Lake Bernard    
Lake Bernard Lake Bernard Lake Bernard



The shallows of a lake are crucial to the healthy habitat of fish, frogs and crayfish. To protect the shallows, please note that permanent concrete docks and retaining walls are prohibited by law, and only permanent docks allowed by Environment Quebec and holding an appropriate municipal permit can be constructed.

The native grasses, shrubs and trees that grow along the first 5 meters of shoreline of a lake or waterway serve as an excellent and essential barrier to curb erosion and to trap nutrients during run-off. Naturally occurring nutrients and those from human activities (such as phosphates) can cause serious deterioration in lake water quality.

Shade from trees at the shoreline helps to cool the shallows, which in turn helps to encourage fish spawning. If your shoreline has a lawn running down to the shore of the lake and no shoreline shrubs, we encourage you to regenerate it to a more natural state by planting native shrubs and trees.

We strongly discourage cottagers from building retaining walls, but where they exist, it helps to plant shoreline shrubs on top as the roots of the shrubs help protect the lake and stabilize the wall.

Some basic rules of thumb:

• interfere as little as possible with natural shoreline growth

• do not remove or cut back trees and shrubs on the first 5 meters from the lake shore,  except, for example, where absolutely necessary to provide access to the lake

• encourage shoreline regeneration

• provide a view of the lake from our cottages, not by cutting down or topping trees, but instead by permitting the trees to grow and only cutting branches that restrict our view

An extensive shoreline evaluation of our lake was completed in 1988. Each year from 1988 to 1993, Environment Quebec, in conjunction with FAPEL (Federation of Associations for the Protection of the Environment of Lakes)—a group of lake cottager’s associations in Quebec—sponsored planting days at Lac Bernard. More than 10,000 native shrubs were planted on more than 50 different properties in need of regeneration. The effect of these efforts by dedicated cottagers can be seen today at many locations around the lake.

MRC des Collines de l’Outaouais Control By-law No. 137-09

The Council of Mayors of the MRC des Collines de l'Outaouais adopted Control By-law No. 137-09 to set out provisions for protecting the shorelines of lakes and watercourses. (see (french only)..

The primary objective of Control By-law No. 137-09 is to get shoreline property owners to renaturalize the shorelines of lakes and watercourses. The By-Law applies to all municipalities belonging to the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais (art. 4), with the exception of Crown forests (art. 5) and will be applied when building permits are authorized.

The leaflet that outlines the main provisions of the By-law can be read here.

Shoreline erosion caused by boat wake

For a study on the effects of boat wake and what you can do, please see: Erosion_des_berges_En.pdf

Possible native plants to use for regeneration

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus Stolonifera)  shoreline

This shrub with dark red branches is not only very attractive in the winter, but birds will love the fruit. This shrub averages one and a half to two metres in size and has pretty white flowers in late May and white bluish fruit in late summer. This shrub can endure flooding for periods up to a month. A very adaptable plant, it grows well in clay or wet soils, hilly terrain and poorly drained areas, as well as dry regions. In addition to a well developed root system, its low branches can also produce new roots. It is thus an excellent plant for soil retention and for stopping erosion.

Large Leaf Meadowsweet (Filipendula palmata) shoreline

This shrub reaches a height of one metre and is commonly known as the „tea of Canada. With plumed head and pink and white flowers in the spring, this shrub needs light and will not endure if planted among the undergrowth. It can be found all over Ontario, primarily on the banks of waterways in colder regions.

Shrubby Willow (Salix) shoreline

Perfect where ice movement is a problem. The willow's flexible stem can survive this stress. The gray-green foliage provides an attractive presentation in the summer and bright bark in the winter. Its ability to thrive in poor soils and wet conditions plus develop new roots makes it particularly useful for shoreline plantings and stabilization of banks. Can reach a height of one to two meters.

Virginia Creeper shoreline

Excellent as ground cover on slopes and other areas, it is not sensitive to soil types and conditions. Good for shady areas, the creeper is a climbing plant that can reach a length of 15 metres. It appears on the banks of waterways in colder regions.

Further information on plant species, a shoreline classification manual, contacts, can be found on Maple Inc.'s website:

Shoreline Plant Nursery in la Haute Gatineau

Nature-Vallée, a division of the Société Sylvicole de la Haute-Gatineau, located in Messines offers a wide range of plants, shrubs and trees. All are indigenous to Quebec and are known to be effective as shoreline vegetation for restoring the shoreline and reducing erosion. The annual catalogue contains descriptions of the plants and photos. Shrubs and trees are principally sold in one gallon containers, for ease of transplanting. In addition, alternative sizes, such as 110 mL and 350 mL are available.

The order form is available here. The nursery is open all week long but only on appointment. Please feel free to contact us, our phone number and address are listed below.

In addition, ‘Shoreline Revival Workshops' can be provided by the staff where both theoretical and practical information on shoreline revegetation is offered. Shoreline restoration and stabilisation plans can be produced as well.

Annie Parent and Andrée-Anne Lafontaine Paul
Société Sylvicole de la Haute-Gatineau
145, route 105
Messines, Québec, J0X 2J0
Téléphone : 819-449-4105, poste 234
Télécopie : 819-449-7077
Messagerie : et

2012 Snapshot of the Lake Bernard shoreline

Lake Bernard is a highly utilized lake with over 400 properties bordering the lake, many motor boats and an active wildlife population. The lake is under pressure. Already considerable efforts are being made to reduce the negative impact of septic systems on the lake and the lake water quality monitoring shows that the lake water has very low ecoli levels overall and excellent ecoli levels in front of the vast majority of the cottages where sampling has been done so far. The lake also has low levels of total phosphorus and high transparency which indicates that the overall lake water quality is good. 

The overall health of Lake Bernard depends on the shoreline – which is the most critical part of a lake’s ecosystem. By recording a snapshot of Lake Bernard’s shoreline in 2012, the Association has not undertaken an analysis and assessment of the health or state of the shoreline. The Association can:

  1. identify where there are problems to provide the basis for discussions of what, if any, further efforts could be undertaken to promote the health of the lake into the future; and
  2. be prepared to compare the shoreline from 2012 with the past and future changes.

The 2012 Shoreline report describes the following through photography and in writing with maps:

1. the Shoreline of Lake Bernard classified according to a categorization established
based on the extent of the shoreline’s alteration;
2. Areas of shoreline erosion;
3. Evidence of beavers;
4. The state of the inlet to and outlet from the lake; and
5. Areas in the lake of dense aquatic weeds.

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