Here are 5 sites where you can discover the maritime heritage of Gaspésie and immerse yourself in the region’s fascinating history through real or virtual experiences.
Lighthouses in Land’s End
With over 700 km of coastline, Gaspésie is home to many lighthouses. Those not to be missed include the three located in the region of Land’s End. The Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse, which is the tallest in Canada, is 34 metres high. The Cap-Gaspé Lighthouse is really at “land’s end”—admire the view from the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. Finally, the Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse, which is on a mountainside, offers a stunning view of the sea. After 20 years of exile in the Port of Québec, this lighthouse was returned to its original site in 1997, making it the most travelled lighthouse in the world! This site was also home to North America’s first maritime radio station, installed by Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company in 1904. To find out more about lighthouses in Gaspésie, consult the Lighthouse Tour, which includes 14 sentinels of the sea.
Cap-Gaspé Lighthouse. Photo: Mathieu Dupuis
Centre socioculturel Manoir Le Boutillier in L’Anse-au-Griffon
John Le Boutillier, whose career spanned nearly 40 years, was what would now be called a self-made man. A major exporter of dried salt cod, he was also involved in local politics. At Manoir Le Boutillier, you can learn more about his family’s history by visiting the exhibition of family portraits in the company of interpreter guides dressed in period costumes who will take you back in time.
Photo: Manoir Le Boutillier
Period houses and general stores in Forillon and L’Anse-à-Beaufils
Forillon National Park, which is surrounded by the sea, offers you the opportunity to visit several period buildings, where you can meet costumed interpreters. At Anse-Blanchette, you can visit the Blanchette family in the house of the same name; like many families in this area, they fished for cod and did a little farming on the side. In addition to the house, be sure to visit the barn, fish shed, woodshed and various structures used by the family to dry cod.
In Grande-Grave, you can visit the century-old Dolbel-Roberts house, where you can discover the life of the people who lived in this area before the park was created. Inside the house, the exhibition entitled Gaspesians from Land’s End tells the story of the Jersey Islanders, Irish, French Canadians, Italians, English, Scots, Jews and others who established themselves on the Forillon Peninsula after the Conquest of 1760.
Still in Grande-Grave, the Hyman & Sons general store, which occupies the ground floor of a house built in 1864, was a witness to the golden age of cod fishing in this area. When you step into the building, you will discover the typical operations of a company store as well as period inventory: canned products, patent medicines, china dinner services, farming equipment, fishing tackle, clothing, etc.
Further west along the coast, in the picturesque hamlet of L’Anse-à-Beaufils, travel forward in time to a few decades later in the impressive Magasin Général Historique Authentique 1928, an authentic general store dating from the 1920s. Built by the Jersey company Robin, Jones and Whitman, this building was where fishermen and their families bought supplies, but it also served as an important gathering place for the community. Relive this era as you listen to colourful anecdotes told by entertainers in period costume.
Photo: Magasin général historique authentique 1928
Musée de la Gaspésie in Gaspé
In addition to introducing you to the history of Gaspésie via two permanent exhibitions, The Deep Blue Sea and Gaspésie… A Grand Journey, the Musée de la Gaspésie showcases new temporary exhibitions every year as well as captivating virtual experiences. This summer, play the role of the captain on the La Gaspésienne no 20, one of the few cod-fishing boats open to the public. Comfortably seated with a headset and earphones, you are invited to step back into the past through a 360-degree virtual-reality film experience. You will find yourself out on the water, in 1963, in the company of two friendly local fishermen, with a mission to accomplish. Once your journey is over, head outside to visit the real Gaspésienne no 20.
Photo: Musée de la Gaspésie
Paspébiac National Historic Site
Relive the great adventure of the two largest Jersey fishing companies of the 18th and 19th centuries, Charles Robin & Company and Le Boutillier Brothers, in the magnificent period buildings found at this Paspébiac National Historic Site. Two permanent exhibitions, a multimedia presentation and theatrical performances will help you discover the fishing history of Eastern Canada. You can also watch traditional shipbuilding, net-mending, blacksmithing and barrel-making demonstrations on site.
Paspébiac National Historic Site. Photo: Mathieu Dupuis
Learn more about the maritime heritage of Gaspésie and immersing yourself in this region’s fascinating history!