Ile Saint-Bernard near Montreal, Québec, hosts an exceptional array of ecosystems (swamps, bogs, meadows, sugar-maple hickory groves, and white oak stands) that sustain a multitude of fauna and 226 species of birds, as well as many rare plants and flowers. The five miles of trails are ideal for hiking, photography, and bird watching. Educational outings and workshops are offered to school-age children and every summer over 7,500 visitors gather for the Ecomarché in August, which showcases the products of 60 or more artisans and farmers.
Many of the oldest edifices still survive on the land of the former proprietors, the Grey Nuns, although others were destroyed in fires and floods. The existing windmill was constructed in 1686, but its poor location exposed it to strong winds and limited its use. Nevertheless, it has endured. In 1865, fearing its complete destruction, the Sisters covered the roof in tin, and erected a statue of Saint Joseph on the dome. Years later, this statue was blown off in a hurricane and replaced with another ordered from the maison Raff in Paris.
Some mystery is associated with this same hill on the west side of the island. It is oval-shaped and has a steep slope, rising about 100 feet above the water level of the lake. Historians once suggested that the hill might be more than the work of a former ice age. That humans could have contributed to its formation is supported by its ressemblence to similar, albeit more diminutive, mounds which have served as burial grounds. The idea that the hillock could have been the work of a lost people was borne out during an excavation in 1854 that recovered 18 skulls within approximately 18 square feet, along with many other bones and weapons.