MONTREAL – As the second oldest community in the West Island, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue is a leader when it comes to appreciating the great outdoors.
In fact, when visitors first arrive at the Arboretum, it looks and feels like you’re in a forest up in the Laurentians.
It takes a minute to realize that the natural space, measuring 246 hectares, is actually located on the island of Montreal in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.
Connecting to community: Hitting the West End
Taking the plunge: West Island kids plan to dive to success
“It’s a short drive down the highway,” said naturalist Chris Cloutier. “Before you can even get off the island, you’ve got this wonderful treasure just sitting here.”
As one of the largest greenspaces in montreal, the Arboretum is considered an outdoor tree museum.
It’s open year-round for nature-lovers of all ages and with over 25 km of walking and ski trails, it’s a getaway from city life.
Marie-Anne Drolet lives in Beaconsfield but told Global News, that she appreciates the natural wonders in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue.
“The Arboretum is probably the closest place to where I live that allows me to walk in the forest and to appreciate the smell, the birds and the nature around me.”
Just down the street from the giant forest is the only outdoor zoo in the city: the EcoMuseum, which shows off Quebec’s wild side.
“All the animals that are here at the zoo are animals from Quebec,” explained Caroline Bourque, the museum’s director of operations.
“So, we can learn a little more about the species that surround us and share our environment.”
READ MORE: Montrealers’ 5 top questions on urban fox safety answered
From deer and foxes, to friendly raccoons, and one hungry porcupine, the zoo is home to over 115 indigenous species which are unable to survive in the wild.
“They’re here for different reasons,” noted Bourque.
“Some have gone through rehab after an injury, some arrive because they’re born under human care.”
Helping out the animals is not the only thing that makes Ste-Anne’s a green community.
For five months of the year, the village hosts an outdoor-market.
“The market is popular because it’s all local products, it’s a farmer’s market,” said coordinator Patty Murphy.
“We have farmers who have raised their own food here, we have producers who have produced their own food from scratch, and everyone is using the local products.”
It’s one of the oldest farmer’s markets on the West Island and it has become a hub of agriculture for eco-concious shoppers.