As a part of the Pointe-aux-Prairies Nature Park is the historical site of the Battle of Rivière-de-Prairies. It’s located on the North of the island of Montreal, along Gouin Boulevard Est.
The battle, also known as the battle of Coulée Grou, owes its name to pioneer Jean Grou of New France and ancestor of historian Lionel Groulx. It was him narrating the events of this battle:
“On the morning of July 2, a troop of 100 Indians is reported along the Rivière des Prairies. It is undoubtedly the vanguard of the Red warriors en route to Quebec where the Bostonnais are coming. The inhabitants are already running with the ax and rifle in hand, at Jean Grou’s, who has the fort on his land, in the woods, behind his coulee. On this morning of July there is all the men of the coast, and among them, to order them, M. Colombet. They are about twenty-five. While the panicked women are hastening into the forest, dragging the children with them, the little troop of settlers decides to start the battle. They want, these brave men, to defend their families, but also, without any doubt, to stop the barbarians on the road to Quebec. At that time everyone wanted to serve, each one doing his job, the volunteer of New France. Without losing a minute, Colombet and the others are on the edge of the strike and fired the first shots. Four enemy canoes capsized in the current. Surprised, the Iroquois push towards the shore and dismount. Then a furious fight engages, body to body, under the wood, along the flow. Colombet tries, but in vain, to rally his men towards the fort. The French are fighting as heroes. Thirty enemies are shot down; the rest fled. Ours lost fifteen men including five prisoners, among whom Jean Grou. The same evening, out of fear of the Iroquois, say the old registers of Pointe-aux-Trembles, they buried on the spot, near the flow of Jean Grou, the bodies of the French killed. A few days later, in the presence of Father Millet, Jean Grou and four of his companions were burned at the Onneyouts’ house. ”
– Lionel Groulx, 1920, Our master, the past, 1924, pp. 71-76
Today, the historical site is very peaceful and offers an open view of the Saint Lawrence river. If you follow Gouin Boulevard Est going West, you will get to the Bleau House.
The Blue House takes its name from its owner, Leonel Bleau. It’s another piece of local history.
From the Bleau House a trail will lead you in between the woods and prairies. It’s a very pleasant walk in between wild flowers, birds and butterflies. You will also see lots of small cute snails on the trees. Scattered here and there are pic-nick tables and relaxation areas, with water fountains and benches.
Eventually, the trail will lead you to the swamps. This part of the park was undergoing renovations when we visited it, but some of the terraces and foot bridges were open. It’s a calm and relaxing environment, where you can enjoy the wildlife.
If you’re looking for a peaceful hike close to the city, definitely put this trail in your list!