According to a recent survey taken of Quebecers living in the province’s two largest cities, Montreal and Québec, the favourite place to go for a picnic in the province are the Plains of Abraham.
The Plains of Abraham, also known as Battlefields Park, was the scene of a historic battle in 1759 between the French army and the British army and navy.
Overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, the Plains of Abraham are a strategic defense zone, as they offer a panoramic view of the surrounding area including both up and down the river. The area overlooks a steep incline and, from a military point of view, offers a high level of protection for those who need to defend it. The military fortifications already in place at the edge of the plains, ownership of the land belonging to the federal government on behalf of national defense and a convent of nuns established on the lands have ensured and continue to ensure that the area remains a pristine piece of land untouched by urban sprawl.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the idea of public gardens as a place where the local residents of the city could relax was a new and increasingly popular concept. At the time, any city desirous of an international reputation had to set aside an area for a large and imposing public garden. Cities that deserved the reputation, such as New York (Central Park in 1857) in the United States and Paris (Bois de Vincennes in 1855) in Europe, set aside large urban green spaces for city dwellers. In the case of London, royal gardens in the southwestern part of the city were opened to the public (Richmond Park 1851).
The historic theater of the battle that played out on the Plains of Abraham is a place of history and one to be remembered by future generations of Quebecers and Canadians. After several talks that were held in the late nineteenth century between the committees of citizens of Quebec City, who initiated the idea and the provincial and federal branches of government, who owned the land on behalf of national defense, it became a public space. It took time to decide how the landscaped architecture would work, as well as how the subsequent maintenance of the lands would be financed. The government of the city of Québec took charge of the project. It wasn’t until 1908 that the area that had been the battlefield got the official authorization to be open to the public, as a place where the denizens of and the tourists visiting Québec City could trek and enjoy nature. Yet, many changes were still to take place in the overall look of the locale, with the construction of a greenhouse in 1916 and 1917, the arrival of the underground reservoir in the 1930s and the destruction of the military barracks nearby Cove Fields in the 1950s.
The Plains of Abraham offer a simple yet rewarding outdoor activity in a wonderful and historic 108-hectare setting. A picnic will leave you feeling mesmerized by the bucolic charm of a space just moments from the heart of Quebec City. Enjoy the huge park that was once a battlefield, nestled along the bank of the Saint Lawrence River with beautiful views of the city of Lévis on the river’s South Shore and the Island of Orléans in plain view just a few kilometers downstream.
For a picnic getaway, the Plains of Abraham are an idyllic setting. Harmony, tranquility, the singing of birds, squirrels and flowers… There is so much to see after your picnic. And, if you would like to enjoy the sounds of nature, the shade of the majestic trees or a few minutes of sunbathing, you may fancy a walk with your lover on the trails or through the grassy valleys. The experience is sure to leave you feeling fully revitalized.