- For other places with the same name, see Oka (disambiguation).
Oka is a village of 4000 people (2011) in Laurentians region of Quebec. Far from the Laurentian mountains themselves, Oka is a nice daytrip from Montreal due to its lakeside provincial park and waterslide aquapark.
Oka is a small, old town on the north bank of the Ottawa River where it flows into the Lake of Two Mountains. Oka became internationally known for a 1990 armed standoff between Mohawks on the neighbouring Kanesatake Reserve and the Canadian Army, over a golf course expansion on ancestral land claimed by the Mohawks. Most of the time, it is a peaceful village where Montrealers go for some outdoor recreation in the summer.
This area was first settled by French colonists as a mission to First Nations in 1721 by brothers of the Sulpician Order branch of the Roman Catholic Church. Early native inhabitants were Mohawk (Kanienkaha), Algonquin, and Nipissing, who had a village known as Kanesatake, now a reserve within the boundaries of Oka.
In the 19th century, as a result of the British invasion of then French Canada, there was unrest among the various communities. The Mohawks allied with the British and turned against the French, while the Algonquins had taken the side of the French.
In 1990, the small community gained international attention in what became known as the Oka Crisis. It had approved development of a private golf course, to add nine holes and nearby luxury housing. The Mohawk of Kanesatake opposed this. Several years before the crisis the Mohawks had initiated and lost a land claim court case in which they tried to gain control of what they termed "historic land". Land known from the early mission settlement as the "pine forest". The claim was rejected by the Provincial courts.
The Mohawk of Kanesatake barricaded a dirt road leading to the land. During a 78-day confrontation, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) police force (and later Canadian army units) confronted members of the Mohawk nation. The latter were joined by other Mohawk and First Nations and Native American tribes. In addition, for several weeks, Mohawk at Kahnawake blockaded the approach to the Mercier Bridge, a route that ran through their land. Negotiations led to the Mohawk re-opening the road. An SQ officer was shot and killed at a period of heightened tensions. Numerous people were arrested. The disputed area was acquired by the Canadian Federal Government and development was stopped.
Get in Edit
By car: From Montreal, take Autoroute 13 or 15 north past Laval, then head west on Autoroute 640 until it meets with route 344 (Chemin d'Oka). Continue heading west on route 344 for about 5 km.
By train/bus from Montreal, take the Agence Metropolitain de Transport train AMT Schedule] to Deux-Montagnes station, then take the Oka Express mini-bus into town (the bus is available into Oka in the evening, then from Oka back to the train station in the morning for $2.50).
By ferry: there is a daytime, seasonal (spring to autumn) ferry taking passengers across the Lake of Two Mountains from Hudson to Oka. In the winter, if the ice freezes enough, one can drive across a cleared path on the lake for a fee.
By bike: From the Deux-Montagnes station, take the well-maintained Route Verte trail that passes through Oka National Park before reaching Oka.
Get around Edit
The centre of town is very small and can be traversed on foot within minutes. To get to the attractions (the park, the abbey, the waterslides), you will need a bicycle or a car.
- The Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac is famous for its Oka cheese produced by Trappists monks there.
- 1 Oka National Park, 2020 Chemin d'Oka. Enjoy Oka Beach along the Ottawa River and the Lake of Two Mountains at this Quebec provincial park. This 24-km² park is home to one of the largest heronries in Quebec and the historical site of Calvaire d'Oka (Calvary of Oka) shrine which dates from 1740. 6 cross-country ski trails stretching more than 35 km.
- Go on the waterslides at Super Aqua-Club in Pointe-Calumet (adjacent to Oka).
- Go apple picking at one of several farms in September and early October.
- Oka cheese, a distinctive semi-soft cheese made by monks, is available at the Notre-Dame du Lac Abbey.
- Kanesatake Reserve has a number of establishments that sell tobacco and alcohol tax-free to natives. Some may also sell it to non-natives tax free, which is of disputed legality.
- Most of the apple farms have delicious apple treats for sale in September-October (such as apple pie and apple cider).
- Apple Shack Labonte de la pomme, 405 l'Annonciation, ☏ . Apple orchard and honey house, open 7 days a week only from mid-August to mid-October.
- Shand Thai, 261 Rue des Anges, ☏ . May-Aug: M-F from 16:00, Sa Su from 15:00; Oct-Mar: Th-Su from 16:00; Apr Sep: W-Su from 16:00. Thai, Cambodian and Lao cuisine. Covered patio with an excellent view of the river. Table d'hôte $25-28; mains $19-27.
- La Paniere d'Alexie, 96 rue Notre-Dame, ☏ . W 08:30 - 17:00, Th F 08:00 - 17:00, Sa Su 07:30 - 17:00. Bakery offering breads, sandwiches, pizzas, scones, muffins, croissants and other pastries.
- Chocolaterie Mathilde Fays, 47 Rue Notre-Dame (in the centre of the village), ☏ . M-F 10:00-18:00, Sa Su 10:00-17:00. Chocolate shop and specialty coffees.
- Resto Var de la traverse, 185a Rue des Anges, ☏ . Fast food overlooking the water at the Hudson-Oka ferry terminal. No children allowed. Closed in winter.
- Parc national d'Oka, 2020 chemin Oka, ☏ . Year-round camping. Sites with or without services, or ready-to-camp. Cabins and tents available. $22.50–42.75/day.