Tour in English




Welcome to the Parc de la Falaise et de la chute Kabir Kouba! My name is _______________ and I will be your guide for the visit. The visit will go as follows (…). Do not hesitate to ask me questions. If I don’t know the answer, I will do some research to find the answer as fast as possible.


As you see, in front of you is the Kabir Kouba waterfall. With a height of 90 feet, this waterfall is one of the most impressive places of the Saint Charles’s river, who bathes all the North of the current city of Quebec. On the other side, you can see the canyon which is over 138 feet high (not on this part of the path but further in the tour). Naturally, the river Saint Charles has a history. The name Cabircoubat means "the river of a thousand bends". This name was given by the Amerindians because there are a lot of twists and turns in the river. It is finally the `` Récollets ``, a religious order, who gave its current name to the river, the "Saint Charles’s river".

In addition to the rich historical heritage site, the interest Kabir Kouba lies in its geological and geographical importance. The waterfall is supported by metamorphic rock (a granitic indestructible gneiss) of the Canadian Shield. The formation of metamorphic rock comes from sedimentary rock or igneous rock whose texture, structure and mineralogical composition were changed as a result of pressure and temperature. This kind of rock is very hard and is difficult to crumble, while the rock wall that is facing it is composed of sedimentary rock (limestone) of St. Lawrence Lowlands, which is easy to crumble. Sedimentary rock is formed by the accumulation and the consolidation of sediments of various origins, which are hanging in water. Often, they are very fossiliferous (show a huge amount of fossils).


First sign

We can see at first (above on the right) the specimen of trilobite discovered on the site of the waterfall in 1924 (by Mr Foerste) and which is named in honour of Loretteville (Cryptolithus Tessalatus Lorettensis). Trilobites possessed the oldest known system of vision. The study of fossilized eyes of trilobites allowed great amount of scientific progressions in the ophthalmic domain. We can also observe the bloodroot. The name of this flower comes from the fact that when you cut the leaf, the color of the sap is red like blood. Formerly, the Amerindians used the sap of the bloodroot to paint their faces to go to war. Finally, we can see a pothole which is a cavity dug in the rock by small stones. With the current, the stones turn in the cavity, eroding the walls and digging more and more into the pothole.

Second sign

On this sign, we can see some pictures of famous painters who immortalized the waterfall. The three most notable artists are Charles Huot, Cornelius Krieghoff and William Henry Bartlett.

Third sign

Finally, on this sign, we can see different pictures and illustrations recalling the various mills that took place near the falls.


Admire the fresco. The fresco represents the history of the Huron-Wendat Nation. It symbolizes the union and the survival of men and women in their respective spheres, through their traditional daily activities, whether it is familial, social or commercial relations. The fresco has two parts. The left side of the fresco represents the role of men and the right represents the role of women. Men hunt to bring food and materials for crafts and clothing, they make contacts with other civilizations and they trade mainly fur. Women take care of their families, they are in charge of the agriculture and of the transmission of expertise and education. You can also notice four symbolic animals, which are the turtle, the wolf, the bear and the deer. They are the representation of the clans in the Huron-Wendat Nation.

Finally, in the center of the fresco, there is a big turtle which represents the myth of creation for the Hurons-Wendat. The myth begins as follows: Long ago, the Huron-Wendat Nation lived in heaven and on Earth, there was only a big sea. One day, Aataentsic, the daughter of the chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation, became ill. The doctor said: "The only way to save her is to collect the fruit of the Big Tree as well as its ground". So, Aataentsic went to the Big Tree and began to dig around its roots to collect the ground. Unfortunately, the young Amerindian girl dug too deep in the ground and she made a hole in heaven, so she and the Big Tree fell from heaven. However, the young Wendat girl was saved by geese and they placed her on their big wings. At that moment, Big Turtle emerged from the sea and told the geese to lay her down on its shell. Although Aataentsic did not fall in the sea, she was still sick and she needed to eat the fruit and collect the ground of the Big Tree. So the otter, the muskrat and the beaver tried to pick up the fruit and the ground of the Big Tree but they did not succeed. It was Grandmother Toad who succeeded, but almost lost her life trying. She put the fruit and some grains of ground on the shell of Big Turtle. Finally, Aataentsic ate the fruit and was cured. Then, with the grains of ground, she spread them on the shell of Big Turtle and the animal became an island. So this is how was created the Earth as we know it today.

As mentioned in the legend, the shell of Big Turtle represents an island. Thus, Wendake means the island and Wendat means the inhabitants of the island.

The Huron-Wendat society is a matrilinear society which means the lineage of the woman; the child is a member of the clan of her mother and not of his father. In this society, it is the women who elect the chiefs. Furthermore, when a woman gets married, it is the man who has to live in the woman’s family. The Huron-Wendat were, a long time ago, in a Huron confederation which was a gathering of five clans of iroquoian language. There were the people of the bear, the rope, the rock, the deer and the swamps. This confederation represented the economic, political and social aspect of the Huron people. It had settled down on a territory called Huronie which was situated in the Georgian Bay (in Ontario). In 1649, the Huron confederation ceased its activities due to three factors which are disease, war and religion.

With the arrival of the Europeans, came a lot of diseases that decimated many Native American populations. Indeed, from 1634 to 1640, the French people have transmitted many diseases such as smallpox in 1639, which was a big cause of death for the Hurons.


Are you ready for the second legend? It is the legend of the Big Snake. Here lived the Amerindians and on the other side, the French people. Unfortunately, the Amerindians and the colonists of the region did not agree on the limit of the border between both groups. They squabbled so loudly that they woke the Big Snake who slept in the Laurentian for years. The Big Snake made himself a way through mountains, crushing trees along his path and he came down to the Huron village of Wendake. The Huron and the French looked at the reptile and they shook with fear. The Big Snake had a horse’s mane and, as he shook it, sparks flew out of it and lit a fir on fire. He had silver scales covering his skin, shining as golden blades struck by the beams of a beautiful sun at noon. With a powerful flick of his tail, the Big Snake lifted off the ground several meters and roared with anger against those who, up to there, had not managed to an agree! "I have to come and solve the question myself. From now on, I shall be your border and I shall rumble constantly so that you will never forget my presence!" The Big Snake transformed himself into stormy river with numerous bends. Do you hear that noise? It’s the rumble of the snake so that nobody forgets him. Now, let’s go closer to the fall!


You see the stone wall behind you? Do you know what it was used for? In fact, this is the ruins of an old electric dam. We don’t have a lot of information on this one. However, we are sure about its existence. Here is a picture illustrating the power station. We can identify 3 elements: the hydroelectric dam, the pipe (in the wall, we can see a hole where it was placed) and finally wires. We believe that the building where the turbine was, was situated in the sawmill (next to the mill of the Jesuits). We know that the first developer of the power station is the "the hydraulic and electric company of Young Lorette" ( CHÉJL) who had to supply electricity to all the parish of Saint-Ambroise-de-la-Jeune-Lorette (French name). In your opinion, who had the right to have electricity? Yes, the rich people, but also the church. There are two small anecdotes about the hydroelectric power station. So, one evening, the church decided to turn on all the lights in the church and it plunged all the rest of the parish into the darkness. This anecdote proves us that the production of the electricity was very low. Before the second anecdote, in your opinion, do you think the river is still full of fish? Yes it is, however certain species disappeared like salmon. Indeed, before 1911, the city of Quebec had already installed on the river two pipe lines from the St-Charles River to Quebec city to ensure drinking water to the inhabitants of the city and they decided, in 1911, to build a third pipe. The pipe, with a diameter of 40 inches, was put in service in 1914, at that very moment, a drought struck the region. The demand was too important and it completely dried the river which led several industries to closure, but also the disappearance of salmon of the river. But, why the salmon did not return? Well, salmon lay their eggs at the same place each year. Since, they could not lay them in 1914 because of the drought, the salmon went someplace else and never returned.


All in all, there were two paper mills with four different owners.

The Russel Paper mill

From 1854, in this location, there was the first paper mill built by Willis Russel. In 1853, Joseph Falardeau, a businessman, becomes the first owner of the mill. In fact, he bought the paper mill and the saw mill from the colonial government of Quebec, as well as all the land up to the Bastien Boulevard, at the time it was called The Queen’s Highway. Already, the new owner had many "modern" projects for the site and had planned the construction of a paper mill. It’s from this that the relation of Falardeau with an American hotel investor of the city of Quebec, Willis Russel, was born. But Falardeau was not able to assume the high costs of the workforce and the materials (which was promised in the lease of rent signed for 18 years), so he decided to sell, from 1854, the north part of the site (the paper mill) to Russel. Even with all Russel’s efforts, the mill has worked only for 8 to 10 months until 1856 when it was closed.

The Logan’s mill

So, the city of Quebec became the owner of the mill in June 1857, but tried quickly to find a new owner. In only three months, the city signed a sale agreement to Margaret Logan. In your opinion, why could a woman be an owner of a mill in these years? In fact, it reduced the risks of seizure of property in case of bankruptcy. So, she used the money of her husband. Furthermore, her husband, Angus McDonald, was already an owner of a paper mill in Cap-Santé (Portneuf). It was not financial difficulties, but fire that destroyed Mrs Logan’s mill on June 10th, 1862.

The Smith’s mill

After the destruction of the Logan’s mill, Frederica Maria Hoffman, wife of Peter Smith, bought the ground of the mill in 1862 and began the reconstruction to boost the production of paper. However, her project ended in January, 1870 with the bankruptcy of Mrs. Hoffmann. Her husband Peter Smith took over the company, in May (he bought her out). Finally, Peter Smith got rid of the land bordering the fall Kabir Kouba in August 1870 selling them to the Reid brothers, James and William. But they hired Smith as manager of the mill for the first 5 years of their administration.

Reid’s mill

From August 1870, it was the administration of the brothers James and William Reid that brought the most prosperous years for the paper mill of the Kabir Kouba waterfall. They could produce one to two tons of paper a day. Furthermore, they had 30 employees (among which were 10 women) all year long. In your opinion, why did they hire women? It was because they costed less money and they were really useful for meticulous work that demanded delicate hands. What kinds of material do you think was used to make paper during that time? Paper was made with straw, linen, bark and rags. Finally, this mill burned on August 1st, 1900. After these explanations on the most industrial period, I suggest you to go back in time a little to the period of grain mills.

Flour mill

As we said, the first Lords to promote the settlement of European colonists in the region are the Jesuits. The Jesuits had the duty to build a grain mill to the people of the seigneury, and so they did in 1732. The Jesuits did not milled the grain themselves; they gave rental leases for variable durations (5 - 9 years) to various millers. We know little about the evolution of the mill, but we know that a sawmill was annexed to it before 1749.  We know that in 1807, the mill was in ruined and that leases of 21 years were even made to allow the millers to make the necessary repairs. At that time, the Jesuits no longer took no longer cared of the mill, because this order is abolished in 1774 (the last Jesuit died in 1800). Thus, the colonial government took everything in charge. Until 1853, the leases were offered by public auction. Then, Joseph Falardeau bought the mill and the surrounding ground, becoming the first private owner of this mill in history.


I am going to tell you the legend of the diabolic cave. A long time ago, the head of the Amerindian village granted the hand of his daughter to the bravest warrior that the Huron had. He organised the biggest feast of the time because the lovers deserved it! The Amerindian allies of the tribe came from a great distance for this feast. Once the festivities had begun, the music and the dances did not stop during the three days. We could hear songs for miles around; the ground vibrated with the sound of drums, so much that the dead would have been able to return to life! On the third evening of the festivities, everybody gathered around a big fire. A tall and beautiful man with great pomp asked the bride-to-be to dance. The man was an outstanding dancer and they danced all night. At dawn, the man started to act strangely. He asked the girl to follow him near the waterfall to discuss something . The man declared his feelings to her and asked her to stay with him and to abandon her high status in order to live with him. The bride-to-be did not accept his proposal, because she wanted to be true to her commitments and to honor her father. Suddenly, the man lost his beautiful appearance and the Amerindian girl discovered the true nature of the stranger. His soul was black as hell and his breath was as ice-cold as the Canadian winters. The atmosphere became heavy, cold and smelly, like the stench of death. The demon declared: "If I can’t have you, nobody will". On these words, the devil pushed the girl into the waterfall, but she fell on a rock and survived. The devil saw her and he joined her. He pushed her in a cave and locked her inside by placing an enormous rock in front of the entrance. A few days later, the groom was found dead. He had committed suicide, because the loss of his bride-to-be had filled him with sadness.

And now do you want to know how we made pink lemonade during that time? Then, follow me and try to guess which fruits were used. It will be hidden above our heads.

Staghorn Sumac

You can see, on your right, the Staghorn Sumac. This shrub was imported from tropical regions; it blooms for a very long period, up to the first frost. The fruits form dense clusters of reddish drupes called ``sumac bobs``. Its acid pink hairs were formerly used in the preparation of the pink lemonade.

Red Trillium

It is easily recognized by its three leaves, hence the name trillium. The stench emanating from the dark red flower attracts blowflies, which ensures fertilization. It takes 5 to 7 years for this flower to reach maturity and be able to make flowers and fruits. We use it especially for pimples and nose bleeds.


Commonly called Forget-me-not, this flower symbolizes fidelity, love and remembrance. The Forget-Me-Not is a symbol of Alaska, as it is the state flower. The Forget-Me-Not flower has also been adopted as a symbol for Canada's Alzheimer Society; Alzheimer's disease is the progressive mental deterioration of the brain, hence the Forget-Me-Not is a symbol of memory loss. The common name is explained by a Christian legend. God was walking in the Garden of Eden and gave a name to each flower. He is asked by a small plant which name He had given. Since He had forgotten, He named it Forget-me-not. In fact, the greek word «myosotis» means mouse ear because of the shape of its leaves.


Hardwood and conifers


You will notice that we are still fairly surrounded with hardwoods (maples) of good size. However, as you go down near the river, you find that hardwoods give way to conifers. Hardwoods, with deep roots, prefer the top of the cliff (more space & less mineral deposits from the river) whereas conifers have climbing roots and prefer the bottom of the cliff.


Continents movement

If we look at a current map, we notice that continents fit into each other and if we go on the ground, the type of rocks and fossils will be the same on continents. In 4 billion years of existence, the ground geography was modified enormously by the action of the tectonic plates. According to estimations, Quebec passed several times under the equator before taking its current place. The separation of the continental masses gave birth to several water expanses such as the Iapetus Ocean.

Iapetus Ocean

Iapetus Ocean would be the ocean which was there before the one that we know now, but it would not be its ancestor, because Iapetus Ocean has closed about 400 million years ago. It began to form approximately 600 million years ago after the separation of many big continents like the Laurentia continent, the Baltica continent and the Sibéria continent. Millions of years passed and the ocean increased to get its maximum extension about 510 million years ago. 430 million years ago, the tectonics plates continued to move. The continents moved closer and the Iapetus Ocean, stuck between two continental masses, got smaller. For 410 million years, The Iapetus Ocean was nothing more than the vestige of a formerly enormous ocean which, at this time, has closed more and more until it did not exist anymore. After 250 million years, all the continents have become one.


Do you know what lived in this enormous ocean? Yes, marine animals. These animals were there before dinosaurs and even before the Ice Age. In fact, here we can find fossils which prove their presences. They lived here for are about 450 million years.

The banks of the St. Charles River contain several kinds of fossils. Paleontologists call them phylums. The fossil specimens that are found mostly on the site come from following phylums: trilobites, rolled up or lengthened cephalopods, bivalves and bryozoaires.

Trilobites are the most common fossils on the site. They are called trilobite because their body is divided into three segments: the head, the thorax and the abdomen.

Cephalopods are carnivorous molluscs. In modern days, squid and octopus are cephalopod species. The fossils on the site indicate that these animals formerly had an external shell that was straight or rolled up, as well as a head with tentacles. They move by blowing air. Nowadays, known bivalves are oysters, mussels or clams.

Bryozoaires are like corals today. They are animals living in warm and shallow seas. This suggests that at the time of their fossilization on the site, Quebec was situated near the Equator.

The presence of water in Quebec

In the Ice Age, there was approximately a million years that the North American continent was covered with ice. The icecap was then approximately 3 km thick. Then, the ice has started to melt. By retreating, the ice has brought with it large blocks of rock.  These are what we called erratic blocks, which means blocks moved by a glacier.

According to you, what happened once all the ice was gone? What happens when ice melts? Water! This new water expanse created the sea of Champlain. In its turn, the sea of Champlain disappeared to become the St. Lawrence River and others rivers such as the St. Charles River.


Impatiens capensis (or Spotted Touch-me-not or Orange Jewelweed)

We stop here to talk about the Impatiens capensis. It’s an annual plant native to North America. The flowers are orange with three-lobed corolla. The seed pods are pendant and have projectile seeds that explode out of the pods when they are lightly touched, if ripe, which is where the name 'touch-me-not' comes from. The leaves appear to be silver or 'jeweled' when held underwater, which is possibly where the jewelweed name comes from. Along with other species of jewelweed, it is a traditional remedy for skin rashes, although controlled studies have not shown efficiency for this purpose.


Sedimentary rock

As I explained it earlier, the formation of this rock is the result of the accumulation and the solidification of sediments that were deposited at the bottom of the ocean. We can notice it by many characteristics such as: visually, these rocks tend to form by stratum. They are very fossiliferous. Caves, potholes as well as canyons are elements susceptible to be found in sedimentary rocks.

The Cliff

The St. Charles River is here inside a canyon of 138 feet high (42m). This wall is made of sedimentary rock, limestone to be exact. Water is one of main factors of erosion of the canyon. In a period of about 12 000 years, it has eroded the canyon wall to give it a height of 42 meters. There is an erosion of about 3.33 millimeters per year.

The White Cedar

On the site, you can see a lot of white cedar. The white cedar is one of the most common conifers in the park. They were very important in history thanks to its green shoots (which are an excellent source of vitamin C), Jacques Cartier and his men were saved from scurvy.


We thank you for your visit to the « Parc de la Falaise et de la chute Kabir Kouba». I hope was able to answer all your questions

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