Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Photo of Islands in the Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada. Islands in the Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

The Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located southwest of the Island of Montreal, in a natural widening of the St. Lawrence River called Lac Saint-Louis. Spanning several kilometres near one of the most important navigable waterways in North America, the MBS encompasses the Îles de la Paix National Wildlife Area (NWA), as well as waters within a 500 m radius surrounding this group of islands, with some exceptions.

This protected area of approximately 1100 hectares is largely made up of a dozen low-lying islands dominated by tall grass prairies and flooded forests. The central part of most of the islands is lower than the shoreline, forming a depression colonized by a succession of plant species, ranging from wetland plain vegetation to swamp vegetation. The slightly inclined north shores of the islands are clayey and sometimes sandy, and therefore more exposed to the effects of wave action and spring flooding. Due to their exposure to high water levels and erosion, the shores of the islands have receded significantly. As a result, changes have occurred in the composition of the habitats. Today, tall grass prairies and forests are the main habitats found on the islands. The islands are bordered by marshland, mainly on the south side of the archipelago.

The westernmost islands are characterized by forests of Red and Silver Maple. Reed Canary Grass, Rice Cutgrass and Purple Loosestrife are also evident. The shrub layer of the islands is composed of Common Buttonbush, Common Winterberry and Staghorn Sumac. The easternmost islands have been colonized primarily by forests, which are exposed to water level variations. At a lower elevation, the herbaceous meadows consist of species typically found in aquatic environments, such as Giant Bur-reed, Common Cattail and Broadleaf Arrowhead. In the southern part of the archipelago the islands are sheltered from winds and currents, promoting the growth of floating aquatic plants, such as Tuberous Water Lily, Canada Waterweed, Tape Grass, Water Star-grass, Nitella and Duckweed.

This MBS was established in 1972 to protect waterfowl found in this fluvial section.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Located in an industrialized region, where the shores have been highly altered, the Îles de la Paix MBS provides a natural haven for a wide variety of flora and fauna. Wildlife inventories conducted in 2004 by the Canadian Wildlife Service have shown that the area supports over 11 mammal species, some 130 bird species, three reptile species and five amphibian species. In the surrounding waters, 41 fish species, nine mollusc species, and over 70 invertebrate taxa were recorded. During spring migration, the sanctuary supports nearly 5000 ducks, while 30 000 birds, including Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye and Common Merganser make a stop at the site during fall staging. In the summer, many species of waterfowl, such as the American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Gadwall and Wood Duck, along with Green-winged and Blue-winged Teals, use the habitats of the sanctuary as nesting sites. Several other breeding species can also be observed in the archipelago, including Tree Swallow, Black Tern, Pied-billed Grebe, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Common Gallinule, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Horned Owl and Marsh Wren.

Access and Activities

MBSs are established for the protection and conservation of migratory birds. Activities that could harm migratory birds, their nests or their eggs are prohibited.

MBSs can be and have been established on private, provincial, territorial and federally owned lands. Access to each MBS varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager.

Where MBSs are located on federal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada (EC) is responsible for the management and protection of migratory birds, nests, eggs and habitat. Where MBSs are located on provincial land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests, while the chief game officer of the province is responsible for the management of habitat. Where MBSs are located on private or municipal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests. Habitat management is the responsibility of the landowner..

The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to Îles de la Paix MBS: hunting migratory birds is prohibited, and no person shall disturb, destroy or take the nest of a migratory bird or have in his or her possession a live migratory bird, or a carcass, skin, nest or egg of a migratory bird, except under the authority of a permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada or unless specifically authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited, and dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large.

Access denial or restrictions imposed by the owners of land within the MBS may also apply.

For more information on entry, activities and permits in MBSs, please visit the Management and Activities section of the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries website. For more information on protected areas managed by Environment and Climate Change Canada in Quebec, please contact the regional office.

For greater certainty, nothing in this document shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Map of the Area

  • Map of Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description for the Map

Map showing the location of Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, Maple Grove, Léry, L'Île Perrot, Îles de la Paix and the Saint Lawrence River as well as the Île de la Paix National Wildlife Area. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers the Île de la Paix National Wildlife Area as well as a portion of the surrounding water. The scale of the map is in tenths of a kilometer.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary table

Summary Table for Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 45° 21' N 73° 50' W
Size in hectares (ha) 1092 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1972
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category III - Natural Monument or Feature
Additional designations
Main habitat type Flooded forests and marsh
Key bird species Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe and Tree Swallow
Other species

Birds: American Black Duck, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Black Tern, American Bittern, Common Gallinule, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Horned Owl, Marsh Wren and Great Blue Heron

Plants: Reed Canary Grass and Giant Bur-reed

Amphibians and reptiles: Painted Turtle, Leopard Frog and Spring Peeper

Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
9250 - 49th Street
Québec, Quebec G1J 0C3
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Privacy statement

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: