UQAM Students Propose a New Vision for Meadowbrook

    Börkur Bergmann, a professor at the Centre de design de l’UQAM, in collaboration with l’Ecole de technologie supérieure recently conducted a study workshop on Meadowbrook and its surrounding area. Sixteen students presented five projects aimed at tackling the problems particular to the site: namely the protection of natural environments, noise, and housing densification.

    Professsor Börkur Bergmann, students Anick Juneau and Julien Thibodeau and Cote-Saint-Luc city councillor Dida Berku.

    The students concentrated their efforts on Canadian Pacific’s 4.5-hectare rail yards located at the western edge of the territory. The projects outlined various ways to create a protective barrier and to preserve the Meadowbrook land. One project, “Medina”, proposed a tiered residential unit development, reminiscent of Habitat 67.

    Students Anick Juneau and Julien Thibodeau went off the beaten track, so to speak, with their project, “Haut Saint-Pierre”, by addressing the inherent problem of connectivity in this whole area. They directed their efforts on the industrial zone in Lachine south of the railroad tracks. Their proposal was aimed at linking Côte-St-Luc, Montreal West and Saint-Pierre by redeveloping this zone in three phases, the first of which centered on the section immediately to the south of a new AMT train station. Also on the program for “Haut Saint-Pierre”, a boulevard that would pass under the railroad tracks, circumventing Meadowbrook to join Côte-St-Luc. The first phase also included a market, and then the addition of small businesses in the subsequent phases.

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    Les Amis before the Commission sur la culture, le patrimoine et les sports

    Les Amis presented a brief to the Commission sur la culture, le patrimoine et les sports regarding consultations on the Plan directeur du sport et du plein air urbains on May 9.

    Our brief highlighted the environmental and historical features of Meadowbrook and reiterated our desire to see the space reopened during the winter months for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and walking. “When one considers that the borough of Lachine has the lowest level of physical activity on the Island and that both NDG and Lachine have the lowest percentage of green and park spaces, way below city average, Meadowbrook can play an essential role in getting Montrealers moving and enjoying nature”, said director Louise Legault.

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    The Trees of Meadowbrook

    by Sally Cole

    Century-old silver maple, white elm and basswood trees are among the special features of Parc Meadowbrook, a site of beauty and a space of tranquility in Montreal.  These graceful, shade-giving indigenous trees grow up to 30 m high and live 130-200 years.  As native trees, they thrive in the wetlands and alluvial soils of Meadowbrook.  Here they offer nesting sites to wood ducks and other birds, rest for migrating birds, and dens to squirrels, raccoons and other mammals.

    These five silver maples, located at the southern end of the Meadowbrook golf course, were photographed in September, 2015. Hydro Quebec has since cut them down. Photo by Louise Chenevert.

    One objective of Parc Meadowbrook, in addition to preserving the existing century-old trees, is to renaturalize this 57 hectare treasure for the recreational use and aesthetic appreciation of the citizens of Montreal.

    Parc Meadowbrook lies in the Upper St Lawrence – Lower Ottawa Valley zone of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest Region of Canada.  This is the lowland through which the waters of the Great Lakes system drain.  Native species in the lowland are predominantly deciduous: sugar maple, beech, red maple, yellow birch, basswood, white ash, largetooth aspen, and red and bur oaks as well as local occurrences of white oak, red ash, grey birch, rock elm, blue-beech and bitternut hickory.  White elm was once prominent but has been almost eradicated by Dutch elm disease.  Butternut, eastern cottonwood and slippery elm occur sporadically in river valleys and some pure stands of black maple and silver maple may be found in patches where soil is especially fertile.  In poorly-drained depressions, black ash is prominent. On shallow, acidic, eroding slopes or uplands, conifers may be found, particularly eastern hemlock, eastern white pine, white spruce and balsam fir. Eastern white pine and red pine may be present and, in wet or rocky sites, black spruce and eastern white cedar are found.

    In addition to the large, old silver maple, white elm and basswood trees that grace the prairie of Meadowbrook, there are also several introduced species that are now naturalized in Canada, notably Norway maple, Siberian elm and crack willow. A number of other indigenous species grow along the tracks that bisect Meadowbrook, including bur oak, black cherry, ironwood, bitternut hickory and shagbark hickory.

    Indigenous Trees Present on Meadowbrook

     On the prairie

    Silver maple (Acer saccharinum): Medium sized to large trees, up to 35m high, 100 cm in diameter and 130 years old.

    White elm (Ulmus americana): One of the largest trees of eastern Canada, maturing up to 35 m high, 175 cm in diameter and 200 years old. When growing in the open, is easily recognized by its graceful branching and vase- or umbrella-shaped crown with drooping branch tips. Dutch elm disease has destroyed large populations of white elm across eastern North America.

    Basswood, also known as linden and whitewood (Tilia americana): Large trees with straight trunk growing up to 35 m high, 100 cm in diameter and 200 years old. Often found in groups, several sprouts having grown around the stump of a parental tree.  The wood is soft and light, tough and even-textured once important for canoe-building.

    1. Along the tracks

    Bitternut Hickory or Swamp Hickory (Carya cordiformis): The most widespread Canadian hickory.  Medium-sized trees, up to 25 m high, 50 cm in diameter, and 150 years old.  Grows on moist lowlands and rich soils mixed with other deciduous trees.  Wood used for giving hickory-smoked flavour to hams and bacon.

    Shagbark Hickory or Upland Hickory (Carya ovate): Medium-sized trees up to 25m high, 60 cm in diameter and 200 years old. On rich, moist soils mixed with other deciduous trees. Edible nut. A main source of food for squirrels.

    Black cherry (Prunus serotina): Medium-sized trees, up to 22 m high, 60 cm in diameter and 150 years old.  Fast-growing in a variety of soils.  Mixes well with other deciduous trees. Shallow root system produces a taproot in the first year. Wood used in furniture building.

    Bur oak or Blue oak or Mossy cup oak (Quercus macrocarpa): The most common native white oak.  Small trees up to 15 m high, 60 cm in diameter, and 200 years old.

    Ironwood or Hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana): Small trees, up to 12 m high and 25 cm diameter.  Very shade-tolerant; commonly found in the understory of deciduous forests.  The strong wood is used for tool handles.

    Here are more species that could be part of the renaturalization of Meadowbrook. They were identified in an inventory carried by Les Amis du parc Meadowbrook in 2005-06:

    Alternate-Leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

    Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoids)

    Northern Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

    Vibernum (Caprifoliaceae, Honeysuckle family)

    Hawthorn (Crataegus, Rose family)

    Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

    Black ash, or Swampy ash (Fraxinus nigra)

    Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

    White elder (Sambucus Canadensis, Honeysuckle family)

    Black willow (Salix nigra)

    Hybrid Poplar (Populus xjackii)

    Mountain Ash, or Dogberry (Sorbus)

    Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

    Birch (Betula)

    Serviceberry (Amelanchier)

    The dogwood, vibernum, hawthorn, sumac, elder, dogberry and serviceberry are particularly interesting for their production of small fruit to feed birds and other fauna.