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August 30, 2006

Quebec 2006 - The Gaspe Peninsula

Gaspe - the hillsGaspe - Coast Guard Lighthouse

On Tuesday, August 22 right around Madeleine-Centre we made the turn from travelling north east to south east.  The St. Lawrence is still a river, but thinks it’s and ocean, it’s so huge.   The weather has been fine and the air is so clear – sunny days but chilly nights (actually quite cold).  Our view of the hills and the ocean is constant with Coast Guard stations and lighthouses on headlands and small villages tucked into the shore.

As we continued to the end of the Gaspe peninsula we passed through Cap-des-Rosiers, which for sailors is the demarcation point between the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  The road goes right through Forillon National Park, at the very tip of the peninsula. 

Village on the south shore

Of interest to our RVing friends – this last part of the road has been quite challenging.  We have had numerous grades of 10 to 14% and one quite long one of 18%.  On that one, we could smell the brakes by the time we reached the bottom. 

We spent the night of the 23rd in the town of Gaspe and with a population of 15,000 it is the major community for this part of the province.  It has a huge natural harbour and when Jacques Cartier sailed into it in 1534 he erected a cross claiming Canada for France.

Perce - first view

About 70 km further, as you come over a hill and drive around one more bend, there it is Perce rock, one of the most recognizable natural attractions in the country.  We have seen it a couple of times before but it is still an amazing sight.  

We stayed at a campground right in the village of Perce and walked from there to the downtown area and out to the rock.

The tide was low the following morning so we went as far as possible without getting wet.  At times the tide has a big enough swing that you can walk on dry land right to the rock, but not the day we were there. It is huge! The limestone rock is 1,545 feet long by 288 feet high and was formed about 375 million years ago.Perce at low tidePerce from the water  

Parc national de l’Ile-Bonaventure is an island about 2 miles off the coast and is recognized as the most significant Northern Gannet colony in North America.  More than 110 thousand Gannets and other rare species nest on the island every year.  It is a now a protected area with clearly marked walking trails.  We took a boat tour out around Perce rock and then were dropped off at the island.  The drop off point is on the opposite side from where the Gannet colony is and the shortest trail is 2.8 km directly across the island.

Gannet chick with adultGannet colony   

Pair of Gannets

The noise of thousands of these big birds – the wingspan is about 6 ft. and the body length about 3 ft. – is almost overpowering.  There are always birds taking off or landing as they dive for fish from up to 100 ft above the surface of the ocean.  They pair for life and return to the same spot every year to make their nest.  I can’t imagine how they can possibly find it. 

The trail leads right to the colony and they can be viewed from a few feet away.   We took a different trail (3.5 km) back that took us past some of the abandoned houses that once belonged to fishermen on the island.   The province is gradually restoring some of these buildings.

We left Perce on Saturday Aug. 26 and headed along the north shore of the Baie des Chaleurs.  Once again we are impressed by the care and colours of the homes.  Our impression of the Gaspesie Tourist Region is one of quality and beauty.(They could use some work on the road surfaces, though).  It has taken us 10 days to travel about 1,850 km and we have enjoyed it all.

We are on the way to Campbellton, New Brunswick and will write from there.

Bernie & Ross


Posted by Bernice at August 30, 2006 11:39 AM


Hi guys, looking forward to seeing you at our farm sometime this fall. So enjoying your journal.I am learning so much; even about my own province! Have fun.

Posted by: Lori at September 12, 2006 11:15 AM

Hi Bernice!

Always a pleasure to read your travel journal. It's giving me such great ideas for road trip destinations. Happy trails, and safe driving. See you back at 245 one day.


Posted by: Raff at September 12, 2006 06:43 PM

Hi there folks:getting cooler these days tho the weekend is supposed to be mid 20's
We are off to California tomorrow and back on the 19thth--our youngest is out there and we hope in to get a day or 2 sailing in SF Bay
All the best,Fay and Bill

Posted by: Bill Gee at September 12, 2006 07:33 PM

What gorgeous country--have the locations written down and will check them out again in the Atlas. We have made reservations at a time-share in Quebec for a week in June, 07 and then will spend another week traveling in the Maritime provinces before going to Maine for a week so I am really paying attention to all the info in your journals. Thanks!!!!!!
Sincerely, Bette

Posted by: Bette Andrew at September 13, 2006 02:21 PM