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Posted on September 20, 2016

Feel like doing something different? Daily routine starting to get you down? Via Route presents an amazing activity most Montrealers don’t even know about. A cave you can visit right in the city. No need to leave the island! The cave is in Pie XII Park in Saint-Léonard.(sous-titres de la section)

sign site cavernicole

Here’s the board that warns people of the Cave site.
Picture credit : Société québécoise de spéléologie

A bit of history

Saint-Léonard Cave is glaciotectonic in origin. That means it was formed by the pressure of the ice during the Ice Age. So its limestone fossils are more than 450 million years old! But the public didn’t know the cave existed until 1815 when an article on it was published in Le Spectateur newspaper.

After that, Montrealers started visiting the cave, and many scientists took an interest in it. Not until 1979 did municipal authorities recognize this magnificent site, which in 1980 became an official landmark. The Montreal Urban Community declared it a heritage site of regional interest in 1988.

The cave

There are lots of legends about the cave. It is said that Aboriginal peoples dwelled there many years ago. And that it was used by patriot soldiers in 1837 to store weapons. But no traces of an Aboriginal campground, patriot weapons, or missionaries have yet been found. Nicknamed the “fairy hole,” the cave is 35 meters long, with an 8-meter drop. The entrance leads directly to an impressive rectangular space 3 meters wide, 13 meters long, and 2 meters high. Go and explore it for yourself!

how narrow the cave is

The picture shows how narrow is the cave
Picture credit : Société québécoise de spéléologie

Visiting the cave

Before going inside the cave, visitors are treated to a presentation on its origin. It’s a chance to unlock some of the mysteries surrounding the formation of geological treasures during the Ice Age. Then begins a 105-minute tour underneath Montreal. Walk on stones shaped by the ice and touch limestone that’s one hundred million years old! Guides will unveil all the mysteries of the formation of geological features. You can climb down fixed ladders into a shaft 5 meters deep—and the bravest can slide to the bottom of the cave.

Plan ahead!

The cave takes reservations and required payment two weeks in advance, and the annual visiting period is limited (May 19 to August 15). It may be hot outside, but you can expect cool temperatures underground. The temperature averages 5°C, so plan to wear a long-sleeve shirt, pants, boots, and gloves, and don’t forget the camera!/p>

plan of the cave

Here’s a plan of the Saint-Léonard Cave
Picture credit : Société québécoise de spéléologie

Did you know?

Saint-Léonard Cave is not a cavern! It is made of limestone, but not from the dissolution of limestone by water like a cavern. The ice pressure is what has made spectacular Saint-Léonard Cave so beautiful. All caverns are caves, but not all caves are caverns! There were many caves like this one on Montreal Island, but most had to be buried during urban development.

Come see us at the Via Route branch near the cave for all your transportation needs. You can also reserve online at the following address: Click here

This highly popular Montreal gem is certainly worth a look!

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