Like many Quebecers, I have fond childhood memories of my family camping vacation in Missisquoi Bay, the Quebec part of Lake Champlain.
I went back to explore the lake by boat, with Aventures Lac Champlain. Aboard his comfortable pontoon, John Sauro takes two to 10 passengers for a commented and private tour.
We left from the marina of Venise-en-Québec. I was with a couple of friends from Laval, Mariève Désilets and Alejandro Amado, accompanied by their one-year-old son Adriano.
Along the west shore and passing through Saint-Georges-de-Clarenceville, pass small chalets reminiscent of the beginnings of vacationing on the shores of Missisquoi Bay. You can also see beautiful and large second homes that were erected following the arrival of municipal services.
Here and there, Captain John stops the pontoon to talk to us. Among other things, he says that the name of the lake was given by Samuel de Champlain himself when he mapped it in 1612.
Nearly 200 kilometers long, including 8 kilometers in Quebec, he points out, the lake is fed by 11 rivers, including the Rivière aux Brochets, on this side of the border.
The view carries far. Captain John tells us what we see on the horizon. In Quebec: the Brome (Bromont), Pinacle and Sutton mountains. In Vermont: Jay Peak, Stowe and Mount Mansfield, the highest in the state.
along the border
Beacons on which terns were perched mark the border with the United States. On the Vermont side, you can see the Missisquoi Natural Wildlife refuge, a protected natural site.
Captain John points out that the Lake Champlain Valley, including cliffs, forests and marshes, is home to up to 300 species of birds. The only place in the world where there are more, he says, is in the Amazon!
Along the route, there is also talk of the presence of the Abenakis and Iroquois before the arrival of the Europeans, of the Champlain Sea that preceded the formation of the lake, or of the Malibu-style chalets perched on the cliffs of Saint- Armand.
A tour with Captain John is like watching a documentary, with the pleasure of being on the water.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN ADVENTURES
Also in Venise-en-Quebec
In Missisquoi Bay, OLAC rents paddle boards, kayaks and pedal boats. Some Friday and Saturday evenings, outings are organized, kayaks and boards being illuminated. It's magical.
The Trail of the Peaks
Near Mont-Tremblant, this new attraction for all is distinguished by its treetop walkway. The highlight remains the panoramic tower 40 meters high, the equivalent of 12 floors.
►Alain Demers is the author of the book Rediscovering Quebec: 101 destinations, published by Les éditions du Journal.