The Québec maritime Blog
Located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence Estuary, the Côte-Nord region is a true natural gem. Home to vast wilderness areas, long sandy beaches and iconic lighthouses, this region is a favourite among nature lovers and adventurers. Keep reading to learn more about the lighthouses of Côte-Nord.
Bon-Désir is a great place to learn about marine life and maritime history! At the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre, in Les Bergeronnes, the light station is the starting point for discovering this area: a tour of the lighthouse and outbuildings is a must! Discover the foghorn shed, from which sound signals were sent to navigators, as well as the lightkeeper’s house, which houses an exhibition, and the assistant lightkeeper’s house, which will take you back in time to the 1960s. The octagonal lighthouse, which is 11 metres (36 feet) high, was built in 1958. Nearby, you can enjoy a picnic area and then follow a trail to the edge of the St. Lawrence Estuary. You’ll be amazed by the beauty of the surrounding landscape and the rich marine life all around you. Belugas and other whales, seals and seabirds are just some of the wildlife species you can observe in their natural habitat in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.
Standing on a peninsula at the end of a 10-km (6-mi.) paved road, magnificent Pointe-des-Monts Lighthouse was built in 1830. At the time, it was the second to be built on the St. Lawrence after the one on Île Verte. A small wooden bridge will take you there when the tide is high. Be sure to visit the museum in the lighthouse: on each of the seven floors, you’ll find out more about the fascinating lives of the lightkeepers, the shipwrecks that occurred in this area as well as local history. At the very top of the tower, 21 metres (69 feet) above the ground, you can step outside and admire a 360-degree view. Under normal circumstances, you can also spend the night in one of the 4 rooms in the lightkeeper’s house.* The Pointe-des-Monts Lighthouse is a must-see heritage attraction in this region!
*Unfortunately, the lightkeeper’s house sustained extensive damage during a storm in December 2022 and is therefore not available for rent in the summer of 2023.
Set off to explore the islands in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve! The Petite Île au Marteau Lighthouse is located on the island of the same name on the eastern side of the archipelago, off Havre-Saint-Pierre. Several private companies recognized by Parks Canada provide marine transport services to the archipelago, and some also offer guided excursions. Once you’re on Petite Île au Marteau, a well-marked trail will take you from the wharf to the lighthouse, giving you a taste of the unique scenery found in this national park reserve. The light station buildings are well-identified; you’ll also find interpretive panels on site that recount the history of the island. Visit the foghorn shed and the classroom set up for the lightkeepers’ children, which will give you a glimpse into what life was like on the island. Soak up the tranquil beauty of this site as you relax and enjoy an indoor or outdoor picnic.
Discover the wonders of Île aux Perroquets (Parrot Island), which is also within the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. Home to an octagonal lighthouse built in 1951, the island is a great place to observe razorbills and Atlantic puffins. In fact, it gets its name from the puffins that have long lived there (and are nicknamed “sea parrots”). To get to the island, take a boat from the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan with one of the private companies recognized by Parks Canada. Once there, a short trail will lead you to the highest point on the island, where you’ll find the light station. Each building has been carefully restored after being abandoned for several years. Discover the permanent exhibition on the history of the lightkeepers, explore the outdoor interpretive walk and go on a guided tour of the lighthouse. You can also stay at Auberge de l’Île aux Perroquets for a unique and authentic experience. A visit to this island is a must for nature lovers, history buffs and lighthouse enthusiasts!
The Pointe-Nord Lighthouse is located on the northern tip of wild Anticosti Island on a point that’s also known as Cap-de-Rabast, a reference to the fact that this is a spot where boats could turn back to protect themselves from storms. The lighthouse stands 22 metres (72 feet) high and is the tallest octagonal tower on the St. Lawrence. You can spend the night here in one of the two lightkeeper’s houses on the edge of the gulf.
Located less than 20 km (12 mi.) from Port-Menier, still on Anticosti Island, Auberge de la Pointe-Ouest welcomes visitors to a former light station converted into accommodations. In this tranquil spot you can explore the coastline at your own pace, observe abundant wildlife, admire magnificent sunsets and discover the nearby vestiges of the village of Baie-Sainte-Claire. Rent either of the lightkeeper’s houses, which have been carefully renovated to offer modern comforts while preserving their historic charm.
Visit these lighthouses to immerse yourself in the past while discovering spectacular landscapes and majestic marine animals as well as the region’s rich culture and heritage. If you’re looking for an authentic experience, you won’t want to miss the lighthouses of Côte-Nord!