By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I'm planning a family trip to Montreal. That side is covered. But, I'd like to visit the environs. Any suggestions are appreciated.

A: Amid a valley of gently rolling hills of green, along the Riviere des Milles-Iles (literally the Thousand Islands River), Laval has been attracting travellers for centuries. In 1876, the saying, "going up north" meant going on a holiday. The train unloaded Montreal vacationers on Ile Jesus.

Today, the peace and quiet that attracted visitors from yesteryear to Laval continues.

Home to racoons, bullfrogs and bass, this Canadian bayou known as Parc de la Riviere des Mille-Iles provides vacationers with a wildlife sanctuary covering 26 hectares which interestingly enough spreads over 10 islands.

Ten forest ecosystems have been identified here, giving families a chance to explore the ecology. Choose from boats, canoes, pedal boats or even the ancient rabaska canoe as a way to roam through the largest natural park in the greater Montreal area.

Since Laval is only a 20 minute drive north of Montreal, you may wish to explore the other activities available here. The Cosmodome which houses both the Space Science Centre and Space Camp Canada is perfect for kids and parents. You can observe microscopic beings that seem like characters from a sci-fi movie.

Space Camp Canada provides half day to full week programs for families and children 9 to 14. Prepare to exercise like NASA astronauts as you experience weightlessness and walk on the moon. There's even a chance to pilot the Endeavour Space Shuttle!

For more info contact Space Camp Canada at 1.800.565.2267 or visit Space For other travel info on Laval, contact Tourisme Laval at 1.877.GO LAVAL, 1.877.465.2825 or visit Tourisme Laval.


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