Part of an occasional series exploring North America’s national, provincial and state parks.
YAMASKA PARK, Que.— Sometime between our visit to Plaisance Park and our visit to Yamaska, Miss Jilly’s love-hate relationship with her stroller became a full-on hate relationship.
While we celebrate her independence and boast about her scientific curiosity (“rock!” “tree!” “cloud!”), having her toddle rather than roll means we cover far less ground. No matter; we intend to return to Yamaska.
We knew the moment we pulled onto the grounds that we’d found what we were looking for. Let me say this: never judge a park by its parking lot. Yamaska’s was nearly full on the lazy day we visited, smack in the middle of a holiday weekend. But once we were off the asphalt, we did not feel crowded.
On our hour and a half stroll through the bush we only saw one other couple (and to that couple, who walked quietly and carried big binoculars, we want to extend our thanks for your understanding that it’s more important for a baby to yell “birds!” than to silently watch them).
Here in the Appalachian Lowlands, the trails aren’t wild and overgrown, but they wind through old growth and the trees press in on you. It didn’t matter that the afternoon was overcast because the sky made only brief appearances through holes where birch and maples had collapsed in recent storms.
Little Miss Independence had an apple in one hand and her doll in the other for the first part of the walk. She wouldn’t go back in her stroller and she was furious when we put the doll in her place—Baby wasn’t to be strapped in, either. Thing is, our little mother soon discovered why we choose not to carry her. Having a baby on your hip is hard work.
That’s when she started putting Baby in the stroller, then on the ground and saying: “Walk!” When I took Baby’s hand for a while and danced her plastic feet along the ground, Jilly was alarmed. She eventually allowed us to let the doll ride on top of the stroller.
Yamaska easily gets four stroller wheels (out of five). The trails are well marked but not so manicured that you forget you’re in the woods—and foot and bike trails are separate, so there’s no squeezing or dodging out of the way. The grassy area and beach on the shores of the Réservoir Choinière are pristine. The playground is a fantastic design that incorporates trees and animals and offers challenges for toddlers through grade schoolers.
The park is about 90 kilometres east of Montreal, near Granby. Entrance is $6.50 per adult, $3 for children 6 and up. Or get a yearly pass to all of Quebec’s parks for $58.50 ($117 for a family). Activities, boat rides, bike rentals and camping are extra. Check the Sepaq website for details.
A last word. Our parks are beautiful – let’s keep it that way. Carry in, carry out, so we don’t end up surrounded by this: