The Grande plée Bleue spared from certain dangers


The Grande plée Bleue could avoid the exploitation of its peat for commercial purposes; this fact allowed the bog to keep a state of authenticity because human interventions were there rather few. It then becomes exemplary for studies and conservation projects of wetlands and peatbogs.


Picture by Jean-Paul DOYON taken on 29th September 2013 – Tourbières SMITH (Canada) Inc. exploitation in Saint-Charles, Bellechasse county. On upper left, lake Beaumont, on the right, lake Saint-Charles, Québec, Canada

As the Quebec Department of Energy and Resources was not able to give clear information to the entrepreneurs willing to commercialize fibrous peat, it undertook in the beginning of the 90’s a sampling program covering 35 bogs in the southern part of the province. These researches were carried to identify the physicochemical properties of peat in southern Quebec but also more precisely to know its potential for industrial uses. Field studies have been assigned by the Department general direction of geological exploration to a team work supervised by Mr Pierre BUTEAU.

Here are some informations taken from the research final report published by the department: PROPRIETES PHYSICO-CHIMIQUES DE LA TOURBE DU QUEBEC MERIDIONAL EN VUE D’UTILISATION INDUSTRIELLE (Physicochemical properties of peat in Southern Quebec for industrial purposes).  1986, Par  BUTEAU, P.,  Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, ET 85-09.


Among the bogs that have been studied, we find the Grande plée Bleue identified under the name of HARLAKA. This name referred to a road called Harlaka but previously known under the name of Ste-Hélène. The peatbog belongs to the morpho-climatic region F, or the Quebec region, including Lévis territory. The morpho-climatic environments are classified following the quantity of falls during one year, the length of vegetative season, the temperature variations, the nature of substrate were peat is growing, the influence on geological enclaves, on water percolating and drainage system.

Carte d'échatillonnge

Grande plée Bleue peat bog. Samplings sites. Figure 24 extracted from the report : PROPRIÉTÉS PHYSICO-CHIMIQUES DE LA TOURBE DU QUÉBEC MÉRIDIONAL EN VUE D’UTILISATION INDUSTRIELLE. 1986, Par BUTEAU, P., Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles du Québec, ET 85-09, p. 34

As soon as 1914, studies have been carried (see ALEP in the bibliography) on the potential of industrial exploitation of the peatbog; their conclusions were that it was unfit for peat moss production because its peat was too much decomposed and it could not either be used as a fuel. These results have been confirmed by GIRARD in 1947 and SIMARD in 1970 (unpublished).


All analyses have been done or supervised by the Quebec Mineral Research Center. First, transects were made to select the main peat strata of the deposits in which samplings were to be taken. Then, samples were first dried, ground and screened after to evaluate in lab their physicochemical properties. The ten samples taken in the Grande plée Bleue have been numbered from 1216 to 1225.

Analyses have been selected with in mind their potential for commercial uses:

  • first to verify if the peat had an energetic value when transformed into peat coke or activate carbon, into peat briquettes for domestic heating, or gasified or liquefied;
  • secondly, other uses have been considered, like the ones based on the chemical properties of fibrous peat and the ones needed by the agricultural context, as slurry composting, increase of vegetable crops surface, horticultural compost, seedlings pots, etc.;
  • finally, to be used as filter in wastewater treatment or as a barrier for contaminants, as hygienic absorbent products, to take up leaking petroleum, as industrial lubricants made from wax and fat extracted from the peat.


Compared with the peat bogs in other regions of the province of Quebec as the Bas-Saint-Laurent (Lower Saint-Laurent) for example, the Quebec city region’s ones and, among these bogs the Grande plée Bleue and the Plée de Bellechasse, contain a higher rate of fat and wax but less ashes and less water holding capacity in fibric and mesic peats in particularly than in the humic ones (humus plus acidity).

The surface of the Grande plée Bleue covers 700 hectares. Its average depth is estimated at 2,4 m. Small ponds cover as much as 40 hectares. Small islands of mineral soils can be also found in the bog.

Its stratigraphic study identified strata from A to E showing under the Von Post scale a state of peat decomposition between 4 and 7, that is poorly or enough decomposed, with turbid or muddy water, depending of the degree.

Sans titre 2

Von Post scale used to estimate the state of decomposition of peat. Table taken from the report: PROPRIÉTÉS PHYSICO-CHIMIQUES DE LA TOURBE DU QUÉBEC MÉRIDIONAL EN VUE D’UTILISATION INDUSTRIELLE. 1986, Par BUTEAU, P., Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles du Québec, ET 85-09, p. 5



These results are confirming the previous researches and exclude the commercial potential of this peat bog.



ANREP, A.- Rapport sommaire de la division des mines pour l’année 1916, Ministère des Mines

GIRARD, H. – La tourbe dans Québec, son origine, sa répartition, son emploi. Ministère des Mines de la province de Québec, Service des gîtes minéraux, RG-31

BUTEAU, P. – PROPRIETES PHYSICO-CHIMIQUES DE LA TOURBE DU QUEBEC MERIDIONAL EN VUE D’UTILISATION INDUSTRIELLE – Lien vers le rapport (LINK FOR THE REPORT) ET 85-09 qui se trouve dans le fonds documentaire (SIGÉOM documentary collection) SIGÉOM (Système d’information géominière) :


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