We were up and out by 9:00 this morning...but before we left, I called Nature Ocean Chalets and Camping in Perce. The woman who answered the phone did not speak English but she passed me right over to a fellow who did...nice! After a conversation with him about our size, he said he had 2 options for us and we could choose which site we preferred upon our arrival. Happy with our decision to try another campground in Perce, we headed out for our day to explore the tip of the Gaspe Peninsula.
We started by driving a short distance back to the Forillon National Park Visitors Centre only to find that it didn't open until 10:00 but there were a couple of Park Canada fellows working outside (actually taking a break and sitting at a picnic table) who gave us some suggestions of what to do and see. We continued along highway 132 that follows the coast.
A multi-faceted lantern rests 34 meters high on its truncated conical barrel of elegant proportions. It was erected between 1853 and 1858. The exterior brick and stucco cladding of the stone tower was replaced in 1984 by white marble. The adjoining caretaker's house was demolished in 1956. New doors and windows were installed in the mid-1980s. The lighthouse is fully automated.
Cap-Bon-Ami, in the north sector of Forillon National Park, appears wilder and more rugged than the south sector. The end of the road in the north area leads to what most would deem the most beautiful view of Forillon! Arriving at Cap-Bon-Ami, one cannot help but notice it is an open book on geology with rock layers fully on display, each formed over thousands of years. The small ledges eroded over time are prime nesting real estate for marine birds. From March to August, cliffs and ocean teem with flocks of cormorants, murres, guillemots, gulls and most of all, black-legged kittiwakes, this notably being home to Eastern Canada’s most important colony of the species.
After parking our truck in the RV parking lot, we walked the rest of the way down to the end of the road and a picnic area with restrooms. From there, a trail takes you down to a spectacular viewpoint! That's it way down there...
This is also the trailhead for the Mont Saint-Alban trail that goes up to the tower, a 1.8 km one-way steep climb. We had planned on doing that hike but quickly decided that it was just too hot and humid out (temp 29C/85F but with the humidex, it was pushing 38C/100F). We ended up driving, stopping lots and doing a lot of walking!
Departing from Cap-Bon-Ami, the Mont Saint-Alban trail is well worth the hike and winds along a cliff-side. It is extremely steep at first – but don’t give up! On the way to the tower 5 lookout points, each with a different view, will provide a breathtaking spot to catch your breath.
The viewing platform is on the top right...
Instead, we walked down to the viewpoint...
You are on Le Quai rock, a natural deck overlooking Cap-des-Rosiers cove. Every angle features a picture-postcard landscape. Seaward, the Gulf of St. Lawrence seems to stretch as far as the eye can see. Along the shore, the wall of high cliffs between Cap-des-Rosiers and Cap-Bon-Ami is truly a magnificent sight.
There was also a stairway down to the beach...we did not go down...
Cap-Bon-Ami, wth its unique profile, stands at a bend in the line of cliffs stretching to Cap Gaspe. Its name honours a Guernsey Island cod trader, Helier Bonamy. He and Thomas LeMesurier were apparently the first Channel-Island merchants to settle in the Gaspe regiona around 1770.
A great spot for a selfie !
Three hundred and seventy-five million years old, Forillon's cliffs mark the culmination of the Great Appalachian chain. The sea and the freeze-thaw action of the changing seasons have carved the rocky coast, sculpting marine terraces, soaring cliffs, coves and caves with an artist's hand, a work of art in constant evolution.
Every year, thousands of seabirds gather on the park's cliffs, drawn by the fish-rich waters and refuge they need to reproduce. Colonies of seals live at the foot of the cliffs. In late May, the harbour seals give birth to their young. The grey seals reach the coast later, near the end of June and stay until December.
This large black bird with a hooked beak frequents both fresh and salt water. A highly agile diver, it chases and catches fish easily, returning to the surface to swallow them. It nests on wide ledges.
Nesting on the cliffs near CaBon-Ami, the Common Murre can be seen in flight or on the water.
It resembles the Razorbill, but has a finer, more pointed beak.
Builds its nest in the shelter of a crevice where the female lays one or two eggs.
A cousin of the now extinct Great Auk, the Razorbill comes here to reproduce in small colonies. The female lays a single egg directly on the bare rock, on a ledge or in a crevice. Well-adapted for movement under water, the Razorbill's short wings allow it to "swim" easily. However, to fly it must beat its wings at great speed.
Harbour seals and grey seals often bask on reefs just above the water or on large blocks of fallen limestone. Can you tell them apart?
Nicknamed "the horse-headed seal" for its profile, the male Grey Seal is massive and can reach some 290 kg. The smaller female weighs about 250 kg.
With its short muzzle, the Harbour Seal's round head looks much like that of dog. Smaller than the Grey Seal, the adult male weighs about 90 kg, while the female weights in around 70 kg.
Such a beautiful spot...but it's time to walk back up.
We managed to find a parking spot on the side of the road and got out to take a look at Blanchette House....
Visit the Blanchette family home, barn, fish shed, lumber shed and family-run dried fish facilities and take the time to chat with the costumed interpreters waiting for you. Many families in Grande-Grave were fishing while growing a small patch of mountainous land. Blanchette House, a true emblem of Forillon, reflects the traditional lifestyle of fishermen-farmers at the turn of the 20 th century.
Life in Grande-Grave revolved around cod fishing and curing. The beach, flakes, stages, warehouses, cookrooms, the general store, the smithy--all hummed with activity.
Here, you are at the heart of the William Hyman &Sons fishing company. The general store and warehouse appear as they did in the 19th century. They are faithful witness to this era.
Forillon was a preferred site because it offered companies:
-a pebble beach where cool north-west winds prevailed, ideal for drying cod
-a sheltered bay protected from strong winds,, whose deep waters were excellent for fishing
-a nearby forest in which timber could be cut for buildings, boats, drying racks and the like.
Merchants from the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guensey set up fishing establishments at Grande Greve and throughout the Gaspe. Their economic system dominated the fishing industry for 150 years, The system was based on:
-production of dried cod;
-sale of goods on credit;
-control of shipping and the Mediterranean cod market;
-management of fishing establishments by agents originally from Jersey and Guernsey.
The first people to inhabit the peninsula were Amerindians. Then, in the 17th and 18th centuries, Acadians, Jersey, Guernsey islanders, Britons, Irishmen and Americans arrived. After 1800, French Canadians emigrated to the Gaspe. Most of the people who settled here came in search of work. The fishing companies needed experienced men to catch and prepare cod.
Hyman and Sons General Store
This historic general store is full of treasures! It occupies the ground floor of the authentic residence that was built by William Hyman in 1864. Enter the shop and discover, in this warm atmosphere of the time, the typical operation of the fishing companies' shops and their vast inventory: preserves, medicines, dishes, tools, tackle, clothes, etc.
Fish were shipped around the world...
The Battle of the Atlantic was an intense six-year struggle throughout the Second World War to supply the defense of Britain and the Soviet Union and enable the liberation of Europe. It spanned the entire Atlantic Ocean and stabbed deep into the St. Lawrence, where 23 ships were sunk by German submarines within sight of Canada's shores. Without this costly victory, in which the service and sacrifice of Canadian sailors, airmen, merchant seamen and shipbuilders were essential, the war would have been lost.
And on that note, that concludes part 1 of our day (and your history lesson LOL),
Stay tuned for the rest of the day!