Winter magic at Mosaïvernales

Published on February 7 2018

Cover 📸: @rolandbast via Instagram

Every culture has its own myths and legends about how the world began and why things are the way they are. One of our great gifts as humans is the ability to put thoughts and ideas into words and pictures that can be widely shared. That is the concept behind Mosaïvernales, a winter installation that captures those stories and images in snow and light.

Early on, Mother Nature wasn’t very kind to the frosty works created by master carvers from Harbin, China. But the Mosaïvernales team wasn’t discouraged: they rolled up their sleeves, closed the site temporarily, and repaired the sculptures so that visitors to the site would enjoy an amazing experience. And it worked!

On the heels of MosaïCanada 150

As you enter the site, you’ll recognize some of the structures that were installed in Jacques-Cartier Park last summer, but instead of being covered in lush greenery, they’re now dressed in winter white. The plants have been replaced by snow, and the effect is just as enchanting. The entrance is via the train station, and as soon as you step onto the platform you can feel the magic.

The route is about the same, winding among 25 works for about a kilometre. Some of the summer structures have been “repurposed” for winter, while others are brand new; each one represents a story from ancient mythology or First Nations culture. Coloured lights illuminate the impressive frescoes created by the visiting Chinese artists, and the effect is stunning! Take a minute to read the site map, which introduces the characters in each story, then have fun spotting them in the snow frescoes!

Marc Caron Photographe
Marc Caron Photographe

Jacques Cartier's boat in the snow

A one-of-a-kind experience

The site is at its most beautiful in the evening, when the sculptures shimmer under the coloured lights. About halfway along the route, there’s a rest area where you can sit and warm up and get a bite to eat. The small café serves healthy, locally sourced food: homemade soup (changes daily), sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, and while you’re at it, how about a little shot of something in that coffee? You can even get maple taffy on snow!

The igloo right beside the rest stop (and, as it happens, right across from the giant replica of Glenn Gould’s piano) is a good place to shed your coat and mitts for a few minutes before you set out to discover the rest of the legends along the route.

And speaking of legends, the Count of Mosaïvernales will be there on weekends to tell you all about them. This guy is one colourful, funny and enthusiastic storyteller. Don’t hesitate to say hello if you happen to meet him. He’s hard to miss!

Near the end of the route, you’ll recognize the iconic Mother Earth, symbol of the event. You’ll see that she’s just as majestic in winter as in summer!

To round out your experience

Jacques-Cartier Park South is a few minutes’ walk from several excellent restaurants in downtown Gatineau. For a lovely romantic evening, follow your visit to Mosaïvernales with a fine meal at a local eatery.

Families: Mosaïvernales is located between Winterlude’s Snowflake Kingdom and the Canadian Museum of History (currently presenting the superb touring exhibition Dreamworks, among others), so you can easily plan a full day of winter fun downtown!

In a nutshell


Jacques-Cartier Park South, off Laurier Street


Daily until March 4, from dusk to 10 p.m.


$10 per person (children 12 and under free)

Enjoy your visit! 😊

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