The Québec maritime Blog

Culture and Discovery: 6 Fun Outing Ideas!
  • Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site
    Mathieu Dupuis

Culture and Discovery: 6 Fun Outing Ideas!

Info and Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Vacation

A visit to the maritime regions of Québec is an opportunity to meet people and discover their culture and rich maritime heritage. Whether you’re enjoying a good meal, visiting places steeped in history or attending live music shows, you’ll be amazed by all that our regions have to offer. Here are some ideas for outings to include in your vacation plans this summer!

Petite-Vallée Song Festival

What: A 10-day festival that showcases the musical talent of the next generation of French-speaking singers and songwriters while featuring renowned and up-and-coming artists in an enchanting seaside setting

Where: Petite-Vallée (Gaspésie)

The best time to visit: The song festival takes place from June 27 to July 6, 2019, but the Théâtre de la Vieille Forge (the festival venue) presents a varied evening program throughout the summer.

Helpful tip: Since it will take you several hours to drive to Petite-Vallée, why not make yourself a playlist for the car that includes hits by the artists you’ll see at the festival? This means you’ll already have their songs in your head and can even sing along with the crowd if you feel like it! Visit the festival website for a complete schedule (in French only).

Bonus: One of the highlights of the festival is the performance by La Petite École de la Chanson (Little School of Song). Every year, an artist-in-residence is chosen for the duration of the festival and, for one evening, 350 children from Gaspésie and beyond come to pay tribute to this artist. Imagine all these young people singing in harmony, accompanied by an artist they admire! The warmth, camaraderie and talent you’ll witness during this show reflect the atmosphere of the entire the festival. Enjoy!

Parc du Bourg de Pabos

What: A site in nature that includes an interpretation centre and two immersive multimedia walks as well as a campground, restaurant, beaches and hiking trails

Where: Chandler, in the Chaleur Bay area (Gaspésie)

The best time to visit: Late June to early September

Helpful tip: Are you a history buff? Visit the interpretation centre to discover daily life in the Grand Pabos seigneury during the 18th century! In recent decades, archaeological digs have found the remains of an isolated fishing outpost of New France, Indigenous artefacts and traces of the British army’s passage. You can admire many of these objects on site, as well as take part in a simulated dig to learn more about the methods used by archaeologists.

Bonus: Enjoy the two immersive experiences offered on site! Ura, a brand-new multimedia walk, tells the story of water and the sea through eight different stations. Right whales, fishing, Indigenous peoples and shipwrecks are some the themes explored during this walk, which you can discover during the day or in the evening. Nova Lumina, on the other hand, is a 1.5-km (1-mi.) night walk along the sea and through the forest that will transport you into the heart of a story where you get to be the hero: the stars are mysteriously falling from the sky and washing up on the shore… It’s up to you to return them to the sky! Projections, virtual reality and plays of light await you during this magical experience that is sure to delight visitors of all ages!

Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

What: An interpretation site that will immerse you in a maritime world by giving you access to a lighthouse and submarine as well as fascinating exhibitions!

Where: Rimouski (Bas-Saint-Laurent)

The best time to visit: Early June to mid-October

Helpful tip: As you approach the site, you can’t miss the 90-metre (300-foot) Onondaga submarine, the first to be open to the public in Canada! Follow an audio-guided tour to find out more about the daily lives of the 70 crew members who lived aboard this vessel and learn how the submarine worked. You’ll enjoy listening to the voice of the captain as he guides you through the various parts of the submarine, from the control room to the torpedo room.

Bonus: Be sure to visit the Empress of Ireland Museum! While touring the various exhibitions, you’ll relive the history and tragic shipwreck of this immense ocean liner, which sank in the waters of the St. Lawrence on May 28, 1914, killing 1012 people. Fifty years later, divers brought many artefacts from the wreck to the surface. Among other things, you can admire the original letters that were on the ship’s stern.

Parc national de Miguasha

What: A national park included on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List that showcases fossils dating back some 380 million years!

Where: Miguasha, in the Chaleur Bay area (Gaspésie)

The best time to visit: Early June to early October

Helpful tip: Take the time to explore the fossil-rich cliff by participating in the “In the Eyes of the Geologist” activity. Accompanied by a park warden/naturalist, you’ll find answers to all your questions about geology, fossiliferous formations and fossil digs. Who knows? You may even witness new discoveries, as an average of 500 new fossil specimens are removed from the cliff every year to be added to the park’s collections!

Bonus: Don’t miss this opportunity to admire the park’s star attraction, the only complete specimen of Elpistostege watsoni ever discovered on the planet! Elpi, as the fossil is nicknamed, is a fascinating fossilized fish from the Devonian period. It is of great scientific importance, as it has led to a better understanding of the evolution of vertebrates with legs, as well as the aquatic origins of humans. You can see it in the exhibition Elpistostege: The Origins of a Quest.

Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve

What: A richly biodiverse national park reserve made up of about 40 limestone islands and over a thousand granitic islands and islets

Where: Several private companies recognized by Parks Canada offer sea excursions to the islands of the archipelago, with departures from Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan and Havre-Saint-Pierre (Côte-Nord).

The best time to visit: June to September

Helpful tip: A good way to get to know and understand the treasures of the archipelago before you even visit it is to tour the exhibition Life Stories from the Mingan Islands. Housed in the Havre-Saint-Pierre Reception and Interpretation Centre, this exhibition presents the rich natural and cultural heritage of the Mingan Archipelago. Step back 465 million years in time as you discover the fossils in the display cases and on the handling table. Poems by Roland Jomphe, a well-known figure in the region, are included in the exhibition, immersing you in the unique atmosphere found on the archipelago.

Bonus: Plunge into the fascinating world of lighthouses! Visit Petite Île au Marteau, which is home to a light station dating back to the early 1900s as well as rare northern plants. On Île aux Perroquets (Parrot Island), you can visit a lighthouse built in 1888 where several famous lightkeepers lived. To take your adventure to another level, spend the night on this island. Enjoy 4-star accommodations in the lightkeeper’s or assistant lightkeeper’s house. This is also a great opportunity to admire the famous Atlantic puffins!

La Grave historical site

What: A classified heritage site made up of several buildings and structures related to traditional fishing. It also includes restaurants, cafés, shops, museums, a marina, a show venue, a fishing harbour and more.

Where: Havre Aubert Island (Îles de la Madeleine)

The best time to visit: Open year-round, but outdoor cultural activities take place from early July to mid-August

Helpful tip: The La Grave site is a friendly and lively spot that is best explored on foot. You’ll meet all kinds of interesting people here, especially if you take the time to chat with the local artisans. These dedicated creators may reveal some of their secrets, in addition to sharing their love for the Islands with you. You’re also bound to find some great gifts and souvenirs here, including handcrafted soaps, handmade glassware and even art made with sand from the archipelago!

Bonus: Speaking of sand, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Atelier Côtier studio! In addition to admiring their original works of art made primarily with sand, you can also participate in a sandcastle-building workshop where you’ll learn some excellent tips and tricks! You’ll then want to build your own sand creations on the idyllic beaches of the Îles de la Madeleine. Let your imagination run wild!

 

As you can see, getting to know local culture is a great way to immerse yourself in a destination—and Québec by the Sea has many other surprises in store for you! For another glimpse of what awaits you in our regions, visit our Culture and Discoveries page.

 

Author Marie-Eve Lagacé

Originally from Gaspésie, Marie-Eve Lagacé loves both writing and her corner of the world, so she’s delighted to be able to combine these passions as the person responsible for this blog! Her favourite subjects are people, local culture and our regions’ unexpected (and sometimes unusual) treasures. Although she loves relaxing with a coffee and a good book, she also enjoys exploring new vistas and swimming with the salmon in the Matapédia River!

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