While traveling on the Cote Nord Highway in Quebec, following the Whale Route along the St. Lawrence River, Near Tadousac, we stopped at the small town of Baie-Comeau, and had the pleasure of visiting the newly opened Center Boréal du Saint-Laurent, a maritime adventure park and glacier study center. It is a center for families, school groups, and scientists to gleen everything about glaciers: information, interpretation, and observation, while having enormously fun adventures in nature.
Planners for the center see it as vital education for everyone, learning how to combat global warming and prevent further destruction. “We want to teach adults and children to identify these glacial signs in the world,” said the general manager, as he proudly showed us around the parts of the center that are already open. “We will have an electric shuttle to lessen environmental impact. Also various sectors are scattered to protect the environment instead of having everything in one.” This makes for long and interesting hiking trails, laid out so you can see various cuts and landmarks left by glacial movement 10,000 years ago. You can also enjoy wonderful hikes within a beautiful, thick forest on hilly terrain beside the St. Lawrence Estuary and Bay, at the section called the St. Lawrence River Boreal Center.
We also got to see the projected plans to be completed and ready for visitors in 2009, a grand educational and fun eco-adventure center for the entire family. The former church building will be divided into four different sectors with hands-on, interactive, explanatory activities. Sector I is to experience how people lived 100,000 years ago and walked across the Bering Straits on the glaciers. In Sector II visitors will experiece what it would have been like to be beneath a glacier. Sector III is all about the sea level increase, caused by melting glaciers. Finally at Sector IV visitors feel as if they are living the enormous climactic change within a 180 degree cinerama.
After hiking to the water we enjoyed a boat ride to see the glacier’s imprints from the River.
There are various campgrounds where families or groups can spend one or more nights in their own tents or in the park’s yerts. Clean latrine buildings are at necessary locations throughout the park and in some there are unique outdoor but private showers.
At the first campsite is a nice playground equipped with the latest play facilities and the large Tyrolean Zipline ride for children ages 5 – 10. They wear a safe harness and climb a tall wooden stairway to a platform, carefully supervised by well-trained staff members. Then,securely attached to a cable they ride across the narrow tributary to the other side, where they take a short hike and ride a second cable back. This is so much fun that parents want to do it too…and they can! We hiked a steep trail to the adult Tyrolean where we got to experience the thrill over a wider part of the water. It was so very much fun I would like to do it over and over again! Guides are there to assure your safety. Equipment is safety tested for enormous weights prior to opening the park each day.
Visitors are treated to a boat ride on Baie des Anglais and the St. Pancrace Fjard, which is a deep bay of water created by a glacier. The granite rock shores reveal the engraved signatures of the glaciers: in figure eights and deep cuts, 30 foot high troughs and grooves, and quite obvious skid/slide markings. These were from the most important of the last glacial age.
Our guide pointed out the natural wall, which is 95% whole (not crushed) fossil shells in Norford Shell Bed Valley, another gift of the glacial recession. It is the only one in the entire world. We could also see Moraine Anse a Moreau, a bed of rubble rocks left behind in the glaciers’ pathway. This park already provides so much education and fun and we could scarcely imagine how much more will be available when it is complete.