Îles de la Paix National Wildlife Area

Îles de la Paix National Wildlife Area (NWA) is a chain of islands, stretching over several kilometers (km) in the middle of Lake Saint-Louis, a natural widening of the St. Lawrence River in Québec. This NWA protects weed beds that are important waterfowl breeding habitats and staging areas for migratory birds.


Îles de la Paix National Wildlife Area (NWA) is an area of 129 hectares and is located in a highly urbanized and industrialized region southwest of Montreal. The islands lie along one of North America's major waterways, the St. Lawrence Seaway. Environment and Climate Change Canada established the NWA in 1977.

Habitat of Ile de la Paix
Îles de la Paix National Wildlife Area. Photo: Benoît  Roberge

The NWA is composed of low-lying islands with sparse stands of silver maple, surrounded by beaches and wetlands. Despite its limited size, the area hosts a diversity of habitats. The NWA regularly attracts nearly 130 species of birds. The islands provide nesting sites for several dozen pairs of ducks, and provide food and shelter for nearly 5,000 ducks during spring and nearly 30,000 during fall migration. The area is also home to over 150 animal species, and 50 plant species, including a number of species at risk.

Mallard drake in a marsh area
Mallard duck. Photo: G. Gechdolff

Birds mostly congregate on the Îles de la Paix during the nesting period. American black duck, mallard, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and northern pintail nest on the islands’ edges. Occasionally, during high water, these birds nest in the crotches of trees. The dead trees on the islands provide plenty of roosting space for tree swallows. Black terns have also been observed.

Mammals also visit the islands, such as:

  • muskrats
  • beavers
  • American minks
  • coyotes
  • red foxes

The wildlife area is exposed to substantial threats and management challenges. This is due to its location near a large city, as well as to current and past human activities. Primary issues areerosion due to the regulation of water levels in the Seaway, the impact of human activity on wildlife species and habitats, and the presence of invasive alien species.

Additional threats to the conservation of wildlife are:

  • hunting and poaching
  • gaps in scientific knowledge
  • contaminated sediment
  • accidental marine spills

Find more information on Îles de la Paix NWA in the summary table below.


Under the Canada Wildlife Act, NWAs are protected and managed in accordance with the Wildlife Area Regulations. The primary purpose of NWAs is to protect and conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. For this purpose and according to the legislation, all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife can be prohibited. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all other activities are prohibited in all NWAs. However, some activities may be authorized through Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWA Management and Activities section. You can also consult the Îles de la Paix NWA management plan.

Access to the Îles de la Paix NWA is generally prohibited, except under the authority of a permit issued by the Minister. This type of management is due to the fragility of the wildlife species and island environments. Hunting or harvesting of natural resources is forbidden within the boundaries of the NWA, although ECCC can issue a permit that authorizes waterfowl hunting in the waters of the Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary, 500 meters around the islands

In addition, permits may be issued for research activities, in keeping with the priorities set out in the management plan for the wildlife area. Permits may also be issued for other conservation activities such as surveys, or the enhancement or restoration of habitat. Priority will be given to collaborative activities with local agencies and organizations to promote the protection and the conservation of wildlife species and their habitat.

More information on access and permitting for Îles de la Paix NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Notice from Environment and Climate Change Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada would like to inform the public that the Îles de la Paix NWA - an archipelago in the municipalities of Beauharnois and Léry - is a protected area closed to the public. Since its creation in 1977, the NWA has been protecting wildlife and habitats, particularly those of migratory birds and species at risk. This area also includes a MBS, where it is specifically prohibited to hunt, take, injure, destroy or disturb migratory birds, their nests or their eggs.

To protect the area, access is strictly prohibited from May 1 to August 15. The Department is also informing the visitors to the areas around NWA islands of their obligation to follow certain rules, as dictated by the Canada Wildlife Act, the 1994 Migratory Birds Convention Act, and corresponding regulations. Anyone who neglects to follow these rules or obey the laws in effect may be subject to fines and prosecution.

Without a permit issued by the Minister, it is strictly prohibited for anyone in the NWA to (see section 3.(1) of the Wildlife Area Regulations):

  • hunt or fish
  • destroy or remove a plant
  • allow any domestic animal to run at large
  • swim, picnic, camp or carry on any other recreational activity or light a fire
  • operate any mode of transportation
  • dump or deposit any trash

For complete information on all applicable regulations, please consult the Canada Wildlife Act; Wildlife Area Regulations; Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994; and Species at Risk Act at Environment and Climate Change Canada website.

To file a complaint or report illegal activities, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada by phone at 1-800-668-6767 or by email at enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca.

This notice shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any Aboriginal, treaty or other rights of indigenous peoples.

Map of the area

Map - See long description below
Map of Îles de la Paix National Wildlife Area
Long description

Map showing the boundaries of Îles de la Paix NWA and the Îles de la Paix Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS). The NWA is located in the St.Lawrence River, north-west offshore of Léry and north-east offshore of Beauharnois, in Quebec. It covers the Îles de la Paix and small portions of the surrounding water. The MBS overlaps the NWA, however it extends in a 500 meters radius of the islands. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, roads and highways are indicated on the map. An inset shows the NWA location in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only. It should not be used to define legal boundaries.

Summary table

Summary Table of Îles de la Paix NWA
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/Territory Quebec
Latitude/Longitude 45°20' North 73°54' West
Size 129 ha
Reason for Creation of protected area


This NWA was created in order to conserve species and critical habitats. It is a popular staging area for migratory birds.

This NWA’s wetlands serve as important breeding grounds for waterfowl such as:


Criterion 2a - The area supports an appreciable fauna assemblage of rare, vulnerable threatened or endangered species or subspecies of plants or animals, or an appreciable number of individuals of any one or more of these species or subspecies (e.g. COSEWIC list). The area supports an appreciable quantity of individual green dragon plants, a species designated as threatened by the Government of Quebec.

Criterion 2b - The area has special value for maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of a region because of the quality and uniqueness of its flora and fauna.

Date created (Gazetted) 1977 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve: protected area managed mainly for scientific purpose or to protect wildlife resources
Additional designations The NWA overlaps with Îles de la Paix MBS. The MBS includes the NWA and a 500m wide strip surrounding it.

It is part of the Lac Saint-Louis and Îles de la Paix Important Bird Area (IBA)

Keystone or flagship species
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act SARA Eight species, including the snapping turtle and the  barn swallow under the Species at Risk Act.

Eight other species classified as threatened or vulnerable, or likely to be designated as such under the Quebec Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species, with five additional species unconfirmed.

Main habitat type Low-lying islands consisting of sparse stands of silver maple and extensive marshes and seagrass beds.
Faunistic and floristic importance Wetland and island environments serve as important breeding grounds and popular staging areas for migratory birds.
Invasive species The reed canarygrass, the purple loosestrife, and zebra and quagga mussels living in the surrounding waterspurple loosestrife, and the
Additional links


Main threats and challenges Erosion related to the regulation of water levels in the Seaway,  the impact of human activity on wildlife species and habitats and the presence of invasive alien species.

Other threats to conservation in the NWA include:

  • hunting and poaching
  • gaps in scientific knowledge
  • contaminated sediment
  • accidental marine spills
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Access is prohibited. No activities are authorized without a permit.

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page, any notice posted at the NWA site and the law, the law prevails, as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity. 

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
Québec, Québec
G1J 0C3

Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca

Documents and related links

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

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

Date modified: