A paradise for skiers and nature enthusiasts, the Laurentians refer to the mountain range on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. The Laurentian region is part of the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Canadian Shield. It contains the oldest rocks in the world (dating back a billion years). This region, which covers nearly 22,000 km², stretches from south to north, from the Mille-Îles River to the large territories north of Mont-Laurier and, from east to west, from the limits of the Lanaudière region to those of the Outaouais. It is one of Quebec's main international tourist destinations, more commonly known as "the North". You will come first for the seasonal sports activities it offers in abundance, and for the tranquility of its countless lakes and mountains covered with forests. City dwellers make their weekly pilgrimage there, going to breathe in the countryside, which is only about thirty minutes from Montreal. The fanatics, and there are many of them, "go up north" as they say, for the weekend at the cottage, their second home. Tourists who have experienced it know that it is a treasure trove of activities for everyone, whatever the season. Nature is of great and generous beauty, and the ever-growing population of the Laurentians is concerned about protecting it by making it one of the greenest regions of the province.
Of the Laurentians, we like to say that they are the Promised Land of the famous King of the North (and great settler before the Lord), the priest Antoine Labelle. And it is true that Quebec owes him the exploitation of the Pays-d'en-Haut region. Labelle (Deputy Minister of Colonization in the provincial government in the 1850s) was able to convince the government of the day to invest in colonization, as the first landowners, the Lords of France in the 17th century, had dreamed. However, the main reason for the exceptional tourist development of this region is the practice of skiing and holidaying.
The Laurentian region is divided into three territories: the Lower Laurentians or Portes des Laurentides, from north of Île Jésus (Laval) to Saint-Jérôme, is the gateway; the Heart of the Laurentians, also including the Pays-d'en-Haut, extends from Saint-Jérôme to Labelle; the Upper Laurentians delimit an area from L'Annonciation (now the Town of Rivière-Rouge) to north of Mont-Laurier.
The Laurentians were inhabited 4,000 years BC by nomads. The Aboriginal people of the Algonquin Nation travelled these woods in the 17th century. Around 1840, the first settlers arrived in what is now known as the Land from Above. The road network that runs through the Laurentians was developed at the beginning of the 20th century, a time of logging and farming. The P'tit train du Nord (built between 1891 and 1909), linking Saint-Jérôme to Mont-Laurier and running along the Rivière du Nord, inaugurated the industrial era. The resulting economic infrastructure has made it possible, among other things, to develop the region's tourism vocation. Today, the train is no more. This last corridor is being developed into the linear park Le P'tit train du Nord. By taking a route (over 230 km, one of the largest in North America) punctuated by villages and heritage stations along the old railway line, you can indulge in a plethora of activities: cycling, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, hiking...
Plane. The Mont-Tremblant region is served by an international airport located in La Macaza. Air Canada and Porter Airlines operate flights from Toronto, with connections to the rest of the country, the U.S. and Europe. www.mtia.ca
Bus. The Galland Company serves many municipalities in the Laurentians from Montreal, including Laval, Saint-Jérôme, Saint-Sauveur, Sainte-Adèle, Val-David, Sainte-Agathe, Mont-Tremblant (Saint-Jovite sector), Labelle, Rivière-Rouge and Mont-Laurier. It also recently began offering express service between Montreal, Saint-Sauveur and Mont-Tremblant. www.galland-bus.com / www.expressdunord.com
Suburban trains. Two lines serve the Laurentians: Montréal - Deux-Montagnes and Montréal - Saint-Jérôme. exo.quebec/en
Ferries and ice bridges. There is a ferry between Pointe-Fortune (Montérégie) and Carillon and between Hudson (Montérégie) and Oka. Both are in operation from April to November or December. In winter, the Hudson-Oka crossing is done on an ice bridge (January to March, depending on weather conditions).
Car. Several roads serve the Laurentian region. Here are the main road accesses according to the regions of departure.
For Lanaudière: from Saint-Donat, take route 329 South which leads to Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. From Joliette, take route 158 West to Saint-Jérôme. From the south of the region, take Highway 40 West and then Highway 640 West through the Lower Laurentians.
For Montérégie: take the ferry Hudson - Oka (ice bridge from January to March) or Pointe-Fortune - Carillon. Through Montreal, several highways lead to the Laurentians (Highways 13, 15 and 25 North). However, only Highway 15 North (which becomes Highway 117 in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts) crosses the entire region from south to north.
For the Outaouais: from Gatineau, take Highway 50 to Mirabel. From Masson, take Route 309 North to Mont-Laurier or Highway 50 (Mirabel). From Montebello, take Route 323 North to Saint-Jovite or Highway 50 (Mirabel). From the south of the region, there is also Route 148 East.
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