Gaspé, Quebec, Canada
Located in the Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine region of eastern Quebec, Canada, the city of Gaspé is situated on the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Here, a major indentation in the coastline forms the beautiful Bay of Gaspé, which stretches inland for approximately 21 miles (about 33.8 kilometres). Gaspé's territory includes the communities of Cap-aux-Os, Cap-des-Rosiers, Douglastown, Haldimand, Jersey Cove, L'Anse-à-Fugère, L'Anse-à-Valleau, L'Anse-au-Griffon, Penouille, Petit-Cap, Petite-Rivière-au-Renard, Pointe-Jaune, Rivière-au-Renard, Rivière-Morris, Sandy Beach, Saint-Majorique, Saint-Maurice-de-l'Échouerie, Wakeham, and York Centre. The city's territory occupies 556 square miles (1,440 square kilometres), and borders the sea and St. Lawrence River for approximately 81 miles (130 km).
Prior to the arrival of French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534, Gaspé, its bay and peninsula were long inhabited by seafaring Indians, the Micmacs. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, British officers and soldiers acquired free land in Gaspé. They were joined by many Loyalist settlers in 1784, and Europeans and New Englanders soon followed. From then on, Gaspé became the hub of the peninsula and an important commercial fishing centre. The exportation of dried, salted cod to Europe and other destinations gave rise to a number of fisheries, and was once the livelihood of nearly everyone in Gaspé. Gaspé opened its first post office in 1804, and was incorporated as a village municipality in 1855. From 1861-1866, the port of Gaspé was a duty-free port, making shipping the primary economic activity. By 1911, the railroad reached Gaspé. During World War II, some 3,000 soldiers were stationed at a naval base built at Sandy Beach and patrolled the Gulf of Saint Lawrence against German submarines.
The Gaspé Peninsula is divided into five regions. The Coast region lines the northwest side of the peninsula along the St. Lawrence Estuary, and includes charming historical villages, estates and landmarks. The Upper Gaspé region spans the central-north coast, and is renowned for its spectacular 'Parc national de la Gaspésie', located in the Chic-Choc Mountains, salmon rivers, mountains, and outdoor activities. The Land's End Region is highlighted by mountains, rivers, villages, Gaspé City, and Forillon National Park, the 'Jewel of Gaspé', at the peninsula's northeastern tip. The south features lovely beaches, farms, rivers and harbours, and historic Percé to the east. The mountainous west side of the Bay of Chaleur region covers the estuary of the Ristigouche River and features Miguasha Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Indian reserves and seaside resorts. The east side is home to splendid beaches, ancestral houses and port towns. The Matapedia is the only intracoastal region of the Gaspésie. The Metapedia Valley stands wild and steep to the south, and stretches north toward agricultural areas. The scenic southern tip of the valley is replete with lovely salmon rivers, villages, waterfalls and hiking trails.
In addition to its natural wonders, Gaspé delights visitors with attractions of historic and spiritual interest, including the Musée de la Gaspésie, Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse, Jacques Cartier Monument, Gespeg Micmac Interpretation Centre, and Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows. Delightful period architecture, houses, churches and other historic sites can also be found throughout the Gaspé Peninsula. An hour's drive from Gaspé lies one of the most historic settlements in Quebec. Established in the 17th century, Percé is also home to a pair of the province's most spectacular destinations; Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island.
The Gaspé Peninsula is one of Quebec's most scenic and popular tourist destinations. Its interior is dominated by a chain of mountains and rolling highlands, and offers beautiful landscapes of forested hills, deep ravines and craggy cliffs tumbling down to the coast. Roads and trails encircle and traverse the peninsula, and a section of the International Appalachian Trail travels through its mountains. Land-based excursions include picturesque nature hikes, walking trails, bicycling, bird-watching, sightseeing tours of national parks, and golfing. Gaspé's coastal beaches, crystal-clear waters, intimate coves and hidden inlets are ideal for whale-watching, canoeing, fishing, boating, and sailing. Sea-kayaking and scuba diving tours at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula are ideally-suited for exploring the spectacular landscape and exceptional seabed.
Going Ashore in Gaspé
The ship may be at anchor. Guests will tender ashore to the Sandy Beach Pier. The town centre can be reached via a 2.5-mile (four-kilometre) drive. Taxis are available in limited supply.
Paintings, handmade crafts, maple products, local products, and regional souvenirs are always of interest. A wide range of shops can be found in the Jacques Cartier Shopping Centre, located on Place Jacques Cartier, and the Carrefour Gaspé Shopping Centre. Artist and handmade items are available at Boutique Inspire, Créations Marie Gaudet, La Boutik Art Denis Nicolas, Atelier Agate et Caillou, and Atelier-Boutique Les Joyaux de la Mer. The local currency is the Canadian Dollar.
Hearty French-Canadian cuisine and fresh seafood, seafood mousses and snow crabs from the cold, crystal-clear waters off the Gaspé Peninsula make for a sumptuous meal ashore. Popular restaurants in Gaspé include La Belle Hélène, considered one of the best restaurants on the peninsula, Bistro Brise-Bise, Brûlerie du Café des Artistes, and Restaurant Terra Nova. In the Percé downtown area are Restaurant Biard and Auberge La Table à Roland.
Gaspé War Memorial
This monument is dedicated to the memory of 49 brave Gaspesians who gave their lives during World War I to liberate France, Belgium and Holland.
Jacques Cartier Cross
The granite cross on rue de la Cathédrale represents Jacques Cartier's taking possession of the territory in 1534 in the name of the King of France, François I.
Micmac Interpretation Centre
This centre portrays the unique lifestyles of the Micmac Indians of the 17th century. The site also includes a multifunctional building that houses a craft shop, workshop and an exposition centre.
A short driving distance from town are the hatcheries of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout. These species will be stocked, and later moved to different public facilities in the province of Quebec.
North America's only cathedral built entirely of wood, the historic Gaspé Cathedral contains a stained-glass window depicting Jacques Cartier taking possession of the territory.
Jacques Cartier Monument
The Jacques Cartier Monument is a National Historic Site composed of six cast-iron steles inspired by the dolmens of the explorer's native Brittany.
Located near the Jacques Cartier Monument, the Gaspé Museum features permanent and various seasonal exhibitions detailing the daily life of Gaspesians past and present, and revolve around the history, art, heritage, and culture of the region and its people. The museum also houses the Centre d'archives de la Gaspésie, regional archives that are open to the public for genealogical and other research.
Forillon National Park
Forillon National Park is a must for nature and photography lovers. Its pristine natural beauty and breath-taking diverse landscapes include beaches, cliffs, capes, rock formations, and flora and fauna that are alive with colours befitting the park's wide range of habitats. A video and various exhibits can be viewed at the park's Interpretation Centre.
Established in the 17th century, Percé is home to a pair of the province's most spectacular destinations; Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island. A boat tour around the rock and island is a scenic and memorable way to explore this renowned historical site.
Gaspé offers endless opportunities to embrace the pristine natural beauty of its peninsula and national parks. Outdoor and active enthusiasts can explore nature and walking trials, go bicycling along the ocean, bird-watching, horseback-riding, and golfing at the Fort Prével Golf Club, which features 18 beautiful holes by the sea. The teeming coastal and inland waters are superb for salmon-fishing, whale-, seal- and bird-watching, boating, sailing, and sea-kayaking and scuba diving tours at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.