The Québec maritime Blog
Are you curious by nature and fascinated by history? You’ll find lots of interesting sites to visit in the Îles de la Madeleine! Museums are a rich source of information that will help you get to know and understand this region during your trip. Here are a few sites you’ll want to add to your itinerary.
Visit the Veterans Museum in Grosse-Île to discover the impact that the major global conflicts of the 20th century had on local communities. Through the museum’s interpretive panels and artefacts as well as the anecdotes told by the guides, you’ll gain a better understanding of the reality of the Islanders who served (and often risked their lives) during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War as well as that of their families. A visit to this museum is one that you’ll never forget!
Little Red School House
Right next door, you can step back in time once again as you visit the Little Red School House. Located in a bright and welcoming former one-room schoolhouse, this museum will plunge you into the daily lives of schoolchildren of all ages, who used to all be taught in the same classroom. The schoolhouse contains the original blackboard as well as wooden desks and various artefacts that will immerse you in this fascinating and not-so-distant world. The museum’s collection, which also includes old photographs, along with the passionate work of the guides will give you an excellent overview of the way of life of the Islanders, especially those in the local English-speaking community.
Entry Island Museum
The only inhabited island of the archipelago that’s not linked to the others by road, Entry Island is a real gem of a destination! As soon as you set foot on this island, you’ll feel like you’re in another world. Visit the Entry Island Museum to learn all about the rich history of this area, which is home to an English-speaking community and was used seasonally by Mi’kmaq hunters. Thanks to the generosity of the locals, who donated a fine collection of artefacts (mainly household items as well as farming and fishing equipment), you can learn more about the lives of the Islanders of yesteryear. Guided tours are a great way to get a feel for the local culture!
The best way to meet local artisans and learn about their trades and know-how is to visit the Islands’ economuseums! There are four in the Îles de la Madeleine, each one as unique and interesting as the next.
Learn all about cheese and how it’s produced by visiting the Fromagerie Pied-de-Vent cheese factory in Havre-aux-Maisons. Once you’ve watched cheese being made from the milk of their herd of Canadienne cows, you’re sure to want to take some home with you. And don’t forget to greet these cows before you leave!
Not far from there, you can meet the Arseneau family at the Fumoir d’Antan smokehouse where you’ll learn about the history and traditional methods of smoking fish. You can also visit the only original smokehouse buildings still in use on the Islands. This is a captivating and mouth-watering experience!
On Grosse-Île, Grandma’s Bakery is currently developing Grandma’s Table, a culinary space that will showcase traditional dishes made by the archipelago’s English-speaking community while also passing on knowledge to visitors. Keep an eye out for it! In the meantime, stop by and enjoy some of the bakery’s delicious freshly baked goods (closed for 2023)!
Nearby is La Maison du Potier where Géraldine Cyr and her team demonstrate the various stages involved in making pottery. You’re sure to fall in love with the magnificent pieces made on site! You can also try your hand at creating your own by participating in the workshops offered at this pottery studio.
The La Grave heritage site is a must-see in the Îles de la Madeleine. As you stroll through the wooden buildings once used by the fishing industry but now occupied by shops and restaurants, you’ll become aware of how important this site was to the development of the archipelago. Continue your journey through time at the Musée de la Mer, which overlooks the heritage site. This sea museum offers exhibitions related to the Islands’ maritime culture (fishing, navigation, shipbuilding, etc.). Finally, be sure to visit the Seal Interpretation Center at the other end of the archipelago in Grande-Entrée where you can learn all about the four species of seals found on the Islands. After your visit, you’ll certainly be able to better identify these marine mammals!
The archipelago has lots of stories to tell… as do the locals! In addition to appreciating the Islands’ high-quality exhibitions and places full of history, you’ll enjoy meeting the Islanders, who love sharing local oral history! Enjoy your discoveries of the Islands!