It is a question we ask ourselves very often before going for a walk in nature.

As the popularity of winter hikes increases, more and more products and accessories are available for sale to help make our experience more enjoyable. From walking poles to cleats to snowshoes to backpacks with first aid kits or water bottles, the variety of equipment is huge.
But for now let’s limit the talk to cleats (also called crampons) and snowshoes.
By definition cleats come in a variety of styles for use on city sidewalks to mountain hiking. For walking on a nature trail, ask the retailer to show you the middle range especially made for hiking. The cleats or studs are slightly more accentuated than the city sidewalk version.
Cleats are great to keep in your car, handy to have on hand (and foot). However they can rust easily, so remember to dry them well after use.
The Massawippi Trail is well travelled.  Most of the time the trail is hard packed with snow in the winter. As people are walking even after a fresh snowfall, you will find the snow to be trodden unless you are an early bird. This is the perfect venue for cleats which will give you good traction (except on sheer ice where nothing really helps, except possibly a prayer). We know they are popular because our wooden stairs down to Ethan’s beach got a bit chewed up last winter. This year those steps have thick rubber mats to protect the wood and the brave or curious who go down to see the lake in winter. Beautiful.
Often people choose to walk on the trails with snowshoes which has a long tradition in Quebec and provides a different exercise experience.
Snowshoes are designed to help distribute your weight when walking on thick, deep snow. They are designed for flat terrain. It is true that they help your grip but what about the stairs? There are so many stairs on the trails, from wooden ones to combined  stone and wood. Also steep downward pitches are not easy to walk across. How do you navigate those with snowshoes?
Whatever footwear you choose to use in winter, please remember to stay on the trails. This is a conservation area, winter or summer there are precious plants and wildlife all around. Resist the temptation to walk into the deep snow, off trail.  It is a very big terrain, close to 1,000 acres. By staying on the trails you won’t get lost and stranded.
Some people advise that you should carry both types of gear when hiking. For the Massawippi Trails, snowshoes are the best if there has just been a big snowfall but otherwise probably cleats or simple boots with good treads are fine. Check the weather and make your decision accordingly.

In the words of a local writer when asked about snowshoes or cleats, he replied
“Snowshoeing is for people who like to walk but with an added layer of difficulty.”
For more humorous stories look for Ross Murray’s book A Jerk in Progress…a story with a happy ending, “We could have died out there!”

Enjoy your walk.   Leave no trace.

Jane seen here tagging the property with Appalachian Corridor biologist.

Jane is an outdoor enthusiast who loves nature and walking. You can see her striding through the village and walking on our trails year round. She has always loved walking and especially enjoys showing her visitors the Massawippi Trails when they come to stay in the region.
She is as intimately entwined in the history of North Hatley as is fellow board member Tom Wilcox. Jane is a permanent resident of North Hatley since retiring from her law career with the Federal government. Born in Sherbrooke, she grew up in Montreal and spent all of her summers in the village. Her great grand-father’s family bought their first summer home here back in 1920. Jane remembers summers spent in her family home, enjoying the independence which came with her 3 ½ horse power boat which she took across the lake each day to reach the North Hatley Club. In the 1960’s her father bought a large farm property in the Canton de Hatley where he planted trees and conserved the land. It was here that she took long walks with him and sometimes explored the land on horseback. She came back regularly to the property in the late 1990’s when she built some trails for walking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
Jane became involved with the Massawippi Foundation fairly early on as the Board was being formed in 2012. She was invited to join in 2013 and today she is its Chair. The passion and respect of the original group is as strong today as it ever was. None of them are environmentalists, but they all share a deep love for the natural beauty of the region and want to do what they can to protect it for future generations.
When asked if she found the area had changed over the years she says, “Not really, the buildings haven’t changed, only the businesses on the inside.”  She remembered the general store and hardware where the Pilson now stands, Earl’s was the Dep, and the Hob Nob, (now the Mercantile) where her family always picked up hot dogs and fries for supper when arriving from Montreal on Friday nights. Of course LeBaron’s was and still remains today.” The biggest change was when the railway was sold.” Thinking back she remembers when she used to walk along the tracks to get from one side of the village to the other, sometimes jumping off the bridge into the water, in order not to get run over by the noontime train. The walkway and gazebo are what remain today. A lovely place to get a view of the lake and the ridge behind it.
When the Sentier Massawippi opened its trails, Jane was there with her sister. She realized then that this would be the special place to walk keeping in mind that George Wardman Sr. had been a good friend of her Father. The Meagher farm property was sold in 2018 and Jane and her husband Jean bought an Airstream thereby joining a new community. Their choice reflects their love of nature. The Sentier Massawippi trails in North Hatley and Sainte- Catherine, are her preferred local places to walk. She likes the beauty of the trail and the views of the lake. Jane makes sure to speak about the Foundation and its conservation mission with visitors.
When asked if she is an environmentalist, conservationist, or nature lover, Jane chooses the latter, saying she loves nature and tries to do her bit to help the planet and her community. Her son has recently bought a property in the area and so the family tradition is continuing.

View our February 2022 newsletter on Mailchimp


By Marie-José Auclair, President of Appalachian Corridor’s Board of Directors

Although hiking is a low-impact activity for the environment, our behaviours while enjoying the trails can sometimes be devastating and lead to permanent impacts on surrounding flora and fauna. Garbage, fires in forbidden areas, improvised bathrooms in the bushes, and loud hikers; all of these disturbances can unfortunately be damaging to natural habitats and spoil our intimate contact with nature. The principles of the program Leave No Trace (www.leavenotrace. ca) offer an outdoor code of conduct adopted by more than 90 countries and suggest the adoption of key behaviours for the practice of our activities on foot, on bikes, on skis or in kayaks in order to leave natural habitats intact
Appalachian Corridor encourages the adoption of the following seven principles from Leave No Trace:
• Plan ahead and prepare for the unexpected in order to have a safe and pleasant experience.
• To avoid damaging the vegetation and reduce erosion, travel only on established and durable surfaces, and camp on designated sites.
• Dispose of waste properly and don’t leave any items behind.
• Leave what you discover intact so that others may enjoy it too in its most natural state.
• Minimize campfire impacts and preferably use a lightweight stove as a heat source.
• Respect wildlife and avoid disturbing animals, especially during the delicate periods of mating, nesting, or raising young.
• Be considerate of other visitors by limiting excessive noises, let nature’s sounds prevail so that all can enjoy their experience.

Reproduced with the permission of Appalachian Corridor, our partners in conservation.

You own land on the Massawippi Conservation Trust (MCT) territory of action? You are interested in learning more about ecological gifts and the tax benefits you could enjoy? You are curious whether there are prerequisites or fees to this program? What are the resources available to support your conservation project? What type of servitude would allow you to retain ownership of the land while still enjoying tax benefits?

The MCT is the only registered charity in our region certified by Revenue Canada and Environment Canada to acquire and assume stewardship responsibilities for conserved property.
There are four ways to conserve land in Quebec:
1. Fee simple donation – Property is protected in perpetuity and the landowner is no longer responsible for real estate taxes. Under the Ecological Gift Program, a charitable receipt is issued for the fair market value of the property, if eligible, which includes federal and provincial tax credits and no capital gains taxes on the donated property.
2. Real conservation servitude – The landowner retains ownership and chooses which parts of his property will be under servitude. Servitude is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization under which certain activities are restricted (e.g. subdivision, construction of roads, certain forestry activities). Servitudes may also be eligible for the Ecological Gift Program.
3. Nature reserve on private land – The landowner retains ownership and chooses which part of his property will be under reserve status. A nature reserve must have ecological value, and is a legal agreement between a landowner and the MDDEP (Ministère du Développement Durable, de l’Environment et des Parcs) under which certain activities are restricted (same examples as above). Tax benefits include a reduction of municipal taxes and abrogation of school taxes on the reserved land, but do not include income tax credits.
4. Sell the land to a conservation organization – The landowner receives fair market value for the property, but remains liable for capital gains and receives no tax credits.
Once conserved, the land will be protected in perpetuity by the conservation organization.
The MCT will pay for notary fees to transfer land and/or conservation servitudes, land assessment fees to determine fair market value and capital gain, and ecological assessments to help donors qualify for the federal EcoGift Program. The Trust will also pay municipal taxes on conserved land, monitor the health of natural habitats within conserved properties, ensure that donors’ wishes are respected, and maintain up-to-date liability insurance for approved walking and ski and snowshoeing trails, where applicable.

Would you like more information about conserving land with the Massawippi Conservation Trust?

Contact us at 819 679 5081 or by email
We would be happy to chat with you and reply to your questions
Hélène Hamel
Directrice exécutive
Margot Graham Heyerhoff
Présidente de la Fondation Massawippi Foundation (FMF) and Trustee of the Massawippi Conservation Trust (MCT)

To learn more about the Ecological Gift Program with the Federal government:
Ecological Gift Program