The Québec maritime Blog
What would island life be like without lighthouses, those majestic maritime guardians that dot the coast? In the Îles de la Madeleine, they have been part of the landscape since the 19th century and have prevented many shipwrecks off this archipelago in the middle of the perilous Gulf of St. Lawrence. Since I’m a big fan of these beacons of light, I made sure to visit several of them during my stay on the Islands, taking in every detail and soaking up their dream locations. I wasn’t disappointed: the lighthouses of the Îles de la Madeleine lived up to all my expectations!
The Islanders are a bit spoiled when it comes to lighthouses. There are six in total, all on different islands, and I got to admire half of them: of the three I didn’t get to see, two are hard to access (the ones on Brion Island and Rocher aux Oiseaux) and the third is on Entry Island, which isn’t linked by land to the rest of the archipelago. Still, I was delighted to see three of them—all the more so since each has its own distinctive charm.
Located on the south side of Havre Aubert Island, the Anse-à-la-Cabane Lighthouse, which is the oldest and tallest on the Islands, stands 17.1 metres (56 feet) tall atop a red sandstone cliff along the shore. Built in 1870 and 1871, the lighthouse is a hexagonal wooden tower, painted white and capped with a red lantern with a rounded roof. It is one of the last lighthouses built in this style: this type of construction was abandoned in 1871 in favour of a square design. Nearby, you will find the lightkeeper’s house and other outbuildings. The lighthouse was automated in the early 1970s, about a hundred years after it was first built. It had a total of three lightkeepers; Edmond Boudreau was the last of them.
The Anse-à-la-Cabane Lighthouse is located in a pastoral setting, with rolls of hay in the nearby fields and colourful houses in the background. Although this is the oldest lighthouse on the Islands, you wouldn’t know it: the vibrant red of the roof contrasts beautifully with the brilliant blue of the sky.
Also known as: Amherst Island Lighthouse, Havre Aubert Island Lighthouse, Millerand Lighthouse
Located at the tip of Cap Hérissé in L’Étang-du-Nord, the Borgot Lighthouse has had an eventful history. First built in 1874, it was restored in 1913 and then demolished in 1967 to be replaced by a metal tower, which was replaced in turn by the present structure in 1987. The design of the current lighthouse is simple: the white plastic tower is circular, with an octagonal lantern. It offers a great view of the sea and all along the coast.
Surrounded by steep red sandstone cliffs, the Borgot Lighthouse is located in a truly exceptional setting that almost gives you the impression you’re on Mars. The whole jagged coastline of the island unfolds before your eyes, while the typical local houses blend in with the sea and sky. The contrasting colours of this site—green grass, red sandstone, blue water and white clouds—made this one of my favourite spots on the Islands… and I’m sure I’m not the only one to have fallen under the spell of this delightful place at first sight!
Of all the lighthouses in the Îles de la Madeleine, locals and visitors alike love this one particularly because it’s a great place to admire stunning sunsets. The site exudes serenity—as you contemplate the beauty around you, you’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world and all your worries will melt away. It’s like stepping into a picture-perfect postcard!
Also known as: Cap-aux-Meules Lighthouse, Cap Hérissé Lighthouse, L’Étang-du-Nord Lighthouse
An iconic symbol of the Islands that has been photographed countless times, the Cap Alright Lighthouse is located at the eastern tip of Havre aux Maisons Island. Although it’s the region’s smallest and most recently built lighthouse (standing at 8.3 metres, or 27 feet, tall), the simplicity of the building draws the eye. The lighthouse is a wooden square-tapered tower built in 1928 using a design that dates back to the late 19th century. Its location is no coincidence: the waters off Cap Alright have been considered hazardous since the 16th century, as evidenced by mariners’ reports from that period.
With Entry Island in the background and the jagged coastline that surrounds the lighthouse, this whole area is breathtaking. Between the cormorants lined up on a rock in the shape of a drinking horse’s head and the magnificent beach at Anse Firmin, the view is spectacular. Many other rock formations evoke interesting shapes and figures, such as a man’s face that seems to be sculpted in stone.
Also known as: Cape Alright Lighthouse, Île-du-Havre-aux-Maisons Lighthouse, L’Échouerie Lighthouse
These three red and white lighthouses are guardians that keep watch over the landscape, each with its own personality that reflects the diversity found in the archipelago. The lighthouses of the Îles de la Madeleine are definitely worth photographing and are attractions worth visiting in a region that is already unique.
Many thanks to Le Québec maritime for hosting me in the Îles de la Madeleine so I could discover the marvels of this region, including these three lighthouses.
Loose translation of “Les phares des Îles de la Madeleine” by Nathalie Katinakis