Mont Saint Hilaire

Located about 32 km east of Montreal, Mont Saint-Hilaire is a steep-sided circular formation rising some 250 meters above the Saint Lawrence plain. It comprises one of the last remnants of old growth deciduous forest in Quebec and hosts many rare and endangered species.

The biosphere reserve is located near a major urban region of some 3.5 million people. Increasing urban development around Mont Saint-Hilaire and a growing number of visitors has led to the multiplication of human disturbances (e.g. illicit trails) and fragmentation of the forest which once covered the entire Richelieu Valley. Tourism and agriculture are important contributors to the economies of the five towns which are part of the transition area.

Designation Date: 28 April 1978
Surface Area : 20 700 ha
Administrative Division : Quebec, Province

Human Activities

Agriculture (fruit trees, mainly apple and pear)
Recreation and tourism  

Ecological Characteristics

The Mont St. Hilaire Biosphere Reserve is a Monteregienhill, rich in natural beauty and in cultural interest. It is located in a peri-urban area and hosts exceptional flora and fauna and also contains unique minerals.

The forest of Mont St. Hilaire has never been exploited commercially and is of remarkable quality. The forest mainly contains maples and beech trees, some are 400 years old. Over 600 species of vascular plants grow on the hill, over 30 of themare endangered, vulnerable or close to being so. The forest of Mont St. Hilaire also hosts numerous mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. In fact, thirty species of mammals are to be found in the Reserve. Some of them are easy to see along the roadside, the lake and the top of the hill, such as the grey squirrel, the eastern chipmunk, or the racoon.

The Biosphere Reserve is also a wonderful place to watch birds, as 200 species have been recorded representing 60 % of all the species present in south western Québec. This diverse wealth makes Mont St. Hilaire a marvel of nature that has inspired many artists, painters, poets and story-tellers in the past and that today still continues to thrill the residents of this rural and urban territory.

Protection Classifications

  • On an international level: Protected area Ia & III (IUCN)
  • On a national level: Migratory bird refuge
  • On a provincial level: Natural reserve on private land
  • On a regional and municipal level: Conservation area


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