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Monday, day 4: Relax on a gorgeous Îles de la Madeleine beach.
Saturday, day 2: Cruising on the St. Lawrence River. The best way to connect with the Islands Montréal - Îles de la Madeleine CRU I S E
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Discover the Îles before even arriving With CTMA Cruises, you’ll set foot on th Îles de la Madeleine as soon as you board the ship in Montreal. Our charming crew promises you a warm welcome, delicious cuisine and the unrivalled hospitality of island residents for a sea journey unlike any other. Climb aboard this one week cruise to Les Îles de la Madeleine and benefit every day from unforgettable vistas and encounters. cruisesctma.ca 1 888 986-3278
DIRECTLY ON THE BEAUTIFUL beach OF DUNE DU SUD
An open door to the sea
• 15 fully equipped cottages • 125 campsites • Minigolf • Community hall
436, chemin de la Dune-du-Sud Havre-aux-Maisons (Québec) G4T 5P4
1 2 8 -> Getting There 12 -> Profile of the Region 14 Îles de la Madeleine Overview 26 Our Must-see Attractions 30 The Islands 52 -> Travel by Experience 54 Live the St. Lawrence River 64 Vibrant Islands and Festivities 74 Culture and Living History 106 Great Outdoors 120 Winter Fun 122 Local Flavours 138 Additional Activities 144 -> Accommodations and Places to Eat 168 -> General Information 3
5 6 4
170 Useful Information 182 Travelling in Québec
184 -> Index 188 -> Maps and Pictograms
Use the regional map located in the section at the end of the guide to find your way around easily.
www ✉ In addition to the tourism guide, we have a selection of web tools to help inspire, plan and share your trip. Website With the “Where to sleep,” “What to do” and “Where to eat” sections (among others), enjoy a visit on our website to not only plan your stay, but plan your days after landing here. Your best reference! tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com
Newsletter Subscribe to Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine’s newsletter so you won’t miss out on what our archipelago has to offer during your stay! Customize our messages according to your interests and be among the first people to know about our contests, promotional offers and so on! tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com/newsletter Blog Whether you’re interested in history, food, music or sports, the blog displays authentic posts discussing all that and much more — all written by Madelinots and new Madelinots. They all chose to anchor on the archi- pelago, but enjoy the insularity in their own way. Follow their unique stories! tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com/blog
# www Instagram Follow us on Instagram to see the Islands through the eyes of both Madelinots and visitors. Discover all about the Islands throughout the seasons. Add the destina- tion’s official hashtags to your posts or tag us in your stories for a chance of being reposted on our account! @ilesdelamadeleine #fousdesiles #ilesdelamadeleine
/tourismeim /tourismeIDM /atrim
With the sorting, the environment is smiling!
Milk and juice containers
Fruits, vegetables and peelings
Bags and plastic wraps
Meat, bones, poultry, fish
Styrofoam food containers
Paper and cardboard
Bottles and plastic dishes
Rags and damaged clothes
Bottles and jars
Hand towels and cotton swabs
Canned food and aluminium
Diapers and sanitary pads
For more information: Telephone: 418 986-3100 www.muniles.ca
Getting There – General Information
Automobile To travel to the Îles de la Madeleine by road, visitors must go to Souris (Prince Edward Island) and take a ferryboat to the archipelago. The ferry crossing takes 5 hours. See p. 10 for more details about the ferry service. Visit our website tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com and use our online application to generate a complete itinerary to get to the town of Souris, Prince Edward Island. To get to the port of Souris From the province of Québec: take Trans-Canada Highway (Québec Autoroute 20) to Rivière-du-Loup. From Rivière-du-Loup there are two possible routes: a) Through Edmundston: take Route 85/185 South (Québec), then Highway 2 (New Brunswick). In Moncton, take exit 467B to get onto Highway 11 North/15 East to Shediac (Edmundston-Shediac: 502 km). b) Through the Matapédia Valley - Please note that this is the longest route: take Route 132 East until you get to Matapédia. Then continue on to Pointe-à-la-Croix where you can cross the bridge to New Brunswick and take Route 11 from Campbellton until you reach Bathurst, then Route 8 to Miramichi, and then again Route 11 to Shediac (Campbellton-Shediac: 286 km). From the United States Take Interstate Highway 95 to Houlton, Maine and the Canadian border, then New Brunswick Highway 95 to Woodstock. Then take the Trans-Canada Highway (NB Highway 2 East). In Moncton, take exit 467B to get onto Highway 11 North/15 East to Shediac.
> Air Travel
Aéroport des Îles de la Madeleine (YGR) 210, chemin de l'Aéroport, Havre-aux-Maisons Several aviation companies offer daily flights to the Îles de la Madeleine. Flight time can vary from one to 4 hours depending on the departure city and the number of en-route stops. Air Canada Jazz 1 888 247-2262 ― aircanada.ca Local airport counter: 418 969-2888 Daily flights from Gaspé, Québec City and Montréal. Pascan 1 888 313-8777 ― pascan.com Local airport counter: extension 3300 Flights from Saint-Hubert (Montréal), Québec City, Mont-Joli and Bonaventure. ø Buses and train It is possible to travel by train to Moncton (N.B.), and then by bus to Charlottetown (P.E.I.). From there, you would need to take a taxi or shuttle from Charlotte‑ town to Souris. However, we recommend you contact
your travel agency. East Connection 902 892 6760 ― 902 393- 5132
Open: June to September. Off-season, by appointment. Prince Edward Island Shuttle between Charlottetown and Souris.
General Information – Getting There
Common portion of the different paths
å Cruise CTMA Cruises 418 986-3278 ― 1 888 986-3278 ― cruisesctma.ca Open: June 14 to September 30. CTMA Cruises offers the one and only cruise to the Îles de la Madeleine from Montréal between mid-June to late September. During this one-week cruise, the beauty of the St. Lawrence River will be revealed to you alternating between moments of relaxation, various activities and a range of gourmet delights. During a 3-day stay on the Islands, you will discover the archipelago’s breathtaking seascapes. The discovery of Gaspésie is also on the program. To correspond to your liking, we offer the following packages: Taste, Art & Culture and Cycling. A cruise aboard the CTMA Vacancier is most certainly the best way to connect with the Islands. In June and September, theme cruises and special itineraries are offered. [ad p. 3]
From Shediac: you can reach Cape Tormentine along Highway 15 East, then get onto Highway 16 East to take the Confederation Bridge to Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island. Highway 16 East becomes Highway 1 after the bridge. From Borden-Carleton, take Highway 1 to Charlottetown, and then Route 2 East to Souris (Borden-Carleton to Souris: 137 km). Confederation Bridge 1 888 437-6565 ― confederationbridge.com 2020 Toll rates Two-axle vehicle: $48.50 Motorcycle: $19.25 Toll to cross the Confederation Bridge: the toll varies according to the type of vehicle. Bridge tolls are col- lected when leaving Prince Edward Island. Attention: the bridge is closed to cyclists and pedestrians. A shuttle bus is provided.
435, chemin Avila-Arseneau, Cap-aux-Meules 418 986-3278 ― 1 888 986-3278 ― ferryctma.ca Open: year-round. Access the Îles de la Madeleine through this 5-hour crossing between Prince Edward Island and the Madelinot archipelago. Get on board and appreciate the crew’s courtesy, the comfort of the ship and the many services offered. You will live a true experience of relaxation and pleasure on the sea. To make a reserva- tion, please have on hand the type and plate number of your vehicle, dates of travel and credit card for the deposit. Reservation online at ferryctma.ca.
2020 Rates (one way)
High season June 15 to Sept. 14
Low season Sept. 15 to June 14
Adult (13 to 59 years old)
$55.40 $44.80 $27.90
$35.80 $29.15 $14.45
60 years and over
Child (5 to 12 years old) Child (5 to 12 years old)
Units (driver, passengers and cyclists not included) Vehicle (21 feet and less) * Commercial truck, trailer, RV (longer than 21 feet), bus
* For a non-commercial truck longer than 21 feet: $103.30 + $8.40/additional ft. All rates are in Canadian dollars. A fuel surcharge could be added to the rates.
Atlantic time zone (one hour later than elsewhere in Québec). The following times are departure times of the ship. Passengers must be at embarkation deck one hour prior to departure. Reservations required at all times. Departure from Îles de la Madeleine Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday April 1 to 30, 2020 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am May 1 to June 30, 2020 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am July 1 to August 23, 2020*
8 am 8 pm
8 am 8 am 8 pm
8 am 8 am 8 am 8 pm
8 am 8 pm
August 24 to September 7, 2020*
8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am
September 8 to September 30, 2020 8 am
8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am 8 am
October 1 to November 30, 2020 December 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
October 1 to November 30, 2020 December 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
1 pm 1 pm
1 pm 1 pm
1 pm 1 pm
* Additional crossings may be scheduled if required. Notes : - Scheduled additionnal crossings: Monday, May 18, 2020, Monday, October 12, 2020. - Changes in schedule: Monday, April 13, 2020 (replacing Sunday, April 12), Sunday, December 27, 2020 (replacing Saturday, December 26). Schedule is subject to change without notice. Please confirm your crossing with CTMA. Any changes to the schedule are available: - On the website at ferryctma.ca - By calling 1 888 986-3278 (dial 2 followed by 1 and listen carefully for any changes in the schedule).
Profile of the region
14 -> Îles de la Madeleine Overview 20 -> Features of the region 26 -> Must-see Attractions 30 -> Sectors 30 Havre Aubert Island 34 Entry Island
36 Cap aux Meules Island 44 Havre aux Maisons Island 47 Pointe aux Loups Island 48 Grosse Île and Grande Entrée Islands
Profile of the region – Îles de la Madeleine Overview
Îles de la Madeleine Overview
For the visitor arriving on the Îles de la Madeleine, the effect is an immediate and total change in scenery. As far as the eye can see, the islands and the dunes seem to blend, break apart, and then stretch out of sight, as if dropped by a whimsical sea. The Islands look like tiny landmasses enlivened by brilliant green valleys, spec tacular white sandy beaches, deep red cliffs, and the countless shades of blue that the sea and the lagoons reflect from the sky.
Havre aux Maisons, Île du Cap aux Meules, and Île du Havre Aubert. Two other islands are part of the archipelago as well: Île d’Entrée, inhabited and located 10 km east of Havre-Aubert, and Île Brion, 16 km north of Grosse-Île (see area map p. 192). Since January 2002, the whole archipelago has been grouped in two municipalities: the Municipality of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine and the Municipality of Grosse-Île. There are other smaller islands and islets that are part of the Îles de la Madeleine archipelago: Rocher aux Oiseaux, Île aux Goélands, Île Paquet and Le Corps-Mort among others.
An archipelago in the Gulf The archipelago is located in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or more precisely: 215 km from the Gaspé Peninsula, 105 km from Prince Edward Island and 95 km from Cape Breton Island. The Islands take the shape of a half moon fishhook stretching across a distance of 88 km in a south-west/ north-easterly direction. Islanders live in the Atlantic Time Zone, one hour ahead of the rest of the Province of Québec. When it is noon in Montréal, it is 1 p.m. on the Islands. The archipelago is composed of about a dozen islands, six of which are linked by long, thin, sand dunes. The names of the islands (from north to south) are: Île de la Grande Entrée and Grosse Île, Île de la Pointe aux Loups, Île du
Îles de la Madeleine Overview – Profile of the region
A mild maritime climate
The discovery of the Islands Micmac Indians poetically named the archipelago “Menagoesenog”, a word that means “islands brushed by the waves”. Well before the arrival of the first Europeans, Indians were coming to the Islands to fish and to hunt for seals and walruses. In June 1534, Jacques Cartier entered in his diary the first written report about the Islands, “Les Araynes” (from Latin “arena”, meaning “sand”). He named the first islands he came upon “Isles de Margaulz“ (today Rocher aux Oiseaux) and Île Brion. In 1629, Samuel de Champlain wrote on a map, “La Magdeleine”, near the area of Île du Havre Aubert. However, it is said that the archipelago’s present name, Îles de la Madeleine, was given in 1663 in honour of Madeleine Fontaine, wife of François Doublet de Honfleur, conces- sionaire of the Islands. Under the French Regime, the Islands were passed from hand to hand without lasting colonisation or exploitation. The land of the Acadians… In 1755, the destiny of the Acadian people took a tragic turn. It was the beginning of the “Grand Dérangement” (the Exile) and the Acadian population was deported all across the continent. Between 1761 and 1765, some who managed to escape the deportation came to the Îles de la Madeleine, where all commerce was controlled by Richard Gridley, including the walrus hunt and the Islands’ fisheries. In 1792, following the French Revolution, other families came from Miquelon under the leadership of their priest, Jean-Batiste Allain. Together they began the true colonisation of the Islands. Under British control in 1763, the Islands were annexed to Newfoundland, until 1774 when the Québec Act annexed them to Québec. Isaac Coffin was granted the Îles de la Madeleine in 1798, and he forced the Madelinots to pay rent on lands that they had cleared with their own hands and occupied for more than 25 years. This feudal domination, along with the merchants’ exploitation of the fishermen, created a climate of misery and injustice, which explains the Islanders’ continued emigration to new lands. Emigrating Madelinots founded several villages on Québec’s North Shore: Blanc-Sablon (1854), Havre-Saint-Pierre, Natashquan (1855), and Sept-Îles (1872). Only in 1895 did a Québec law allow the Madelinots to buy back their lands from the grant holder. Freed from colonial oppression, they began to overcome their difficulties and work towards self-sufficiency.
The maritime climate enjoyed by the Islands is markedly different from that of the mainland. The huge water masses around the archipelago temper the weather and create milder conditions in each season. On the Islands, winter (December to March) is mild, with the least amount of annual frost in the Province of Québec. Spring (April to June) is cool. There are no heat waves in summer (July to September), and fall (October and November) is warm; in fact, these sunny warm temperatures often last to the end of September. The ever-present winds are part and parcel of the Islands’ unique climate. At the end of August and September, the water surrounding the Islands can reach up to 18 °Celsius (64 °F), and up to 21 °Celsius (70 °F ) in the lagoons and bays. It is the low tides (see low tides p. 118) and especially the shoals near and around the archipelago that help warm the water in the lagoons as well as the water surrounding the Islands. Constant winds greatly influence the climate of the Islands. Stronger in winter than in summer, wind speeds vary between 17 and 40 km/hr (9 to 22 knots). In summer, the prevailing winds are from the southwest, and in winter, they are from the northwest. The archipelago has everything: climate, wind, various bodies of water and more than 300 km of beautiful beaches — all it takes to be a wind, surf and water- sport lover’s paradise.
Profile of the region – Îles de la Madeleine Overview
the start by the melodic intonations of the Acadian accent, the marine terminology, and archaic words from ancestral France. There is no Madelinot accent, but several Madelinot accents. And none of these accents is any more Madelinot than the rest. If truth were told, there are almost as many accents as there are islands! In some places, like Havre-Aubert, they rrrrrrollll their “r”s, and elsewhere, as in Havre-aux-Maisons, they just flatten them out of existence. In between, there is a whole range of variations that people try to imitate, even when they come from here. The French spoken in the Islands is rooted in Acadian French, a language that came from the ”Old French” that was spoken in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the Islands, the pace of life is different, it is said that time flows to another rhythm; in the Islands… it’s not the same… The Islanders have a natural sense of hospitality, a trait that adds charm and warmth and provides a sense of relaxation and comfort for a newcomer. Madelinots are also very proud of their culture and of their special environment, and are glad to share this with others.
… and a country of the sea Madelinots are only too familiar with the trials and tribulations of maritime life. Many tragic shipwrecks have been recorded (more than 400), and these were more often than not foreign ships swept ashore in storms while passing the Islands. Survivors often decided to make the Islands their home. Legends and extraordinary stories colour the Islanders’ oral tradition, kept alive from the time when they lived in almost total isolation. Although modern methods of communication have eased this isolation, the Madelinots still maintain their unique way of life and retain their distinctive accent. In 2018, the population totalled 12,551 inhabitants including five percent Anglophones, largely of Scottish descent. A unique francophone culture The keys to the originality of Madelinot culture lie in its Acadian and Québec influences and its history of profound isolation. Once, shipwrecks and maritime commerce were its principal contacts with the outside world. This culture is still vibrant today, in the language, the arts, the economy, and in the maintenance and development of the land. This originality gives the Islands a little something extra… a difference which, when coupled with the landscape, is a “breath of fresh air”. Visitors will be surprised and charmed right from
The water of the Islands has been recognized best municipality water, drink it by using reusable bottles!
Îles de la Madeleine Overview – Profile of the region
Islands for all seasons The archipelago offers year-round activities. Whether you come in the warmth of the fall to enjoy the golden colours, during winter to experience the white ice fields in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, during the spring to breathe June’s fresh tonic air and eat fresh seafood, or in the summertime, without the oppressive heat, there is something for everybody. Come discover the Islands any time of the year! At the end of February and into early March, the seals arrive on the ice pack around the Islands. Observation of “white coats” (seal pups) on the ice fields by helicopter is a unique product offered on the Islands. March is also time for the traditional festival of Mi-Carême. From mid-May to mid-July, sea products are at their very best. This is also the ideal time for photography, hiking, bird-watching or observing wild flowers and butterflies. Why not take advantage of the fish and lobster in May and June and come with a group of friends, your professional association, your walking club, etc.; have your annual “spring break”, a meeting, or a convention and take the opportunity to taste the first fresh lobster available on the market, “Lobster Nouveau!” The end of August is the perfect time for wind sports. Windsurfing, kitesurfing, acrobatic kite, and sailing: get your “rigging” ready and come practice your favourite sport in the superb winds of the Islands. The fall light is fantastic for photography; migratory birds stop on the Islands to rest; what could be more relaxing than a long walk on a deserted beach with a fresh breeze to clear your mind! Relaxation guaranteed! In the archipelago, hospitality has no season, and nature unveils new secrets all year-round.
An economy based on fishing and tourism The primary industry of the Islands is its fisheries. The fishing industry dominates activities on the archipelago. Visitors will feel its pervasive influence in language, cooking, and numerous fishing ports. In order of importance, commercial fishing comprises: lobster, scallops, snow crab, fish (cod, sole, mackerel, herring, ocean perch, shark and smelt); and shellfish (mussels, baby clams and surf clams). Tourism is the second most important industry on the Islands. Tourism is growing steadily, attracting visitors looking for peace and quiet, in an unspoiled setting, with a unique culture and heritage. Agriculture is an important economic activity on the Islands. Sustainable agriculture, allowed the first settlers to survive, and now it is considered an expanding industry. Local produce includes eggs, cheese, beef and honey and, in season, local market gardeners offer fresh vegetables and herbs. Look for products marked “Le bon goût frais des Îles de la Madeleine” (the good fresh taste of the Islands). Salt mining is another important economic activity which brings major revenues to the local economy. This salt is used during the wintertime for de-icing roads.
Going out to explore on foot, by bicycle, car or kayak, is a way to discover the varied flora, fauna and the charming countryside. A palette of wonderful colours brings the landscape to life, illuminating the variety of its vegetation and landforms. These rich colours come from the archipelago’s three main elements: the Islands’ rock core (islets and islands), the sand dunes, and the waters (interior bays, lagoons, and the sea). Wonderful vistas and spectacular sights are scattered throughout the region. Panoramic routes (in blue on each of the island maps) are a good way to enjoy much of the beautiful scenery that the Islands have to offer.
The Islands The islands and islets of the archipelago are in fact the visible part of a shoal (a type of underwater plateau) on which the islands rest. The islands, connected by sand dunes, make up the archipelago. Each island is a rocky mass with bare, round hills, which the inhabitants call “buttes”. The hills are interspersed with valleys that form plateaus gently sloping toward the sea. The inhabitants, the Madelinots, have established their homes and farms near these areas. The Cliffs There are two types of rock in the cliffs on the Magdalens: gray sandstone and red sandstone. The gray sandstone is more resistant to erosion and is found in some of the highest landforms. The red sandstone cliffs take spectacular shapes that offer a constant vision of wonder to the eye. This is sedimentary rock, 99% quartz covered with a thin layer of iron oxide, and it is this latter which gives the stone its reddish colour. The rock is highly friable, and suffers greatly from erosion. Created by the incessant battle between the sea and the land, visual wonders await the eye of the visitor all along the cliffs.
The Sand Dunes Sandpits represent over 60% of the Islands’ coastline. The sandstone cliffs eroded, washed and transported by sea, loses its red colour with time to turn into white sand. This is how dunes and furrows (Sillons) are formed, and you can see a perfect example of these formations at Dune du Sud. Dunes are where you can see the true individuality of the Madelinot landscape. The maritime flora differs in many ways from those on the mainland and is not found in such concentrations anywhere else in Québec.
BEWARE: Never walk close to the edge of the cliffs, because the eroded areas are not always visible and they can be extremely dangerous. Stay at least 3 metres (10 feet) away from the edge, especially when you see this sign.
Use the wooden walkways to access our beaches to protect our fragile environment.
The Lagoons When two parallel dunes meet, they trap water between them and create a lagoon connected to the sea by narrow channels. These natural basins have some very important ecological functions. The lagoons are an excellent habitat for the growth and reproduction of lobster, herring, smelt, and other marine species. The warm, calm waters of the lagoons are also safe areas to enjoy windsurfing. In addition, the banks of the lagoons shelter large populations of marine and coastal fowl. The Beaches Most of the sand on the beaches starts off as sandstone eroded from red cliffs. Once in the salt water, material from the cliffs loses its thin film of iron oxide and is carried around the islands by longshore currents before being deposited in spits whose general orientation is determined by the direction of the prevailing winds and currents. Once dry, the sand appears white. It accumu- lates on beaches and helps create the dunes. Grains of sand on the beaches are in constant movement, and the width of any beach is directly related to the volume of material available and the strength of the waves and currents, which carry it.
The Flora Since dunes cover 30% of the total land area in the Îles de la Madeleine, the most characteristic flora in the archipelago appears in the dune environment. The dunes are covered with beach grass, the most important plant in the archipelago’s ecology, since it is essential to the stabilization of the dunes. Its rhizomes fix the sand in the dunes, preventing it from invading and filling up habitats located behind the dunes such as lagoons and ponds. Other plants also grow in the dunes: seabeach sandwort, beach pea, bayberry, black crowberry, starflower, not to mention the magnificent poverty grass, one of the rarest plants in Québec, which is found in the Îles de la Madeleine. In salt meadows and marshes, there are many species of grasses such as carex, bulrushes and spartina. Other species present in this environment: Baltic rush, black sandwort, glasswort, and marsh rosemary. Peat bogs are a perfect environment for sphagnum moss and two carnivorous plants: the pitcher plant and the dew plant, as well as the grass-pink orchid and the hare’s tail. Dense colonies of gorgeous blue flag grow in freshwater marshes, as do the buckbean, the giant bur reed, the marsh cinquefoil and the sheep laurel.
BEWARE: Extra caution is mandatory on strong wind days. Some of the beaches often get powerful currents, which can be sneaky and drag you away from shore. Those beaches are identified in the list of beaches on pages 60-61.
The forested area is not large, but it does offer many interesting plants. Wild berries may be found in some places but be careful not to go on private land without permission: • Wild strawberries: last three weeks in July, in fields and at the edge of forests. • Raspberries: end of July and beginning of August, in clearings and in wooded areas. • Blueberries: August, on the dunes and in the woods. • Cranberries: end of September, on the dunes, at the edges of ponds and in damp fields. In summer, fields, meadows, even the roadside are ablaze with wildflowers of all kinds. Some of the plants you can expect to see: ox-eye daisy, buttercup, red clover, white clover, alsike clover, rabbit-foot clover (Trifolium arvense), bird vetch, yellow melilot, Canada goldenrod, pearly everlasting, fireweed, foxtail barley. Beautiful natural sites • Pointe de l’Est National Wildlife Area (Grosse Île Island): marshes, ponds and the beach (see p. 48-51 and 114). • Havre aux Basques Bay (Havre Aubert Island): fields and salt marshes. Take the Chemin de la Dune-de-l’Ouest or Chemin de la Pointe-des-Canots (see p. 30-33). • La Montagne (Havre Aubert Island): coniferous forest and forest flora (see p. 30-33). • Dune du Sud (Havre aux Maisons Island): peat bogs in the area of Les Sillons (furrows) and along the dune to Grande-Entrée (see p. 44-46).
Fauna Even though the archipelago is not large, it is home to many species of birds and mammals. Due to their location in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Îles de la Madeleine are a favourite site for birds. The most important of the marine mammals, both because of its number and its importance, is the seal. Four different species of seals can be found around the Îles de la Madeleine (Gray, Harbour, Harp and Hooded). There was a time when walrus was also common, but they disappeared in 1799. Whales can sometimes be observed offshore, although they are rather rare. The Gray Seal and the Harbor Seal Gray Seals live in the temperate waters along the shores, near rocky islets and sand banks. Their large size makes them easy to spot (adults weigh 275 kg on average). Other identifying marks include widely spaced nostrils in the shape of a ‘‘W’’, dark color, black head and rather long muzzle. The Harbor Seal is a much smaller animal. Average adults weigh in at around 90 kg and are much lighter in colour than the Gray Seal. Their nose is shorter, their nostrils closer together in the shape of a ‘‘V’’. Gray Seals and Harbor Seals can be observed in their natural habitat at the east end of Brion Island, at the end of the Grande Échouerie Beach in Grosse-Île, at Corps-Mort Rock and on the Dune du Sud Beach, just opposite the Grande-Entrée fishing port. Seal watching tours are offered in the Havre aux Maisons lagoon. This is a wonderful, exciting experience, but can only be experienced in good weather (see Live the St. Lawrence River, Sea Excursions (Boat/Zodiac) section, p. 55, Marine Mammal Watching, p. 59).
Fishing Industry Fishing is the principal activity on the Îles de la Madeleine. It supports the economy and shapes the Islanders’ way of life. For the visitor, fishing is a subject of curiosity, a reason to explore. Take a walk around the many wharves, where you can often enjoy a pleasant chat with the fishermen. For seafood lovers, fish markets, restaurants and fish plant outlets offer a variety of fish and seafood (see the Local Flavours section, p. 122 and Places to eat section, p. 160). Shellfish Lobster Every year in May, fishermen set their lobster traps off the coast. The lobster season, which usually runs for nine weeks, is strictly regulated. In the last decades, effective conservation measures were put in place in collaboration with the lobster fishermen themselves. A total of 325 fishing licences are issued for the Islands. Each boat sets the same number of traps. Spawning females and lobsters inferior to regulation size must be set free. The total lobster catch reaches over 3 million kilograms yearly. Lobster fishermen leave port early in the morning to reach the fishing grounds where they haul their traps by 5 a.m. They empty their traps, then re-bait them and return them to the water. With their catch aboard, the fishermen return to their homeports in the afternoon to prepare for the next fishing day. Fishing interpretation activities are available (see p. 54, 86, 92). You can also participate in the lively activities on the opening day of the lobster fishing season in May (see Events, p. 64). Snow Crab This deep-sea shellfish has been fished commercially in the Islands for many years. Fishermen travel far from the Islands’ shores to set large traps. The snow crab lives in very deep water, 45 to 275 metres. It is fished in April or May as soon as the ice is gone from the Gulf. The season lasts only until the fishermen have attained their quotas.
The Harp Seal Every year at the beginning of March, hundreds of thousands of Harp Seals come to the ice floes around the Islands when it is time for the birth of their youngs, which are called “whitecoats”. The whitecoat’s fur is long and white. The baby is weaned approximately two weeks after birth and his mother leaves him on the ice to go off and mate. Helicopter excursions to observe whitecoats in their natural habitat on the ice floes are available in the Îles de la Madeleine (p. 120). See also the Seal Interpretation Centre (p. 95). Birds Approximately 300 species of birds live on or pass through the Islands. These birds have different statuses: nesting, migratory, residents, visitors and wintering species. Many of the nesting birds live in colonies: the northern gannet, the blacklegged kittiwake, the great blue heron, the double-crested shag, the thick-billed murre, the atlantic puffin, the razorbill, etc. The Piping Plover, an endangered species, nests on beaches. It is found nowhere else in the Province of Québec except here in the Islands. You should avoid their nesting grounds (identified by signs) between May 1 and August 15. Two other bird species coming to the Islands — the roseate tern and the horned grebe — are also on the list of species at risk. Many of the migratory birds are coastal species: Sandpipers, Plovers, Yellowlegs, Turnstones, the Whimbrel and the Hudsonian Godwit. There are only about 25 resident species on the Islands, from the common crow to the rare snowy owl. Note that the number of individual species reaches its maximum at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn when migratory birds stop on the Islands. For information on available packages and the best watching sites, visit the Bird Watching section, p. 112 or tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com/birdwatching.
Features of the region – Profile of the region
Licensed fishermen may drag for scallops for a period of up to 14 days, spread out from April to July. The scallops are usually shucked on board. The “scallop” that most people really enjoy eating is the adductor muscle or meat. In addition to fishing, scallops are also produced through local farming (scallop culture) which allows year-round marketing. Shellfish Digging and Gathering Even though shellfish digging is authorized almost anywhere on the shores of the Islands, the harvesting of shellfish less than 125 metres from a wharf is banned at all times and some zones may be closed because of contamination. A new regulation, in effect since 2004, permits harvesting of 300 clams measuring a minimum of 51 mm (2 inches) per day, per person. Blue Mussel Blue mussels have been farmed on the Îles de la Madeleine since 1984. The farmed mussel has many obvious advantages in quality compared to the wild mussel. Suspended while it grows, the mussel contains no sand or grit, it grows faster and provides two to three times more meat than the wild mussel. Fish Herring This pelagic species was once used almost exclusively as a mash or bait in lobster traps. For a very long time it was the mainstay of the Madelinot fishery, and was exported, salted or smoked, in huge quantities. In the 70s, a drastic decrease in the stocks led to the destruction of most of the smokehouses in the archipelago. An example of these exceptional buildings of another age still exists near the port of Pointe-Basse in Havre- aux-Maisons. This smokehouse has been renovated to revive this important activity. You will find there the Smoking ÉCONOMUSÉE® (p. 94, 128).
Mackerel Mackerel is a pelagic species found in large schools off the Islands at the end of the summer. You can fish mackerel by hand line from all the Islands’ ports. Groundfish (Ocean perch, cod, flounder and others) Groundfish, considered the mainstay of the Islands’ fishing industry until the beginning of the 90s, were destroyed by overfishing. A moratorium has been imposed on ocean perch and cod fishing so that the stocks can regenerate to the point where the commercial fishery can be reinstated. Other groundfish species like Atlantic halibut, American plaice, yellowtail flounder and flounder are all commer- cially fished around the Islands. Recreational fishing Recreational fishing is regulated. For information about the opening dates and conditions, you must contact the Fisheries and Oceans local office at 418 986-2095. Various interpretive activities are offered as a fishing trip. If, in the worst case, it does not bite, the ride itself will allow you to discover the Islands from the sea. You will find certified companies that offer this type of excursion in the Live the St. Lawrence River, Sea Excursions section, p. 54.
We ask visitors to help by sorting their garbage while they are on holidays.
Lighthouses The lighthouses are a testimony to the history of navigation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and to the lifestyle that came with it. Lighthouses are iconic features of Les Îles and they represent a considerable heritage value. For a long time, they have literally been a lifeline for the many ships that sailed the coasts of the islands as well as for the Islanders living from marine activity. The territory of the Magdalen Islands has six light houses. Four of them are easily accessible: Entry Island, Anse à la Cabane (Bassin, Havre Aubert Island, p. 31), Borgot (L’Étang-du-Nord, Cap aux Meules Island, p. 39) and Cape Alright (Havre aux Maisons Island, p. 44). The two others are those of Rocher aux Oiseaux and Brion Island (p. 114). Their design and the variety of materials used reflect the changing lights in this island country. Despite the presence of these lighthouses, the archipelago became the second largest ship graveyard in North America. The Musée de la Mer and other cultural and heritage centres exhibit their collections to the public of shipwreck artifacts, photographs or records illustrating the history of the Islands, navigation and Islanders of all backgrounds. See the Public Places and Historical Sites section, p. 91, and Museums, p. 92.
Traditional Architecture The houses on Les Îles have become an important attraction with their colours and originality, but above all else for the way their location respects the landforms and natural habitats. They are naturally part of the landscape. Domestic architecture: houses, barns and “baraques” (hay sheds) are quite simple and painted in a variety of bright colours. The Acadian and French origins of many of the Madelinots as well as some influence from New England can be seen in the architecture of their homes. Several details are typical of the traditional home: the small enclosed porch, corbel, veranda, painted or stained cedar shingles. There are many fine examples of traditional houses throughout Les Îles. The whole of the Historical site of La Grave constitutes without a doubt a privileged heritage site where the traditional architecture is showcased. This is a perfect illustration of how an inhabited area can be trans formed. Its designation as a historical site is an initiative that has encouraged other similar interventions such as the reconstitution of Anse de L’Étang-du-Nord, largely inspired by the traditional architecture of the islands.
u Our M u s t - s e e A t t r a c t i o n s l a r F a v o u r 10
Entry Island: 7 km 2 of Charm
Its bare landscape and green hills will seduce you. It is the only inhabited island that is not attached to the remaining of the archipelago. There, the Madelinots are quite isolated and live to the rhythm of the sea. During your stay, climb up the Big Hill to admire the breathtaking panorama. Discovering Entry Island is like discovering the Islands for the second time! Find Out More p. 34
The Historical Site of La Grave
This authentic place has been able to preserve its archi- tectural flavour. There, you will find a great variety of artists and artisans, restaurants and boutiques. You will also have the opportunity to discover the history of the Islands while doing the self-guided tour of La Grave. Find Out More p. 91
Eat Locally Whether you step into a snack bar, a bistro or a “fancy” restaurant, you are guaranteed to taste the flavours of the Islands! Do not hesitate to try out the traditional local fritters (“beignets” or “banax”), pot pies (“pot-en-pot”), seal products and seafood options, including lobster, crab, scallop, smoked herring and more! Fun Facts: Select our specialties from the Specifications drop-down menu on the Where to eat page on our website to discover which restaurants have these
delicious products on their menu! Find Out More p. 160‑166
Go on an Adventure Discovering the Islands by the sea is one of the best ways to appreciate this environment! Why not explore the shores, observe the caves and cliffs or do bird watching? Take advantage of your stay to learn more about the work of a fisherman, which arouses curiosity and is a great reason to do an excursion. Fun Facts: Discover who’s offering sea fishing excursions or boat/zodiac excursions in the Live the St. Lawrence
River pages in this guide. Find Out More p. 54
The Food Trail The products of the archipelago benefit from a great reputation, and it doesn't come as a surprise. The sun's warming rays and the salty breeze that characterize these islands located in the heart of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are in favour of the cultivation and breeding of exceptional products. The Madelinots are proud of their local products and enjoy sharing all the archipelago's treasures with the visitors. Since you can feel their passion at every moment spent with them, why not
pay them a visit directly on site? Find Out More p. 122-137
Seal Observation In wintertime, hundreds of thousands of harp seals come back on the ice field surrounding the archipelago to give birth. Enjoy a helicopter ride and fly to the ice field to discover these amazing seals disappearing into the white ice. Seal observation is an unforgettable and unique experience! Fun Facts: This unique experience had been selected as one of National Geographic's Top 25 best trips for 2020. Find Out More p. 23, 120
Tales of Island Living Amazingly full and vibrant, the heritage of the Îles de la Madeleine maintains a perfect balance between tradi- tional and modern. Stories, legends, music, sea trades and lifestyles are transmitted from one generation to the next. The Islanders are justly proud of their Acadian heritage and their traditions, and they are always glad to introduce them to visitors. Fun Facts: Consult the Tales, Legends and Storytelling and the Events sections in this guide to discover the local artist! Find Out More p. 86, 64
The Sentiers entre Vents et Marées
This walking trail goes around the Islands through natural and groomed trails, as well as back roads and long stretches of beaches (where possible). As for the level of difficulty, it ranges from intermediate to difficult. The trails suggest some stops in the various villages of the archipelago. With its outstanding landscapes, this long trek offers a combination of physical, cultural and spiritual aspects. Find Out More p. 115
Arts Circuit On the Îles de la Madeleine, inspiration is everywhere you look. Using all kinds of materials, the creators make unique pieces that will please you. Let yourself be tempted by the diversity that offers the visit of an art gallery, boutique or workshop. While visiting some creators, you will have the chance to be creative and produce your own piece! Charm and surprises are guaranteed! Find Out More ad p. 96‑97
The Beaches With more than 300 km of white sand beaches, a day to bask under the sun is a must! Channel your inner child while building a sand castle and collecting seashells, or enjoy your beach time to go on an invigorating walk. With the endless sea, going for a swim is mandatory. Warning: you may lose track of time. Here, we don’t know the time, we have the time. Take it! Find Out More p. 60-61
Located at the southern end of the archipelago, the two main communities on Havre Aubert Island are Havre-Aubert and Bassin. They are subdivided into townships: Portage-du-Cap, La Baie, La Montagne, L’Anse-à-la-Cabane and L’Étang-des-Caps. The first Acadians to arrive on the Islands settled in Havre Aubert Island. This island has a lot to offer: beautiful natural surroundings, good restaurants, cultural activities, shops and cafés where you can sit back and relax. Havre-Aubert is a member of the Association des plus beaux villages du Québec (most beautiful villages of Québec).