From snowmobiles to a nature reserve: the Bombardier family donates land in Kingsbury
From left to right: Jean-Louis Fontaine, Joël Bonin (NCC), Laurent Beaudoin, Dr. Sadok Besrour, Serge Bombardier, J. R. André Bombardier, Huguette Bombardier Fontaine, Claire Bombardier Beaudoin, Janine Bombardier, Éric Rondeau (NCC QC board member), Violette Dagenais, David Blair (NCC QC board chair) and Martha Hervieux (mayor of Kingsbury) (Photo by NCC)
Bombardier has come a long way since 1936, when mechanic Joseph-Armand Bombardier invented the “snow vehicle,” to the delight of Quebecers. From its humble beginnings, the company has evolved into a world class multinational — proof that innovation, passion and motivation can lead to great success, both in business . . . and nature conservation! But what is the connection between snowmobiles and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)? It so happens that in 1946, Joseph-Armand purchased properties in Kingsbury to build a dam that would generate electricity for his factory in Valcourt, as well as to test his tracked vehicles — like the snowmobile — that served to transport wood through forests in the 1950s.
Today, Joseph-Armand’s heirs are sharing their success with the community by donating some of this land to NCC in order to protect its incredible biodiversity! Named the Joseph-Armand-Bombardier Nature Reserve, this beautiful natural area is open to locals and visitors alike.
“For as long as I and my sisters, Janine, Huguette and Claire, can remember, people have been coming here to take in the beautiful natural surroundings. After everything the community has contributed to Bombardier over the years, we’re honoured to make this area fully protected and accessible to the public — forever!” states André Bombardier.
One of the first ever entrances to Les Sentiers de l’Estrie was in Kingsbury, which is not surprising, since the Bombardier family has always granted right of way to trails on its property and supported NCC’s mission. The family recently donated three properties to NCC totalling 439 hectares — the equivalent of 2,768 hockey rinks — allowing us to reach a new conservation milestone. These magnificent, wooded properties feature plenty of trails that hikers can continue to enjoy. Our welcome panels at the entrance to the Kingsbury Marsh trail provide information about the nature reserve, including a trail map.
“My family has been visiting this area since I was four years old. The green trees, clear water and pure air are an integral part of our memories. We want to give future generations the chance to create their memories here as well,” explains Mr. Bombardier.
A total of 11% of this magnificent natural environment consists of wetlands, home to more than one hundred species of aquatic birds, as well as amphibians (frogs and salamanders) whose survival is threatened by the loss of natural habitat. Kingsbury Marsh, surrounded by one of the properties, is a natural gem well worth seeing – one which NCC is delighted to have bordering its new nature reserve.
This protected area — an essential part of the northern Green Mountains ecological corridor linking the mountains of Vermont with the Parc national du Mont-Orford — allows for the safe movement and survival of wide-ranging species like the lynx. Black bear and moose tracks have also been spotted here. Keep your eyes peeled during your next visit!
Land donations like this one, known as ecological gifts, are part of a federal program that provides significant tax benefits to donors. Support from the public is extremely valuable to NCC. We are grateful to all who help to protect nature — from hikers who pick up their garbage, to volunteers who share their passion for biodiversity, to the Bombardier family who has offered this generous gift.
Conservation is the work of many hands. Thank you to all our partners involved in this project.
NCC is carrying out this project in sync with the work of our local partners to protect the region’s natural areas, Appalachian Corridor and The Société de conservation du corridor naturel de la rivière au Saumon.
The book "Regards sur l'histoire de Kingsbury et de New Rockland" by Denis Gauvin will tell you more about Joseph-Armand Bombardier’s legacy in Kingsbury village. Contact the municipality for more information.