Montreal, Quebec, Canada - August 30 2021 : Aerial view of Montreal Biosphere in summer sunny day. Jean-Drapeau park, Saint Helens Island.; Shutterstock ID 2057296256; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update


Île Ste-Hélène


This island in the St Lawrence River still bears interesting traces of its use as a World War II prison camp, a fort and a 1967 World's Fair. Today you can take public transport, a car, bike or walk from the mainland to the island's many attractions, which include an amusement park at the north of the island, an old fort in the middle, and World Fair gardens and a biosphere to the southeast.

Giant amusement park La Ronde, owned by US-based Six Flags, has bone-shaking thrill rides, including Le Splash, which will leave you soaked, Le Monstre, the world's highest wooden roller coaster and Le Vampire, a suspended coaster with five gut-wrenching loops. There's also a good assortment of kiddie rides, live shows and a minirail with good river and city views. In July to early August, the park hosts fireworks as part of L'International des Feux Loto-Québec on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

Near La Ronde stands an old fort built in the 19th century by the British to defend Montréal from an attack by the Americans. Inside the stone ramparts is the Musée Stewart, where a collection of old maps, documents, navigational equipment, firearms and other artifacts traces the early days of Canada. Seasonal activities include a 'game' of recreating island-escape attempts by World War II prisoners! A glass tower offers views across the Montréal mainland.

Walkways meander around the island, past gardens and among the old pavilions from the World's Fair. One of them, the American pavilion in the spherical Bucky Fuller dome, has become the Biosphère. Using hands-on displays, this center explains the Great Lakes-St Lawrence River ecosystem, which makes up 20% of the planet's fresh water reserves; demonstrates sustainable living and low energy consumption; and provides tours of a self-sufficient, solar-powered home. There's a great view of the river from the Visions Hall.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Montréal attractions

1. Musée Stewart

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Inside the old Arsenal British garrison (where troops were stationed in the 19th century), this beautifully renovated museum displays relics from Canada’s…

2. Parc Jean-Drapeau

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Occupying the site of the hugely successful 1967 World's Fair, Parc Jean-Drapeau consists of two islands surrounded by the St Lawrence River: Île Ste…

3. Biosphère

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Housed in Buckminster Fuller’s striking geodesic dome built for the American pavilion at Expo '67 World Fair, this nature center has its own geothermal…

4. L'Homme

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This huge sculpture was created by famed artist Alexander Calder for Expo '67.

5. La Ronde

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Québec’s largest amusement park, La Ronde has a battery of impressive rides, including Le Monstre, the world’s highest double wooden roller coaster, and…

6. Tour de l’Horloge


At the eastern edge of the historic port stands the 45m-high white Clock Tower. This precise clock, a replica of Big Ben in London, commemorates all of…

7. Île Ste-Hélène


Created from 15 million tons of earth and rock excavated when the metro was built, Île Notre-Dame is laced with canals and pretty garden walkways. The…

8. Église St-Pierre-Apôtre

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Located in the Village, this neoclassical church from 1853 has a number of fine decorations – flying buttresses, stained glass, statues in Italian marble …