I don’t know how I came across the website for the Coteau-du-Lac Fort this past winter while I was looking for summer outings, but it looked interesting, so I added it to the list* and we made our way there this past Saturday for their opening day.
It looked teensy-tiny on the map, so I budgeted 30 minutes for a walk around, and then we’d continue on our road trip to the grandparents’.
Well, 2.5 hours later and we were still there and we had: walked the trails, climbed down into the remains of the barracks foundation, walked through the now dry canal, thrown rocks in the river, watched kayakers and fishermen in the rapids, read the interpretive signs, sat on cannons, had a private tour or the blockhouse from an amazing and eager Parks Canada employee, learned how to load a musket and cannon, drummed a marching beat, looked at 3000 year old arrow heads, lounged in the shade of the trees along the river, and the boys got to dress up in period costumes (which of course meant they had to pretend fight too). And when we were all done, ate strawberries and fresh pastries at the farmers’ market, which is open every Saturday from June 8 to September 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as Canada Day on July 1, 2017. There are picnic tables beside the market as well as past the visitor centre and down near the river.
It’s nice when an outing is more than what you were expecting. BUT, it is tiny. Like you could probably walk it in about 10 minutes. I think we spent so much longer than we’d planned for because we explored first on our own, and after speaking with a park employee found out we could get a tour, so kind of did it all again.
The site is very easy to get to, and just about 5 minutes from the 401. I’ve probably driven past the Coteau-du-Lac exit a hundred times and have never noticed the giant brown “attractions” sign on the highway marking that something interesting is nearby. It took us about 25 minutes driving from the West Island.
There’s a parking lot just off of Chemin du Fleuve and beside the picturesque spot where the Rivière Delisle meets the St. Lawrence River. The Visitor Centre is a bit hidden, and we didn’t find it until we’d already walked most of the site. So to the WEST of the parking lot is the modern building which houses artifacts found on the site, activities (like colouring) for kids, a replica of the village, and you can ask for a guided tour. And do the guided tour, it was fascinating.
You can find all the info about opening hours, fees, etc at THIS LINK. It cost us a whopping $5.80 for two of us and the toddler was free. (In 2017 use your FREE Parks Canada Pass! You pick it up right on site if you don’t already have one.)
I didn’t even know that it was a possibility, but the guides said “Boys, do you want to dress up in a costume?” and they got their respective American and British uniforms complete with hats. They were quite delighted.
You can read about some of the history of the site HERE before going, and there are interpretive signs along the paths and beside the ruins.
There are various events going on throughout the summer including Canada Day festivities; Parks Day and Archaeology Month. There are also various family activities including a Family Corner, GPS treasure hunt and a Beat the Clock (a race against the clock to photograph items). Read more HERE!
Hours of operation for 2017:
June 17 to September 4
Every day, from 10 am to 5 pm
*the list is VERY long.