Le CIEL and the world of Jean-Louis Courteau

Jean-Louis Courteau, Le CIEL and the Pirogue Project (dugout canoe)


Our association will fund Jean-Louis Courteau’s efforts on our lake again this year with a $5,000 grant. This year his focus will be on Hammond’s Bay. JL had a successful summer last year; he and another diver cleared all the mifoil from the entire shoal between Cunningham’s Island and Blueberry Island. He also checked Big Bay Shoal for regrowth, as well as Prentice’s Island, removing anything new.

Jean-Louis also received some grant money from the municipality to further his environmental work.Together, our grants to Jean-Louis make it possible for him to concentrate on the lake’s priorities. We are very grateful.

Jean-Louis has gathered together a group of artisans to construct a pirogue using traditional First Nations methods. The group includes a woodworker, an archeologist, a potter (the canoe is hollowed with fire) and a filmmaker to record the process.

This is a first in Quebec. An experimental archeologist accompanied by specialists from two museums will build a dugout canoe, using only techniques and tools that were used in prehistoric times. This will be a major opportunity for scientists to study the making of such boats and our understanding of how they were built.The whole adventure will be documented in video by Richard Lahaie. The completed canoe along with the video and tools will then be the object of exhibitions in different history and archeology museums. After which the dugout canoe will come back to CIEL for permanent exhibition. Very exciting!

The original plans were to build the pirogue near the Municipal Hall and have a hands-on experience for the public but Covid changed all that! So the project is happening this summer but in a private location. The project is presently funded by the municipality, and various levels of government. They are looking for substantial funding – mostly to put together a professional film of the construction. The artisans will all work for no charge if necessary. Our association has offered $1,000 as a token of our support.

There will be an official ceremony on August 15th at 13:30hrs. The Pirogue will be launched and the public will be invited to watch and meet the team. Currently the project is being documented on the Projet Pirogue Facebook page.

Finally, another bit of exciting news, Jean-Louis is proud to announce that a book he has been writing (for a long time) will finally be published this summer, out in bookstores everywhere on August 12, 2021. It is titled “Seize Îles” and it’s a collection of short stories about the lake, it’s people and its treasures, be they archeological, biological or poetical. There will probably be a book launch, sometime in August (date to be determined) at the Municipal Hall or the former village church, organized by the publisher. We can’t wait to get our hands on it.
Amis du lac is proud to support Jean-Louis in his environmental and cultural initiatives.


Our association has funded Jean-Louis Courteau’s efforts on our lake again this year
with a $5,000 grant. He plans to remove milfoil between Myers Island & Latour’s during
the month of August. He will also be working with Sylvain Miller & Anne Letourneau on
the Mini-Biofilia project referred to above.

Jean-Louis also works with the municipality on various environmental, archaeological
and biological issues through the CIEL project he founded and has managed over the
last years. Some of you will have visited CIEL’s museum on the third floor of the
Municipal Hall which features artifacts and exhibits from our lake. CIEL has received
funding to create virtual tours on-line for the museum as well as in-person audio tours at
the exhibit similar to those many of us are familiar with in museums. These tours will be
as bilingual as technology and funds allow.

Jean-Louis and his colleagues have produced a series of videos including an
underwater prop wash video (Good Boat/Bad Boat), a video tour of a Studebaker sunk
in our lake, the famous case of the 500-year-old Huron vase and other underwater
environmental, archaeological, biological and social investigations. They are presently
working on a video of the archeological dig on Cunninghams’ Island – out later this year.
To view these productions, visit Jean-Louis’ YouTube channel (here) Some of the
videos are also on the official CIEL website (here). We will be featuring Jean-Louis’
work and videos on the Amis du lac website in the coming weeks.

Over the past three years Jean-Louis has observed an algae bloom present at the
thermocline (at around 15 ft below the surface level) that was not previously present
and has been present in some but not many other lakes he has dived in. This bloom
has reduced visibility at 15 ft depth from 30 ft three years ago to, at some times, four
feet. He and his scientist colleagues are not sure what has caused this bloom but it is of
concern. It is not the same bloom as the surface yellow bloom that smells like dead fish.
Some resources will be applied to it in the Mini-Biofilia project above. The good news is
that the bloom is less dense this year than in the previous two years.

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