Kenauk, Quebec (Photo by Kenauk Nature)

Kenauk, Quebec (Photo by Kenauk Nature)

Keep Kenauk Wild

November 16, 2022
Montebello, Outaouais, QC


Nature Conservancy of Canada and Kenauk Institute to create an open-air research lab

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Kenauk Institute (KI) are joining forces to create a permanent open-air lab devoted to studying the impacts of climate change in Kenauk.

NCC and KI are partnering in a unique campaign to ensure Kenauk is not only protected for the long term, but that this natural, 25,000-hectare gem is also dedicated to natural sciences and educating future generations. By partnering with universities and public stakeholders, we’re creating an expansive laboratory dedicated to research located in a temperate forest. This project was possible thanks to significant financial contributions from Age of Union Alliance and Inovia Capital.

The families of Doug Harpur, Dominic Monaco, Patrick Pichette and Mike Wilson — co-founders of KI — donated half of their lakeside properties to NCC to create a protected area with the 645-hectare tract of land. They have pledged to donate the other half of their land to protect this territory in perpetuity. The donation of 645 hectares was completed as part of NCC's Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels, for which the Government of Quebec provided financial assistance and by the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund.

Located between Montreal and Gatineau, and easily accessible by highway, this land is particularly vulnerable to development. The families saw the necessity to protect this area, which falls within an ecological corridor linking Plaisance and Mont-Tremblant provincial parks. In addition to offering a protected natural area, research and education for future generations, Kenauk is open to the general public year-round through Kenauk Nature outfitters.

Kenauk’s old-growth forests and wetlands house exceptional biodiversity, including rare and at-risk plant and animal species, such as black maple, which is designated as a vulnerable plant species under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species, and eastern wood-pewee, designated as a species of special concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA). Kenauk’s Lake Papineau is the source of the Salmon River (Kinonge River), whose pure water provides essential habitat for various fish species and maintains water quality.

NCC and KI are now launching a private capital campaign for the remaining $20 million necessary to ensure the 25,000-hectare Kenauk territory can be protected and stewarded by NCC and KI in perpetuity. Kenauk Institute co-founder, Inovia Capital associate and former Google CFO Patrick Pichette chairs the fundraising campaign.

More than 75 per cent of the $20-million goal is already secured, thanks to contributions from the four families, Age of Union and Inovia Capital. NCC and KI are now aiming to raise the remaining $5 million through individual and corporate donations.

To get involved, learn more or donate to the campaign, people can visit https://institutkenauk.org/donate/

The expansion of the Kenauk Nature Reserve is an example of the scale at which NCC is now working to deliver conservation outcomes. Emerging from partnerships with government and organizations, and with significant support from individuals, success demonstrates the whole-of-society approach essential to conserve the natural areas that are our life support systems. Protecting nature at scale is a tangible solution to counter biodiversity loss and climate change and ensure a nature-positive future.


“We recognize the unique and extraordinary ecological value of Lake Papineau and its surroundings, which unfortunately makes the lake a prime target for development. By handing our respective properties over to NCC, the area will now remain intact for the benefit of the community for generations to come. We can only accomplish this together.” – Doug Harpur, Dominic Monaco, Patrick Pichette, Mike Wilson, and their families, donors of land surrounding Papineau Lake and co-founders of KI.

“Thanks to the generosity of the four families and the broader Papineau Lake community—Kenauk’s centrepiece—is now protected. It’s very exciting news because of the rich biodiversity that inhabits its waters, shores, and forests all around it. We’re extremely grateful to our donors for enabling us to protect a growing amount of land in Kenauk.” Claire Ducharme, Vice President at the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Quebec

"We are honoured to help bring Kenauk Institute and the Nature Conservancy of Canada one step closer to reaching their goals for protecting, restoring and conserving Kenauk. With combined funds to conserve this land and build the new research lab, we can restore one the world's few remaining temperate old-growth forests and pristine wetlands, home to biodiverse, rare and at-risk plant and animal species. “ – Dax Dasilva, Founder of Age of Union

“These major land donations will help to protect important areas for numerous plant and wildlife species. The acquisitions will expand our network of protected areas and promote the conservation of biodiversity in Quebec. We are also thrilled about the creation of an outdoor lab, which will allow our scientific community to obtain relevant data. Congratulations to all the partners involved in this initiative, made possible by the Partenariat pour les milieux naturels (PPMN) project!” – Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment, the Fight Against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks; Minister Responsible for the Laurentides Region

“The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are two sides of the same coin, and we must tackle them together. By working with partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and The Kenauk Institute, we are helping to protect the natural environment in Quebec and across the country. Protecting lands plays a vital role in helping to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and contributes to the recovery of species at risk. Through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, the Government of Canada is making progress toward its goal of conserving a quarter of lands and oceans in Canada by 2025, working toward thirty percent of each by 2030.” – The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) is very proud to be a partner in this magnificent project providing professors, researchers and students in natural sciences access to Quebec’s largest outdoor laboratory in a temperate forest. The UQO’s Institute of Temperate Forest Sciences (ISFORT), in Ripon, is an asset for this teaching and research initiative. The agreement will allow us to carry out a variety of activities related to conservation and the adaptation of ecosystems to climate change.” – Murielle Laberge, Rector of the Université du Québec en Outaouais


This project was made possible thanks to the contributions of several partners. NCC extends its gratitude to:

  • The families of Doug Harpur, Dominic Monaco, Patrick Pichette and Mike Wilson for their land donations;
  • Inovia Capital;
  • Age of Union, for a considerable contribution of US$3 million over three years;
  • The Government of Quebec, which provided a grant of $53 million over four years, through its Partenariat pour les milieux naturels project;
  • The Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund;
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act);
  • The Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO).


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the country’s unifying force for nature. NCC seeks solutions to the twin crises of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change through large scale, permanent land conservation. As a trusted partner NCC works with people, communities, businesses and government to protect and care for our country’s most important natural areas. Since 1962, NCC has brought Canadians together to conserve and restore more than 15 million hectares.

The Kenauk Institute (KI) is a charitable organization in Montebello, QC, Canada, whose mission is to support, coordinate and supervise scientific research on the property of Kenauk and its surrounding area and to promote environmental education. The abundance and diversity of flora and fauna in combination with the property’s unique history as a pristine watershed and wildlife corridor provides endless opportunities for research, education, and conservation. The combination of research and environmental education plays a critical role in moving society towards a sustainable future. Our goal is to provide youth with a chance to connect with nature, so they grow up as leaders with the understanding and motivations to take responsible actions that incorporate conservation and sustainability.

Inovia Capital is a venture capital firm that partners with founders to build impactful and enduring global companies. The team leverages an operator-led mindset to provide founders with multistage support, mentorship, and access to a worldwide network. Inovia manages over US$2.2B with operations in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, San Francisco, and London. For more information, visit inovia.vc.

Age of Union is a non-profit environmental alliance that supports and makes visible a global community of change-makers working on-the-ground to protect the planet’s threatened species and ecosystems. Launched in October 2021 by tech leader and environmental activist Dax Dasilva in Montreal, Canada, Age of Union seeks to ignite a flame within every person through conservation efforts that solve critical environmental challenges around the world and inspire high-impact change by showing the positive impact that every individual can make.

The Projet de partenariat pour les milieux naturels (PPMN) is a four-year grant of more than $53 million from the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques to NCC. It provides support for voluntary conservation initiatives to ensure the protection of natural areas of interest by establishing financial partnerships with conservation organizations in the province. The PPMN thus aims to develop and consolidate Québec's network of protected areas located on private land. It follows the Ensemble pour la nature project, which ended on March 31, 2020, and had similar goals.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) is a program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a unique public-private partnership to support new protected and conserved areas by securing private lands and private interests in lands. The program is managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).  Federal funds invested in the program are matched with contributions raised by NCC and its partners, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the country’s land trust community. 

The Quebec Ecological Corridors Initiative proposes a collective approach to land use planning to increase the conservation of natural environments connected by ecological corridors. The Initiative aims to consolidate the commitment of municipal actors, woodlot owners, farmers and other key land use actors. To this end, mobilization, capacity building, recognition and action support activities are being carried out at the provincial level and in 11 regions of Quebec. The Initiative is coordinated by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, implemented by 10 organizations and supported by some hundred experts.

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Ania Wurster
Communication - marketing officer

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