The Québec maritime Blog

11 Lighthouses to Discover in Gaspésie
  • Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse, Gaspé, Gaspésie
    Sébastien St-Jean

11 Lighthouses to Discover in Gaspésie

Gaspésie is home to breathtaking landscapes, picturesque villages and natural sites of great beauty. But did you know that the Gaspé Peninsula is also known for its lighthouses, which bear witness to the region’s maritime past and still fascinate visitors today? These sentinels of the sea offer spectacular views of the cliffs and the St. Lawrence. Keep reading to learn more about the lighthouses of Gaspésie.

Carleton Lighthouse

The Carleton Lighthouse is a must-see for visitors to this region. Located on Pointe Tracadigache in Carleton-sur-Mer, it’s a great place to watch sunsets and participate in cultural events in the summer. The building is a replica of the wooden lighthouse built on this site in 1911. Originally demolished in 1970, it was rebuilt in the mid-1980s by the local community. You can climb to the top of the tower to see the light signal up close and admire a 360-degree view of the point. Inside the lighthouse, interpretive panels recount the maritime history of this area and its importance to local industry. A visit to this lighthouse is a perfect activity for families and anyone interested in local history (admission is free).

Pointe Duthie Lighthouse

A former shipyard located near the town of New Richmond, the Duthie Point heritage site features a wooden lighthouse built at the end of the point, which is a replica of the original lighthouse that began operations in 1903. The tower is open to the public, and you can also discover the old airstrip and visit exhibitions of period items ranging from handmade household utensils and home furnishings to farm machinery. Commune with nature as you explore the extensive forest trails on this 33-hectare (82-acre) site.

Pointe Bonaventure Lighthouse

Built in 1902, the Pointe Bonaventure Lighthouse is a former navigational aid station on Chaleur Bay in Bonaventure. In 2005, it was moved to the mouth of the Bonaventure River to make it more accessible to the public. The lighthouse is now located near a campground, picnic areas and a short boardwalk that leads to the end of a wharf. The building is usually open to visitors, so be sure to climb to the top to admire a view of the surrounding area.

Cap-d’Espoir Lighthouse

The Cap-d’Espoir Lighthouse is located at the end of Route du Phare, south of the village of Percé, in the former municipality of Cap-d’Espoir. The origins of this place name are uncertain. In the 17th century, it was named Cap d’Espoir (“Hope Cape”) and then Cap du Désespoir (“Despair Cape”), presumably reflecting navigational experiences in the area. The name may also have come from Cape Despair, which sounds like Cap d’Espoir in French. Once a sign of both hope and despair for navigators, this site is now a quiet place to relax and recharge your batteries. You can even rent the assistant lightkeeper’s house on a weekly basis year-round.

Cap-Gaspé Lighthouse

Perched at the top of a cliff, the Cap-Gaspé Lighthouse offers a breathtaking view of Gaspé Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To get there, park in the L’Anse-aux-Amérindiens parking lot in Forillon National Park and then follow the Les Graves trail for 4 km (2.5 mi.) to “Land’s End” at the tip of Forillon. This is where you’ll find the lighthouse, the third to have been built on this site (in 1950) in order to guide sailors navigating off Forillon. During your visit, be sure to read the interpretive panels located in the foghorn shed and outside, which recount the history of this lighthouse. Also, keep your eyes on the water and you may be lucky enough to spot a whale’s blow! Take advantage of your visit to explore the walking trails in the park or enjoy a picnic while soaking up the surrounding scenery.

Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse

Visit Gaspé to admire the tallest lighthouse in Canada! Standing 34 metres (112 feet) high, this majestic white tower was built between 1853 and 1858 to prevent the shipwrecks that frequently occurred in this area. Several interpretive panels will tell you more about this site. You can also go on a 45-minute guided tour for a small fee. Climb the 122 steps to the top of the tower and admire an impressive Fresnel lens up close. You’ll be captivated by the fascinating history of this site and the spectacular view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. If you’d prefer to stay at ground level, you can also enjoy a virtual tour. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit this iconic lighthouse!

Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse

The Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse is located in an area that was first named Pointe-à-la-Faim (Hunger Point) after shipwreck survivors spent a harsh winter on this site. The English then called it Fame Point, which was eventually translated back into French as Pointe-à-la-Renommée (which is what Fame Point means). The lighthouse’s claim to fame is that it’s the most travelled in the world! Built in 1907, it was dismantled and moved to Québec City in 1977, only to be returned to its original location 20 years later, thanks to the efforts of a group of committed locals. Visit the exhibitions in the lighthouse to learn more about this fascinating history as well as that of North America’s first marine wireless station (installed here by Marconi). In the evening, don’t miss the dazzling digital sound and light show projected directly onto the lighthouse!

Cap-de-la-Madeleine Lighthouse

Located at the mouth of the Madeleine River near the village of Sainte-Madeleine-de-la-Rivière-Madeleine, the Cap-de-la-Madeleine Lighthouse has stood guard over the waters of the St. Lawrence for over a century. Learn more about this light station during a visit to the lighthouse and the adjoining museum, which houses hundreds of artefacts and period items related to the history of this area. In the assistant lightkeeper’s house, discover a gift shop selling local handicrafts and enjoy a cup of coffee or bite to eat on the patio as you admire the view of the St. Lawrence.

La Martre Lighthouse

As you drive along Route 132, you can’t miss the La Martre Lighthouse: nestled between the St. Lawrence Estuary and the cliffs, this bright red tower will suddenly appear around a bend in the road near La Martre, a charming village of some 250 inhabitants. Built in 1876, it’s one of the rare wooden lighthouses still standing, having survived the wave of modernization in the early 20th century. Go on a guided tour to learn about the history of this site and how the light system works with the help of an impressive Fresnel lens, a masterpiece of optical engineering. You can also climb to the top of the tower to admire a magnificent view of the sea. At the end of the tour, don’t miss the opportunity to operate a miniature version of the foghorn, an experience that will immerse you in the soundscape of the lightkeepers of old.

Cap-Chat Lighthouse

Relax and rejuvenate surrounded by nature as you visit the Cap-Chat Lighthouse in Cap-Chat. Wellness retreats and workshops are offered in the spring and fall, providing visitors with the opportunity to stay in the lightkeeper’s house and experience living in harmony with the tides under the light of the tower, which has recently begun to shine again. Outside of these periods, the lightkeeper’s house can be rented for a few nights, offering an authentic experience in an enchanting setting. You can also go for strolls along the shoreline to admire the surrounding scenery—be sure to follow the trail to the lookout, which offers a breathtaking view. A complete change of pace and scenery awaits you here!

Matane Lighthouse

Built in 1907, the Matane Lighthouse is the most urban of the St. Lawrence lighthouses. Inside the lightkeeper’s house, you’ll find a tourist information office for the area as well as a museum, which houses a vast collection of photos, models, tools and other items related to the maritime history of La Matanie. Go on a guided tour of the lighthouse and climb the 57 steps to the top of the tower. From there, you can admire the immensity of the St. Lawrence Estuary as well as the town of Matane and the surrounding area.

Gaspésie is a fascinating region to discover, with beautiful lighthouses that will mark your progress around the peninsula. Whether you’re a maritime history buff, a photography enthusiast or simply in search of beautiful landscapes, you’ll love the lighthouses of Gaspésie! So, what are you waiting for? Go on a trip around the Gaspé Peninsula and fall under the spell of these timeless sites.

Author Patrick Matte

Patrick Matte took photos of all the traditional lighthouses in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence over a period of nearly 12 years. During his travels, he developed a passion for this maritime environment. As a volunteer for the Corporation des gestionnaires de phares du Saint-Laurent, an organization that promotes the lighthouses of the St. Lawrence, he has forged ties with the people who protect and admire these heritage monuments.


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