What happens when you get a group of professional Instagrammers – Lauren Bath, Jeff Bartlett and Garry Norris – and let them loose in a Quebecoise forest in autumn? Well, they fall in love with Fall, and leaves, and …more glorious golden leaves… Lauren Bath titles this image “Best Leaves Ever” and they surely are…
Why so crazy about leaves?
Well, everybody admires the change of colours announcing the end of summer and beginning of the winter season. People flock to Canada’s wooded areas to see the spectacle: masses of trees in colours that stun, from bright orange to flaming red, luminescent yellows to vivid copper.
Hundreds of years ago people used to play music and dance beneath trees changing colours in autumn. I had once the opportunity to walk through a beech virgin forest surrounded by a golden halo of filtered light. A sparse rain of trembling yellow leaves continuously fell from the canopy above.
The place was so quiet I could hear the leaves land when I stopped walking. Coming from Australia to these broad-leaved deciduous forests is a big novelty because the Australian bush is mainly composed of eucalyptus and evergreen Acacias that shed continuously but don’t change colour.
So, predictably, our photographers Lauren Bath, Jeff Bartlett and Garry Norris have gone, well… leafing mad.
Le Mauricie National Park
It’s one of the best offerings of Quebec. There are over 30 species of trees covering 93% of the 544 square kilometres the park occupies.
Of the many species found, the yellow birch was chosen as Québec’s official tree. Birches are sometimes called “The Watchful Tree” because of the eye-like impressions on the bark. Is someone out there looking at you?
This vast rolling plateau broken up by lakes and dotted with waterfalls and streams was, for 8000 years, home to the Algonquin people known as Attikameks.
Well, do you guys pack special effects props in you luggage or do you just happen to have had a colourful umbrella at hand? I love this lonely umbrella in the woods: a perfect bull’s eye to bring us straight to the only human presence there.
There are some 150 lakes in the area varying from small to really big lakes. Our photographers boarded a seaplane to have a bird’s eye view of the National Park.
Hey! We Australians thought we have the only natural heart formation in the Whitsundays made of coral rock but look at what the Canadians have come up with (at higher elevations there are small lakes containing water with acid and this is one example):
Birches might dominate but there are also different species of pines, cedars, black spruce, oaks -including chestnut oaks-, elms, poplars, trembling aspens, sycamore and shagbark hickory, aside of course, from the ever-present maples. But are there roses?
Is this a white rose?
No roses but mouth-watering cupcakes looking like white roses. You guys were treated royally I can see…While onto sweets, you might recognise in the list of trees above a few you have tasted possibly on your pancakes.
Yes, maple syrup on your pancakes and hickory chips to flavour your barbecue. Yum! But, did you know that there is also Birch Syrup?
A high-end product, yellow birch syrup has a distinctive caramel flavour and is attracting interest from chefs because of its great versatility. It can be used in desserts as well as main courses and manufacturers are overwhelmed with the demand.
For millennia, these forests were of great importance to the First Nations of the area who used birch trees to construct bark canoes and wigwams.
Eastern Algonquian families lived in dome-shaped wigwams made of birch bark. These abodes were easier to take down and transport than the Plain’s inhabitant’s tepees.
It seems unbelievable but 20,000 years ago, this area was completely covered by a glacier ten times higher than the surrounding mountains.
As it slowly moved southeast the glacier left lakes with sandy beaches and some massive deposits of erosion debris dammed the largest valley creating and separating Lakes Wapizagonke and Anticagamac.
The first non-indigenous peoples were trappers who traded in beaver pelts. Logging in the 1850s reached peak fever and white pines were nearly decimated to build war ships for the British Navy.
By 1880, white pine was scarce and spruce and fir became the next target to feed a thriving pulp and paper industry. Between 1933 and 1970, 50% of the remaining forest cover was cut down and transported by river to the sawmills.
Since 1970, restoration of forests and waterways and the eradication of logging roads and white spruce plantations have provided protection for this magnificent place while making it accessible to everyone.
Now, dear reader, I am going to make myself some pancakes doused in maple syrup and eat them under my gum tree while I look at these images again and book a trip for next year’s autumn leaves. Ah, I also have to find out where those divine cupcakes come from…
For more information on what to do in Canada see Best of Canada. There are so many places to visit in Canada in Autumn. Also in Quebec, it’s a lovely season to taste ice cider. It’s the season to see polar bears in Manitoba. And a great time to go camping or glamping in one of Canada’s national parks.
Discover Ontario’s Thousand Islands in the air and on the water. Try one of the Gananoque boat tours for a fun day out.
Canada rail holidays area popular and easy way to see the countryside.