of a number of major forest fires, many human-caused, that have ravaged sizeable areas of woodland. An 1833 forest fire destroyed around 30 sugar shacks and, as you can guess, Burned Hill owes its name to a 1948 fire. Luckily, forest fires are rare on the Reserve, and nature is able to gradually recover after this type of event.

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.



Réserve naturelle Gault

422, chemin des Moulins

Mont-Saint-Hilaire (Québec) J3G 4S6


Téléphone : 450 467-4010


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