St. Leonard cave formed during the Ice Age may become tourist attraction

St. Leonard cave

St. Leonard cave – Did you know Montreal is not known as a city of caves and in the eastern Montreal borough of St. Leonard, such a cave does exist. It was formed during the Ice Age as a result of glacial movements that created fissures in the limestone rock. This ancient cave was first discovered in 1812 by a local farmer, and was later used as a storage depot for weapons and ammunition during the 1837 Rebellion. In 1980, the cave welcomed visitors for the first time, and has become a favourite of cave explorers (or spelunkers).

St. Leonard cave
St. Leonard cave

Where is the St. Leonard cave?

And now, 15,000 years after its formation, the St. Leonard Cave, located in what is now Pie XII Park, is being eyed as a potential tourist site. 

Luc Le Blanc, and avid spelunker, speleologist and member of Speleo Quebec, discovered a new underground passage in the cave back in 2017, and would like the potential attraction, a joint proposed project of both the borough and Speleo Quebec, to draw more tourists and visitors there. The cave, which its 2017 discovery was reported about by such international journalism outlets as the BBC and National Geographic, currently attracts about 4,000 visitors a year; it is also a registered historical site with the federal government.

St. Leonard cave

“If the interpretation centre is built as we suggested it, it would enclose the entrance. And that would solve the problem of the cold winter air freezing the entrance … it would makes visits (possible) year round,” said Mr. Le Blanc during a recent interview with CBC News. He added that the organization would like to teach people, whether they be local residents or tourists, about what makes this cavern so unique.

Municipal councilor Dominic Perri described to CBC News how environmentally friendly the proposed building would be. “It would be a pavilion that is carbon neutral, with a green roof … geothermal heating, water recuperation, solar panels.” As well, it would contain ladders, handholds and other safety features for the segment of the cave that was discovered four years ago.

According to CBC News, the proposed cave project is still in the early stages of development, and should be adapted into the next borough budget. Mr. Perri stated that they would like the City of Montreal to help cover the costs for the project; but so far, it hasn’t responded to their requests. The borough also submitted an application for funding with Infrastructure Canada.

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