The Gaspé Peninsula

Perce Rock in the distance and Cap Blanc
[photo: Stephane Gauthier]
Another awesome place The Frimmster has visited is the southern side of the gateway of the St Lawrence River. It goes by many names. The Gaspésie (official name), or Gaspé Peninsula, the Gaspé or Gaspesia.  It is Quebec's fat bottom lip and it extends right into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The name "Gaspé" (say: gasp AY) may come from a Mi'kmaq (say: MIKK makk) word gespeg meaning "land's end" although according to Wiki, some think it may be a derivative of the Basque word for "shelter". My money's going with "land's end" because, well, obviously it isn't any kind of shelter, is it?

See what I mean by fat bottom lip?

This is a google image I captured of Percé Rock and nearby Bonaventure Island 
The area is all rugged cliffs and rocky hills as it is the northern extension of the Appalachian Mountain range. It's most famous landmark being Percé Rock (French: rocher Percé). I'm no linguist but I believe it's pronounced PEER say. At least that's how I say it. It means "pierced rock". Why?

Percé Rock
Because there is a hole in it. Also known as a natural archway, which sounds a lot better.

And Percé Rock is kind of big - 88 m (289 ft) high. Percé Rock appears from a distance like a ship under sail. It is one of the world's largest natural arches located in water (in a Canadian French speaking province where giving you a cot for your kid to sleep in is a major inconvenience and where merchants and wait staff refused to help you even if you were trying to speak French-class French to the best of your ability and where these same people depended on TOURISM for their living but I'm not judging) and is considered a geologically and historically-rich natural icon of Quebec.

[photo: John Sylvester]
Wiki says Percé Rock is one of the most unlikely tourist hot spots in Canada. Why? It seems a very likely place for tourists to me.

Percé Rock looms as a constant presence just offshore from Gaspé Peninsula's town of Percé. And what a cute, picturesque town it is! Regardez:

Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé harbour [photo: John Sylvester]
The harbour is still home to work boats, today, entrepreneurs offer whale watching, lobster eating, kayaking with seals, and all manner of other modern coastal delights. I also noticed a thriving shrimp fishery while I was there. Yes! Shrimp!

Canada's tallest lighthouse, at Cap des Rosiers has stood since 1858 
[photo: John Sylvester]
[photo: John Sylvester]
I didn't see any whales while I was there which was disappointing. For mammals as big as they are, they are really hard to spot.

Talk about rugged landscape! One time we drove up a hill to see the view and as we were coming down I looked behind me to see if the Lad was ok (he was about 3 years old and sound asleep) and had he not been strapped into his car seat he would have fallen out. His head was lolling forward. I thought we were going to slide off the face of the hill. 

Accessible by foot at low tide the rock is a gentle hike across tidal beds. The rock has about 150 different fossil species.

Perce Rock and nearby Bonaventure Island (below) is a migratory bird sanctuary
 for the northern gannet and about 16 other types of boids,
and has over 110,000 nesting birds, the second largest population in the world

I don't know about you, but I'm not that enamored of birds to want to trek around the island just to see them in their natural habitat. That's what zoos are for. But you might like that kind of thing.

I tried to find a photo of Bonaventure Island but there wasn't one showing the island in its entirety. Bonaventure Island looks like a giant table where it has been tipped over to the point where its west edge is in the water. The resulting cliffs on the east side are home to the gannets pictured above. Here are some from a photo collection I found here where they have a large number of beautiful photos from the area.

The Gaspé has a population of around 100,000, while Bonaventure,
despite the presence of houses, is uninhabited because
the province evicted everyone (about 35 families) in 1971.
Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island's north west side.
Bonaventure's western shore.

The Gaspé is also home to a rare gemstone known appropriately as Gaspeite. I have a fairly large slice of gaspeite in my collection and it's a little like the stone we know as turquoise only in my favourite shade of green. Gaspeite is found in Western Australia as well. And that's it for the world supply. 


Found this on eBay. They're asking $96 FYI
More about gaspeite here, The Gaspé Peninsula here, Bonaventure Island here and Percé Rock here.


Angie said...

So, you didn't really mention it, but Bonaventure was cleared of residents for the birds? Were the people compensated for this rude upheaval? It's a picturesque little island, nonetheless :)

Frimmy said...

Wiki says "The Province of Quebec acquired ownership of the entire island by act of expropriation in 1971" but isn't clear about why they evicted everyone.

I thought it was because the province turned it into a national park but that didn't happen until later and anyway, people can live in national parks ie: Banff National Park has several towns within its borders. However, I found a genealogical website discussing the Maloney's of Bonaventure that said the last Maloney living there was evicted for the bird sanctuary.

Angie said...

It seems extreme, evicting people from an entire island and more than just little sad. Unless they were bought out and were happy to go, but what are the chances of that? It was settled by the Irish, right? I'm sure it reminded them of home. To be told they had to leave would be crushing, I think.

Tonya said...

Oh, GODDAMMIT CANADA! Cover this shit up. I'm so tired of you showing off!


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