The Québec maritime Blog

Culture and Discoveries: 7 Experiences Not to Miss
  • Fort Ingall, Bas-Saint-Laurent
    Gabrielle Desjardins

Culture and Discoveries: 7 Experiences Not to Miss

History and culture buffs will love visiting the maritime regions of Québec, which offer a multitude of activities and sites where you can satisfy your curiosity and create memories of a lifetime. Are you planning a trip to Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Côte-Nord or the Îles de la Madeleine? Here are 7 experiences you won’t want to miss!

Travelling back in time to the 19th century

During your vacation in Bas-Saint-Laurent, be sure to visit Fort Ingall to discover an authentic reconstruction of a British campaign fortress built in Témiscouata in 1839. Through the various exhibitions and activities available on site, you’ll learn all about the border conflict between the United States and Canada at the time and can discover artefacts that were found during archaeological digs. To make sure you don’t miss anything, go on an audio tour of the fort! Dressed in period military and civilian clothing, the site’s guides recreate the life that once reigned within this field fortification.

Practical info:

  • Fort Ingall is in Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac.
  • The site is open from mid-May to Canadian Thanksgiving.
  • Two types of accommodations are available on site: a historic dormitory, which offers 24 beds, and Dr. Landry’s room. You’ll also find a variety of lodging options in the Témiscouata area.

What else to do: Plan to be at the site at 1 p.m. to witness the Noon Gun, a British tradition of firing the fort’s cannon at that time every day. If you’re over 18, you can also light the powder yourself!

Immersing yourself in the life of a submariner

Located on the outskirts of Rimouski, still in Bas-Saint-Laurent, the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site offers a unique experience in Canada: an audio tour of the Onondaga submarine! See the ship’s powerful engines, living quarters, sonars and torpedo room as you discover what life was like for the 70 crew members who lived in this 90-metre (300-foot) underwater behemoth. The tour is available in English, French or Spanish. The site also offers an outdoor interactive tour that will give you the opportunity to discover how the submarine worked, including flotation, propulsion and crew survival.

Practical info:

  • The site is in the Pointe-au-Père area, just east of downtown Rimouski.
  • The Empress of Ireland Museum is open from February 22 to October 14, 2024, while the Onondaga submarine and the light station are open from June 8 to October 14, 2024. Opening hours vary, depending on when you visit.
  • Many accommodation options are available in the Rimouski area.

What else to do: Just a stone’s throw from the submarine, you can dive into the history of the Empress of Ireland at the museum of the same name. Learn all about this ocean liner that sank on May 29, 1914, off Sainte-Luce-sur-Mer near Rimouski, an event that remains Canada’s worst maritime disaster. Just across from the museum, you can climb the 128 steps of the second tallest lighthouse in the province!

Visiting unique gardens

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the International Garden Festival! Taking place at the gateway to the region of Gaspésie, this annual summer event presents about 20 contemporary gardens designed by world-renowned landscape architects and artists. You’ll love wandering through these playful, interactive installations that will appeal to visitors of all ages! This summer’s theme is “Ecology of Possibility.” For the occasion, designers were invited to imagine the future of the garden. Come and see the winning projects for yourself, including one from the International Garden Festival in Chaumont-sur-Loire, France!

Practical info:

  • The International Garden Festival takes place in the Reford Gardens, in Grand-Métis.
  • The festival runs from June 22 to October 6, 2024.
  • Many accommodation options are available nearly, including in and around Rimouski, Sainte-Flavie and Mont-Joli.

What else to do: Located at the heart of the Reford Gardens, the Estevan Lodge houses several exhibitions, including Elsie Through the Eyes of…, which is dedicated to the gardens’ creator, Elsie Reford. You’ll discover many facets of this exceptional woman, who was designated a historical figure by the Québec government on International Women’s Day this year!

Discovering francophone song

For over 40 years, the Petite-Vallée Song Festival has welcomed music lovers to the enchanting setting of the north side of the Gaspé Peninsula for a week of festivities and friendly encounters. This year’s festival will feature at least 60 shows! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to discover performers from Québec and Acadia, including singer-songwriter (and festival spokesperson) Marie-Jo Thério as well as Sara Dufour, Chloé Sainte-Marie, the indie rock band Karkwa and many others.

Practical info:

  • The festival mostly takes place in a variety of venues (a big tent, church, boat hangar, etc.) in the village of Petite-Vallée.
  • The event runs from July 25 to August 3, 2024.
  • Various lodging options are available in the area. Be sure to book your stay in advance.

What else to do: If you’re planning to visit Gaspésie at some other time in the summer, you can still enjoy a rich summer program at the temporary venue of the Théâtre de la Vieille Forge. The actual theatre is currently being rebuilt and will be ready to welcome you in 2025.

Hunting phantoms in nature

A brand-new immersive experience is debuting at Parc du Bourg de Pabos, in Gaspésie, this summer: Fantöm: The Hunt. During this outdoor activity, which can be enjoyed day or night, you’ll be provided with binoculars to help you succeed in your mission: to capture, as quickly as possible, the spirits of historical figures who haunt the park, in order to help them leave this world. For younger visitors or those who are easily spooked, another version of the tour is offered, with living artefacts instead of ghosts. This unique concept will give you a completely new perspective on the history of Bourg de Pabos!

Practical info:

  • The park is in Pabos Mills, near Chandler.
  • The site is open from mid-June to late September; the new activity will be available as of June 2024.
  • Over 200 tent and RV sites are available in the park’s campground. You can also find other lodging options nearby, between Bonaventure and Percé.

What else to do: To learn even more about the history of this area, visit the park’s interpretation centre. Artefacts unearthed during archaeological digs, a replica of a fishing cabin and an open-air exhibition will help you understand the role of Pabos under the French regime.

Exploring an island recognized by UNESCO

Did you know that Anticosti is on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List? This is because this island in Côte-Nord is renowned for its remarkable paleontology: over 1440 species of fossils are found here. It was the study of these fossils that demonstrated that changes in climate and sea level were responsible for the first mass extinction on Earth some 444 million years ago, at the end of the Ordovician Period. Today, Anticosti is the best place in the world to study this event. Stay in Parc national d’Anticosti and immerse yourself in this fascinating history!

Practical info:

  • Anticosti Island is in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
  • To get there, you can fly from Montréal, Québec City or Mont-Joli.
  • The national park is open from June 20 to August 29, 2024.
  • Sépaq Anticosti offers various lodging options: campsites, cabins and rooms in a lodge. Packages including airfare and lodging are also available.

What else to do: Hiking trails can be found in many areas of the national park, which will give you the opportunity to discover many of the island’s natural attractions, including the Vauréal Falls, Jupiter River and Grotte à la Patate cave. You’re also bound to encounter white-tailed deer, a species that was introduced to Anticosti in 1896 and 1897 by Frenchman Henry Menier, who owned the island at the time.

Meeting talented local artists and artisans

When you visit the Îles de la Madeleine, you’ll quickly realize that you’re surrounded by talented people. No doubt inspired by the archipelago’s enchanting setting, the Islanders are renowned for their creativity. Visit boutiques, art galleries, studios and workshops as well as local food artisans to see for yourself! You’ll be charmed by locally made pottery pieces, sand sculptures, soaps, jewellery and other creations, and then you’ll be delighted by equally locally made cheeses, smoked fish, beers and other gourmet products! And no matter what site you visit, you’ll meet memorable and authentic people… What more could you ask for?

Practical info:

  • The Islands are accessible directly by plane or by car, which involves taking a ferry from Souris (Prince Edward Island) to Cap-aux-Meules.
  • The archipelago is obviously accessible year-round, but the opening hours of the sites you’ll want to visit will vary. Inquire when planning your trip.
  • Many accommodation options are available throughout the Islands. Be sure to book your stay well in advance!

What else to do: Do you have an artistic bent or want to step out of your comfort zone? Why not participate in a creative workshop? Some of the Islands’ artisans offer such opportunities, particularly in pottery and soap-making studios. As well as taking part in a fun activity and immersing yourself in the local culture, you’ll be able to take your creation home with you!

Are you ready to discover our culture and history? Start planning your trip to the maritime regions of Québec now!

Categories What to Do

Author Anne-Josée Pineau

Born in Bas-Saint-Laurent, Anne-Josée Pineau loves this region and is delighted to introduce others to it. Never far from the sea, she’s fascinated by lighthouses and could live on seafood alone! On this blog, she likes to write about our regions’ unusual attractions, make your mouth water by describing local delicacies, and pique your interest by revealing some of the hidden beauty found in Québec by the Sea. In other words, she wants to provide you with lots of ideas for an unforgettable vacation!

Post a comment

(0) comment