A lady at the copperware store – where I bought a copper plaque of the BC Coat of Arms – asked me what the taxes in BC were. I told her 5% GST and 7% PST. She said, “We have 9.5% PST. Quebec is a poor province,” and she grinned. She may be right in some respects. A lot of their roads have been patched many times and could do with a complete do-over, but there are some VERY nice houses here; big estate properties. There are also many small houses (even smaller than our 1100 sq ft. house). But, what we rarely see is a rundown property or yard. Almost every house is cared for with a nice yard – not necessarily lots of flower gardens, but neat and tidy.
We left Quebec City at 11 am and drove to Rimouski, our first of five days on the Gaspè Peninsula. The sky was overcast all day so everything in the distance was grey. But – the good news – there are actually some almost-mountains here, rocky ones and everything. I felt so much better.
And….we crossed the Salmon River. Must have been a good day!Our hotel at Rimouski was across the street from a very nice pedestrian boardwalk. After dinner we took a walk and some photos. An hour after these photos the tide had come in and everything was underwater. It is a very strange notion to have a tidal river, but the St. Lawrence has tides that vary 13-15 feet due to fresh water going out and meeting ocean water tides coming in.
Monday, July 21 we were up early – 7 am, if you can believe it – and were on the road by 9. We had several things we wanted to see between Rimouski and Ste-Anne-Des-Monts and a couple of them could each use up a few hours.
We didn’t have to drive very far from Rimouski to Pointe-au-Perè Lighthouse.
There were two other things of interest there besides the lighthouse; one was a museum and video about the CPR Steamship passenger liner Empress of Ireland that sunk 10 miles further up the St. Lawrence River from Rimouski on May 29, 1914.
Rimouski was the pilot stop for all ships going in and out of the St. Lawrence to Montreal. The Empress of Ireland had just dropped off the pilot at Rimouski and was heading out to the Atlantic for Liverpool when a sudden fog came in. The Captain saw another ship coming their way and, due to bad decisions on the part of both ships the coal ship Stordohl, coming toward Rimouski to get their pilot, rammed the Empress dead center on her side. She sunk in 14 minutes, killing 1012 passengers and crew. 465 were saved by the Stordohl crew. 2014 is the 100 anniversary of the disaster.The second interesting thing at Pointe-au-Pere is the Onondaga, a Canadian submarine that served from 1967 to 2000 before being decommissioned. We were able to walk through the thing from stern to bow with audio-guides describing all the things along the way. Too, too cool! 70 men would live in the tiny tube for 2-3 months at a time. Talk about crowded conditions. The helm We made a brief stop at Sainte-Flavie to see the cement sculptures of artist Marcel Gagnon. There are over 80 of these life-sized figures ‘rising out of the sea’ – as the St. Lawrence River is called in these parts because it is so wide here you cannot see the other shore. As a matter of fact the ferry that sails from Matane (1/2 way between Rimouski and Ste-Anne-des-Monts)and Baie Comeau in Eastern Quebec takes 2 1/2 hours to cross the river.
Another 20 or so kilometers up Highway 132 is the village of Grand-Métis (this Gaspé coast is just a village, and a village, and another village). Located here is the Reford Gardens, considered to be among the nicest gardens in North America. It was very nice but, since I have been prejudiced by the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, it didn’t blow me away. The garden was showcasing designs in an International Festival of Gardens. Again, having been seriously prejudiced by the garden designs at the Chelsea Flower Show in England, most of these were very poor imitations of ‘garden’ designs. Some of them were kind of neat though.
Our final, short stop was at Cap-Chat 12 miles west of Ste-Anne-des-Monts. We drove about 500 meters off the highway to see the Aeolian Windmill. It is the tallest and most powerful vertical-axis windmill in the world – 110 m (360′) and created 4 megawatts of electricity. It is now retired but you can climb to the top – 22 stories by ladder. Takes an hour. Unfortunately we didn’t feel we could take the time. The view would have been incredible on such a nice sunny day.
I leave you with some of the wonderfully colored cabins/homes we have seen on our drive.