The five-million ton Percé Rock dominates the Gaspésie coastline.
I didn’t expect to see the end of the world…in Québec. Yet there it was: A tree-covered precipice jutting out into the vast sea. Dubbed Gespeg (“Land’s End”) by the Indigenous Mi’kmaq people, it’s just one small, albeit spectacular, corner of Forillon National Park, situated on the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula.
The rugged, windswept Gaspésie region spans more than 30,000 square kilometres and is home to four national parks, 13 species of whales and hundreds of thousands of seabirds. Seeking fresh air, food and wildlife spotting, I’d come to Québec’s coastal region on a mother-daughter getaway with my mom, Debbie.
After checking into Hotel Baker, a cozy bolthole with scenic bay views, we make a beeline to the local museum for a primer in Gaspésie culture. “There is just so much history in this area,” says Katherine Yockell, education coordinator at the Musée de la Gaspésie. “Of course, we have Jacques Cartier—who landed here in 1534—but there’s also our Indigenous roots and the cod trade.”
Yockell is the first of several young Gaspésiens we meet who are bringing a fresh perspective to Québec’s maritime region. She guides us through 400 years of local history, pointing out highlights of the museum’s revamped permanent collection, which debuted in June 2021.
We learn about Cartier’s explorations, the boom and bust of the cod fishery, and the daily lives of Gaspésiens through the centuries. Among the museum’s quirkier pieces is a clown costume, once worn by native son and politician René Lévesque, and a Second World War torpedo fired in the Battle of the St. Lawrence. The museum also hosts eclectic touring exhibits. During our visit, we view contemporary digital art.