Rémi Plourde first visited Percé in 1983 when he took a summer job at Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park. For several years after that, he divided his time between working in Montréal in the winter and working in Gaspésie in the summer. His attachment to the region grew as the park expanded its activities over the years. Plourde worked his way up the ranks until he was named park director in 1999. His zeal and enthusiasm for his work and for the splendours of the Percé region shine through his words here.
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The natural scenery in Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park
is truly spectacular and memorable. “What hits you when you first arrive in Percé—other than Percé Rock, which is always an impressive sight—are the contrasts: the mountains, the red soil, the blue of the water. The landscape is jagged, dramatic, breathtaking. Visiting Percé also means being surrounded by the sea: its briny smell, the sounds of the waves, the taste of saltwater when you swim. The unique feeling that comes from being in Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park recalls the imaginative world of my childhood: when I was little, I had a book that contained a picture of a northern gannet, which I adored.” At the time, Plourde never dreamed that one day he would work in such close proximity to these magnificent birds.
Although he was trained in history, Plourde knew nothing about the region’s fishing history when he first set foot in Gaspésie. “I had never heard of the Jersey and Guernsey Islands, despite their significant impact on the rich maritime heritage of the Percé region. Since part of my job was to develop interpretive activities, I did a lot of research and learned a great deal, including the fact that Gaspésie, which seems so isolated with respect to the rest of Québec, was in fact open to the whole world!”
A visit to Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park is also an opportunity to learn about marine ecology and a host of other subjects: fishing, architectural heritage, geology, wildlife (dolphins, whales, northern gannets, etc.) and more. There is something for everyone in this unique setting. “We are lucky that Bonaventure Island is home to the largest and most accessible northern gannet colony in the world. A visit to the island takes you right to their nesting site. They can be observed at close range and you can watch their fascinating rituals. Every day is different: first the birds warm the eggs, then the eggs hatch and you can see the gannet chicks at various stages of development. The light here is also exceptional and constantly changing. I think it helps visitors immerse themselves in this land and its history—they can better imagine what it was like to live on the island.”
Plourde considers it a privilege to work in such an environment and to be given the task of helping others discover it. “The people who come here are on vacation and are open to new experiences. We must spark their interest, of course, but that’s fairly easy. Their questions push us in new directions and inspire us. Working here is fun and we meet people from all over the world. For me, this work is a school of life and an enriching opportunity. I would like to extend a warm invitation for you to come and see this magical place for yourself. Like me, you will fall under the spell of this island!”