A temperate peatland located in the St. Lawrence lowlands (Southern Quebec) was studied in order to specify the past influence of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on its postglacial development. Seven profiles were analysed for pollen, macroremains, microfossils, macro- and microcharcoal, and loss-on-ignition. Fire incidence was important between 9300 and 8200 cal B.P. and during the last 300 years. The Early Holocene fires were contemporaneous with local waterlogged conditions, which prevented the destruction of peat. In contrast, the effects of the recent fires were enhanced by surface dryness resulting from the creation of at least six successive ditch networks over the entire peatland. The modification of the local hydrology and the regular occurrence of fire induced profound vegetation changes. The bryophytic carpet notably regressed in favour of a shrubby coverage, dominated by Chamaedaphne calyculata, Aronia melanocarpa and Betula populifolia. The results obtained suggest that rehabilitation of such an ecosystem is realistic, although relatively urgent in order to preserve the relict populations of endangered species, such as Woodwardia virginica and Dendroica palmarum. © Springer-Verlag 2008.