Monday, November 05, 2007

Gaspésie, I Love You!

“Gaspésie, I Love You!” How truly that phrase expresses my sentiment. I had said it many times aloud before I realized it appeared on the cover of the resource I held on my lap as we drove into each town. We obtained the Official Tourist Guide 2007 – 2008 at the Tourist Information Center when we entered Québec. It lists the community name, population, history, descriptions of attractions and events, websites and phone numbers. A helpful young woman at the Center employed by the Québec Ministry of Tourism marked her recommended sights – the windmills, the rock, and more - in this free booklet and on the map we bought.

As she suggested, we visited Cap-Chat to see its windmills. Le Nordais Windmill Park has 133 windmills. This is the largest windmill park ever built in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The 2,814 residents of this municipality can boast that they have most powerful and the tallest (110 m) vertical axis windmill in the world. The interpretative center was closed so we missed the opportunity to tour the interior of this turbine.

We found “the rock” in Percé. This small town became popular for Canadian artists in the 1930s. Even today, many galleries make the visit pleasant. However notable the galleries, I marveled at the famous landmark no man or woman could create - the Rocher Percé. The Rock lies in the sea off the shore of Percé. Tidal erosion sculpted a giant arch through it. Whales are seasonally in the waters around the rock. And, during our brief visit, a local authority educated Ed on whales’ migratory patterns and nearly convinced us to join him on the whale watching boat tour that morning. Just as Ed resisted the enticement of the whale watching tour, I resisted spending our US dollars at the Canadian exchange rate on trinkets like ceramic whales, model light houses, and other souvenirs with the name Gaspésie painted on the base as a souvenir. Let me just say that Percé is very touristy and I only bought a few inexpensive postcards for the family.

My lack of knowledge about Canadian history and poor pronunciation of French names got a rise out of Ed. “This booklet says New Carlisle is the birthplace of some guy named René Lévesque,” I read to Ed. How was I to know that he was the founder of the Parti québécois and Premier of Quebec from 1976 to 1985? I was more interested in the humorous fire hydrants than knowing about this historic Canadian. Each of the town's fire hydrants was painted to look like some of my favorite cartoon characters – Fred Flintstone, Garfield, Sylvester the Cat, and Snoopy to name a few. I’d never seen a main street with so many fire hydrants let alone such a touch of humorous originality. You’ll have to visit the town or these web sites to see them, since we never did stop to photograph the hydrants or to find the Lévesque statue in the municipal park: or New Carlisle,

Had we stopped at every attraction in every town, we’d still be in Gaspésie. As it was, we were there from October 12 -17, 2007. Our tour of the Gaspé Peninsula followed Highway 132, which hugs the coastline in a round trip, until we cut across the peninsula on Highway 185. By traveling off-season, we never had to get up at dawn for the solitude of a walk on the beach, wait for crowds to clear to enjoy the view, sit in slow moving traffic, or stand in a line for an attraction. That's why I love Gaspésie.

The information contained in “Gaspésie, I Love You!” is also available online at

No comments: