Bois Papineau’s 30th year marked with a walk in the woods

Laval continues to protect its forests, says Mayor Marc Demers

Martin C. Barry

On Monday Sept. 19, grade five students from École Boisjoili in eastern Laval got a guided tour of one of Île Jésus’ best kept secrets – the Bois Papineau. Although the densely-wooded forest behind the Pavillon du Bois Papineau on Saint-Martin Blvd. East has been a protected area for decades, a surprising number of people are not yet aware of its charms.

Students from École Boisjoli
Students from École Boisjoli took part in the 30th anniversary celebration of the Bois Papineau on Sept. 19, 2016

Very old trees

Among other things, the Papineau woods are said to resemble very closely what the forests of New France looked like shortly after the arrival of the first colonists. This is because many of the trees are more than 200 hundred years old. In 2016, the City of Laval is marking the 30th year since an association was formed to lobby successfully for the woods to be declared a conservation site.

By 1986, long after vast agricultural and wooded areas of the City of Laval had started to be settled for suburban development, the Association du Bois Papineau was formed to safeguard what was increasingly seen as a threatened natural heritage. Today the territory is well protected over an area of several acres from development and construction.

For the children

Following the tour, the students and their teachers were joined in the Pavillon du Bois Papineau by Mayor Marc Demers, Mille-Îles Liberal MNA Francine Charbonneau, Laval city councillor for Val-des-Arbres Christiane Yoakim and CSDL president Louise Lortie. Demers spoke of the importance of preserving Laval’s forested areas such as the Papineau woods for future generations of children. He also maintained that since coming to power at Laval city hall three years ago, his administration has taken important steps to protect Laval’s woodlands.

Lungs of the city

“At the same time our woodlands are the lungs of a big city,” added Demers. “We know that air quality is a constant challenge. So we must do everything and make every effort to preserve the quality of the air. I have said before that we are what we breathe and we have a responsibility to assure the best quality possible. Health costs linked to the quality of the air are going through the roof in Canada these past few years according to the latest studies that I have been privileged to see and it is enormous. It is a sign that we need to be careful with our woodlands.”

Laval city councillor hand out copies of L’Arbre millénaire to grade five students from École Boisjoili.
Laval city councillor for Val-des-Arbres Christiane Yoakim, left, and Mille-Îles Liberal MNA Francine Charbonneau hand out copies of L’Arbre millénaire to grade five students from École Boisjoili.

New book launched

Charbonneau followed up on the children’s theme brought up by Demers. “It is through you that we come to understand that the woods don’t belong to adults – they are lent out to the children,” she said, alluding to the fact that the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said something along the same lines.

At the same time, the gathering was also was the occasion for the launch of a new book completed for the 30th anniversary of the Papineau woodlands: L’Arbre millénaire, ou l’histoire du Bois Papineau. Publication of the book received an important amount of financial support from Me. Pierre Renaud who was also present for its launch.