Natural heritage: along the Richelieu River

Fort Chambly National Historic Site

Family siting on the grass in front of the rapids
A wonderful place for admiring the Richelieu rapids

Fort Chambly National Historic Site is part of the Montérégie touristic region. The fort overlooks the left bank of the Richelieu River. Drawing its source from Lake Champlain, the river flows to the north for over 100 km as far as the St. Lawrence River, downstream from Montreal. It is one of the largest navigable waterways in North America.

Featuring a tumultuous river, a huge basin and a wooded area, the fort's site is home to an incredible array of birds. It is also one of the rare places where you can stroll along the Richelieu.

Several species of birds inhabit the maple, ash, poplar and coniferous trees while ducks come and go in rhythm with the seasons. The Chambly Basin shelters about sixty species of fish, including the Yellow Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch, Northern Pike, Sea Trout, and Rainbow Trout. It also plays host to the Copper Redhorse, a unique species of fish found only in Québec.

The Copper redhorse

Chevalier cuivré

The copper redhorse is named after its large copper-coloured scales that look like the chain mail worn by the knights from the Middle Ages. It can live for about thirty years and can reach some 75 cm in size and weigh more than 6 kg. Characterized by a tube-shaped mouth, it feeds almost exclusively on mollusks, sucking in and breaking them up with its strong pharyngeal teeth.

Fifty years ago, the copper redhorse frequented five rivers in Quebec. Today, it has become an endangered species. It is only found in the Richelieu. Two breeding grounds are known, the largest is located in the Chambly Rapids and the other is downstream from the Saint-Ours Dam.

For millennia, the copper redhorse has reproduced in the Chambly's eddies in the first two weeks of June, unaware of the tumultuous history of the men who inhabited the banks of the Richelieu.

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