The Lighthouse Trail

| 14 days |2030 km (1260 mi.) + 3 h 20 by boat | from Rivière-du-Loup to Tadoussac

Since we inhabit a land of the sea, lighthouses are part of our heritage. Once sentinels of our shores, they are now guardians of our maritime culture. Of the more than 40 lighthouses that line our coasts, 17 offer tourism activities or services to the public. Given new life as museums, inns or cafés, they provide visitors with an opportunity to discover history and architecture in a new way.

Whether you opt for a guided tour, overnight stay or meal overlooking the sea, let these mysterious sites reveal their many secrets to you.

Some of our lighthouses or their outbuildings have been transformed into inns or B&Bs. While they now offer much more comfortable accommodations than they did in the days of the lightkeepers, all of these sites have kept their original character.

In addition, the Îles de la Madeleine are home to six lighthouses, one of which is still in use. Four of them are easily accessible to the public.

Download the Lighthouse Trail brochure.

You can also visit the site of La route des Phares du Québec (in French only).

Travel Itinerary

Rivière-du-Loup

1

Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie (Brandy Pot Island) Lighthouse

Located in the Pot à l’Eau de Vie Archipelago, off the coast of Rivière-du-Loup, this charming lighthouse-turned-inn has been completely renovated so you can now enjoy a stay in the middle of the St. Lawrence. Built in 1862, the lighthouse was abandoned in 1964 before being designated a federal heritage building in 1998 for its unique architecture and location. Société Duvetnor offers packages that include a commented excursion around the islands and a guided tour of the lighthouse. You can also opt for a package including meals and an overnight stay.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Hiking on Île aux Lièvres

Société Duvetnor also invites you to explore the 45 km (30 mi.) of hiking trails on Île aux Lièvres (Hare Island), which is 13 km (8 mi.) long. You may spot seals at the eastern tip of the island, while the northern channel is an ideal place to observe minke whales, belugas and porpoises. If you want to spend the night on the island, you have several options: the lighthouse inn, wilderness campsites or cottages.

Whale-watching excursions

From Rivière-du-Loup, why not go on a whale-watching excursion on the St. Lawrence with Croisières AML. Accompanied by a naturalist guide, you may see marine mammals such as seals, as well as seabirds flying overhead. This is a unique opportunity to admire wildlife and scenery while learning more about the region, the islands and heritage lighthouses.

35 km (20 mi.) + 30 min by ferryRivière-du-Loup to Île Verte (Green Island)

2

Île Verte Lighthouse

Step back in time at the Île Verte Lighthouse, the first built in Québec, in 1809. Visit the museum to learn about the history of the lighthouse and its lightkeepers. From the top of the tower, which is 17 metres (56 feet) high, you can admire the light as well as the view, which includes the Île Rouge and Haut-Fond Prince lighthouses in Côte-Nord. To prolong the experience, spend the night in one of the lightkeeper’s houses.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Activities on Île Verte

Take advantage of your stay on Île Verte to enjoy various outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling and wildlife and plant observation. Be sure to also visit the island’s other attractions: the École Michaud interpretation centre (located in a former country schoolhouse) and the skeleton museum. The island also offers three restaurants and several lodging options.

90 km (55 mi.) + 30 min by ferryÎle Verte to Rimouski

3

Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse

“128 steps and over 100 years of history!” This is what the interpreter guide who takes you up this national historic site of Canada will tell you as you admire the panoramic view from the top of the lighthouse before descending to visit the exhibits found in the lightkeeper’s house. A witness to the tragic sinking of the Empress of Ireland, which killed 1012 people in May 1914, the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse is adjacent to the Empress of Ireland Museum, which commemorates this tragedy through an exhibit of artefacts from the ship as well as a 3D show about the shipwreck. On site, you can also visit the Onondaga, the first submarine open to the public in Canada, where you can learn about the daily lives of the submariners by listening to a fascinating audio guide.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Saint-Barnabé Island

Located off the coast of Rimouski, Saint-Barnabé Island offers 20 km (12 mi.) of hiking trails that give you the opportunity to discover local plants and wildlife, including the great blue heron, the emblem of the island. Walk the interpretive trail, which traces the human history of this 6-km (4-mi.) island, which is only 300 metres (985 feet) wide. You can also stay on the island to admire the sunsets on the St. Lawrence and spend the night at a wilderness campsite.

Bic National Park

You will be charmed by the variety of landscapes in Bic National Park. Observe flora and fauna while enjoying outdoor activities (sea kayaking, hiking and cycling) or retrace the history of the park through interpretive activities. On clear days, you can see the Bicquette Island Lighthouse from the top of Pic Champlain. You can also stay in the park in a cabin or campsite or opt for something more unusual such as a yurt or Huttopia tent.

285 km (175 mi.)Rimouski to New Richmond

4

Carleton Lighthouse

Built in 1872, the Carleton Lighthouse was the first in Chaleur Bay. Replaced in 1911 and then destroyed by fire, the lighthouse was rebuilt by the community in 1984 and is located in Pointe Tracadigash Park in Carleton-sur-Mer. Nearby you will find beaches, walking trails and several information panels about the history of the town.

Duthie’s Point Lighthouse

Relocated to the Gaspesian British Heritage Village, this lighthouse is not open to the public, but the cliff on which it now stands offers a stunning view of Chaleur Bay. On site you can learn about the daily lives of English-speaking people who settled in this area from the late 18th century to the early 20th century.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site

Commemorating the last naval battle between France and Great Britain for possession of North America in 1760, this interpretation centre exhibits vestiges of the Machault frigate. Interesting fact: the “historic site” is actually the wreck of the ship, which is located at the bottom of Chaleur Bay!

160 km (100 mi.)New Richmond to Percé

5

Pointe Bonaventure Lighthouse

Located on a point that overhangs Chaleur Bay near the Plage Beaubassin campground, this early 20th-century wooden lighthouse is relatively well preserved. Built in 1902, it fits in with the picturesque maritime character of its coastal setting and is a reminder of the strong seafaring tradition of this region. In season, the lighthouse is sometimes open to the public. When it is, you can climb the stairs to visit the former lantern room.

Cap-d’Espoir Lighthouse

By renting the assistant lightkeeper’s house for your stay, you will have access to the Cap-d’Espoir Lighthouse. Standing out in its tranquil surroundings, this lighthouse is an ideal place to observe seabirds and marine mammals.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Banc-de-Pêche-de-Paspébiac Historic Site

Go back in time at the Banc-de-Pêche-de-Paspébiac Historic Site and relive the adventures of two fishing companies of the 18th and 19th centuries through onsite presentations and demonstrations. You can also visit the largest wooden structure in North America, a fishing stage, which now houses a permanent exhibit about cod fishing.

Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park

In Percé, observe famous Percé Rock up close and then visit Bonaventure Island, which is home to 116,000 northern gannets, in the most accessible colony of these birds in the world. Be sure to also visit the Le Boutillier House to learn more about the region’s fishing history.

70 km (45 mi.)Percé to Gaspé

6-7

Cap Gaspé Lighthouse

Perched on a 95-metre (310-foot) cliff in Forillon National Park, the Cap Gaspé Lighthouse is still operational and can be reached via the Les Graves trail. It is relatively small: about 13 metres (42 feet) high. The information panels on site will explain the navigational aids used on Cap Gaspé.

Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse

At 34 metres (112 feet) high, the Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse is the tallest in Canada. Participate in a guided tour and learn more about its history and operations as you climb to the top of the light tower.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Forillon National Park

Located at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, Forillon National Park is noted for its rich plant life and the thousands of seabirds nesting in its cliffs. The park also offers a multitude of activities: hiking, sea excursions, seal and beaver watching, and more. Travel back in time to the turn of the 20th century in the Grande-Grave sector by visiting various period buildings that recount the history of this area.

Whale-watching cruises

In both Percé and Gaspé, you can enjoy a guided whale-watching cruise during which you will learn all about the species found in this area. Keep your eyes and ears peeled—you may hear the blows of the whales before you see them!

225 km (140 mi.)Gaspé to Cap-Chat

8

Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse

Known as the most travelled lighthouse in the world, the Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse invites you to participate in a guided tour focusing on architecture and history, including the presence of North America’s first maritime radio station, installed by Marconi in 1904. Find out more by visiting the two exhibits on site.

Cap Madeleine Lighthouse

From the top of the Cap Madeleine Lighthouse, admire the immense sea while observing northern gannets and whales. Visit the foghorn shed for a glimpse into the history of this area. You can also enjoy regional specialties in the assistant lightkeeper’s house and purchase a few local handicrafts as souvenirs.

La Martre Lighthouse

Visit a lighthouse with a unique wooden structure that has been in operation since 1906 (and is completely red!). The original timing system still controls the light as it rotates in its pool of mercury. A guide will tell you more about this lighthouse, while the permanent exhibit in an adjacent building will introduce you to the expertise involved in designing lighthouse lanterns, from the 1700s to today.

Cap-Chat Lighthouse

Perched on a cliff next to a cape in the shape of a cat, this lighthouse, which is still operational, is surrounded by flowered trails leading to the sea. Learn about the history of the lighthouse and its lightkeepers by reading the information panels. Various activities are offered on site, and you can also spend the night in the lightkeeper’s house.

70 km (45 mi.)Cap-Chat to Matane

9

Matane Lighthouse

From the top of the light tower, observe marine traffic, a wind farm and the Chic-Choc Mountains. You can also see the equipment found in a modern wheelhouse (radar, radio transmitter, weather station, etc.) and visit the sea museum. The local tourism welcome bureau is housed in the lightkeeper’s house.

450 km (280 mi.) + 2 h 20 by ferry (Matane to Baie-Comeau)Matane to Havre-Saint-Pierre

10

Ferry crossing to Baie-Comeau (or Godbout)

Take advantage of the two-hour ferry crossing aboard the MV Camille Marcoux to relax and admire the waters of the St. Lawrence and the approaching Côte-Nord coastline. Enjoy the onboard amenities, which include a cafeteria, a bar, film screenings and a lounge. Keep your eyes peeled and you may spot marine mammals!

Havre-Saint-Pierre

11

Petite Île au Marteau Lighthouse

A guided tour of the Petite Île au Marteau Lighthouse will help you appreciate its history and importance. Prolong your stay on this island in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve by going for a hike, during you can admire seabirds, fossils and cliffs. Nature and history await you here!

Île aux Perroquets Lighthouse

Located in an area that is difficult to navigate, the Île aux Perroquets Lighthouse has always played an important role. Once staffed by two locally famous lightkeepers, Count Henry de Puyjalon and Placide Vigneau, who were both writers, this lighthouse offers you the opportunity to discover local flora and fauna thanks to an interpretive trail, permanent exhibit and guided tours.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve

Since you are already in this park reserve, take the time to explore the Mingan Archipelago, which is made up of some 30 limestone islands and over 1000 granitic islets and reefs. On the agenda: hiking, wildlife observation (including the famous Atlantic puffin), camping and more.

SIDE TRIP

Pointe-Nord Lighthouse (Cap-de-Rabast), Anticosti

Accessible by boat or plane, Anticosti Island is home to 166,000 white-tailed deer and only 300 people. The Pourvoirie Lac Geneviève d’Anticosti outfitter offers weeklong seaside stays in the lightkeeper’s house at the northern point of the island, which is also known as Cap-de-Rabast. (A rabast refers to an area where boats take shelter during bad weather.) Discover the island’s history and natural environment by visiting the ecomuseum and explore Anticosti National Park to see caves, waterfalls and canyons.

220 km (135 mi.)Havre-Saint-Pierre to Sept-Îles

12

Sept Îles Archipelago

Enjoy a day of relaxation on the beach on Grande Basque Island. On your own or with a naturalist guide, discover the flora, fauna and geology of the island along 12 km (7 mi.) of hiking trails. You can also observe seabirds and marine life during a Zodiac excursion in the archipelago.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Whale-watching excursions

In Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) will introduce you to the marine mammals found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To learn even more, participate in a day trip at sea with the organization’s researchers.

140 km (85 mi.)Sept-Îles to Baie-Trinité

13

Pointe-des-Monts Lighthouse

On the seven floors of the Pointe-des-Monts Lighthouse, an exhibit chronicles the lives of the lightkeepers from 1830 to 1964. The exhibit includes period furniture and tools as well as information about First Nations seal hunters. Extend your stay by spending a night in one of the four rooms on the ground floor of the lightkeeper’s house. Cottages are also available for rent nearby.

285 km (175 mi.)Baie-Trinité to Tadoussac

14

Bon-Désir Lighthouse

Located at the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre, this last lighthouse on your itinerary offers a magnificent view of the St. Lawrence as well as of the Haut-Fond Prince and Île Rouge lighthouses. A trail will lead you to one of the best places to observe whales and seals in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. The lightkeeper’s house is home to an exhibit on navigation, marine mammals and the Aboriginal people in this area. Interpreter guides are also on site to answer your questions.

NEARBY MARITIME ACTIVITIES

Whale-watching excursions in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park

Covering an area of 1245 km2 (480 sq. mi.), the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is the only park in the province to protect an exclusively marine environment. Take part in a sea excursion by Zodiac, sea kayak or comfortable sightseeing boat to see the many species of whales found in this park. You can also observe them from several locations along the shore. Keep your eyes peeled for belugas, humpbacks, blue whales and other marine mammals.

Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park

Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park is home to unique and stunning landscapes that were carved by glaciers about 20,000 years ago. Admire breathtaking scenery while hiking or sea kayaking and learn more about the park during theatrical performances, guided hikes and talks.