Open water swimming is permitted at Meech and Leamy lakes from middle of May to middle of October.

Open water swimming is an increasingly popular activity. According to the Fédération de natation du Québec (French-only website), open water swimming refers to all swimming that takes place in outdoor bodies of water such as oceans, lakes and rivers, and usually over long distances.

To ensure everyone’s safety, the NCC is limiting open water swimming to the two Meech Lake beaches and the Leamy Lake beach.

Measures and instructions

No lifeguards are on duty in the designated open water swimming areas. Engaging in this activity is at your own risk.

  • Access to the water: Water access points are located close to the main parking lots for the beaches. Starts and returns take place at the designated access points indicated on the onsite maps. It is not permitted to enter the water from private property or to exit the water onto private property.
  • Swimming area: Swimming areas are marked by buoys, to which a whistle and lifebuoys are attached, and these areas may be used for open water swimming at any time. Outside of the swimming area, for safety reasons, you must remain a distance of 30 m or less from the shore at all times. Inside the swimming area, you must swim counter-clockwise.
  • Boats: If you bring a boat, please swim at Leamy Lake. Water access points for swimming and boats are separate at Meech Lake.

Lakes offering open water swimming program

Leamy Lake

Leamy Lake is located in the Hull sector of Gatineau. Leamy Lake parking lots open at 5 am and close at 10 pm. Paid parking begins at 7 am.

Additional information about Leamy Lake Park, parking hours and fees

Meech Lake

Meech Lake is located in Gatineau Park and offers public access for non-motorized boating as well as two beaches (Blanchet and O’Brien). Access to the water is permitted as soon as the parking lots open at 5 am at O’Brien Beach, P11 ($) and at 7 am from Blanchet Beach, P13 ($). Parking lots close at 9:30 pm. Open water swim access is not permitted at the boat launch (P12).

Respect for private property

There are private homes, cottages, boathouses and docks on Meech lake and along its shoreline. In order to respect the peace and tranquility of local residents, a quiet time has been set from 9 pm to 7 am. Accessing private property is not permitted at any time.

All swimmers are asked to practise their sport in a respectful manner.

Safety tips

Open water swimming is an endurance sport. Make sure that you are comfortable swimming in deep, cold water.

Reminder: No lifeguards are on duty in the areas designated for open water swimming. However, these areas are marked by buoys with lifebuoys, as well as whistles that can be used to call for help.

For your safety, you must wear a fluorescent swim cap and use a swim buoy.

History: Open water swimming pilot project

The NCC conducted an open water swimming pilot project from 2021 to 2022 at Meech Lake in Gatineau Park and at Leamy Lake in the Hull sector of Gatineau. The program is now a permanent summer activity. The decision was made based on data analysis, observations, consultations, communications received and the 2021 and 2022 assessment reports.

Every year, the equipment needed for the open swim program, such as signage and buoys, is set up in mid-May and removed in mid-October at Meech et Leamy lakes.

Further resources:

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