The Gault Nature Reserve of McGill University protects 1,000 hectares of primeval forest in the St. Lawrence Valley. Situated at Mont-Saint-Hilaire, approximately 40 km from Montreal, this panoramic landscape is ideal for teaching and university research and for discovering nature. The property passed to McGill University in 1958 through a bequest from Brigadier Andrew Hamilton Gault, specifying: “that its beauties and amenities may be preserved for all time to come, not only to the immediate interests of the university itself, but through its corridors of learning, as a great heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the youth of Canada.”
Since 1958, the reserve has been used for teaching and research by various departments of the University while continuing to provide recreational opportunities to local residents and the general public. The site was designated and protected under federal statutes as a migratory bird refuge in 1960. In 1970, the University commissioned the Audubon Society to prepare a detailed report on management of the property, which recommended creation of a non-profit, community-based organization to facilitate the long-term protection called for in the Gault bequest.
Alice Johannsen, the University's director of what was then called the Gault Estate, acted on this recommendation and founded the Mont St. Hilaire Nature Conservation Centre in 1972, which remains the university’s principal partner in conservation of the mountain and in public education in the area of conservation and sustainability. In 1978 the property was recognized as the core of the Mont-St-Hilaire Biosphere Reserve, the first Canadian site in an international network of over 300 biosphere reserves protected under the aegis of the United Nations. In 2000, the Gault Estate was renamed the Gault Nature Reserve by the university and in 2004 was officially recognized and protected under the Natural Heritage Conservation Act by the Québec Ministère du développement durable.
Affiliated with the Faculty of Science of McGill University, the Gault team offers support to research and teaching in all academic disciplines while providing a wide range of services to both the university community and the general public.
The public area, with 25 km of trail network, is open 365 days a year. Maps and information on courses, facilities and events at Gault Nature Reserve.
martin.lechowicz [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. Martin Lechowicz) , Director
Faculty of Science