Recently, I have an increasing fascination with lighthouses. Why lighthouses, you may ask, what got me into lighthouses? Well, I don’t really have a witty response or a mind-blowing, life-changing answer about it, sorry. This recent interest hasn’t helped to shape me as a person, but it has taught me something about myself; how easily fixated I can become on something. The good thing was, I managed to get something good about this newly-found fixation; it helped us to build our itinerary for our Gaspesie road trip.
The best and easiest way for going to Gaspésie is by taking the highway 132 or route 132, this road follows the coast of the Gaspé peninsula, wrapping around the rugged coastline and rocky mountains with massive cliffs where the lighthouses normally standing. We had so much fun exploring the stunning coastal scenery, checking out cute lighthouses, and snapping some epic photos.
Just imagine cruising along the winding coastal roads, feeling the salty sea breeze in your hair, and hearing the sound of crashing waves in the distance. From times to times, you'd see lighthouse towering from a cliff, keeping the ocean safe for ships and boats since the 1800. Occasionally, we also get to learn about the cool history of the lighthouses and the brave folks who took care of them.
I don't mean to brag, ahem, but we ticked off all the (easily visited) lighthouse around the Gaspé peninsula, and here is the roundup:
1. Petit Phare - Small Lighthouse of St Andre de Kamouraska
Okay, this might not be a real light house, but look how cute it is! Definitely worth a stop! Inside this lighthouse replica is a mini sunroom with glass window overlooking the St. Lawrence river.
2. Phare Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse National Historic Site
The Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse was built in 1909 and is the second tallest lighthouse in Canada. The light house is one of the three landmarks in this national historic site to commemorate the worst nautical disasters in Canadian history; the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence river, killing 1012 of 1477 of people on board in 1914. We can also visit Onondaga, the first submarine open to public in Canada, in case you're curious about the life inside of a submarine, and of course, the museum fo Empress of Ireland that exhibits artefacts from the wreck.
3. Phare Matane lighthouse
Matane lighthouse has become one of my favorite stop whenever we're in the area, simply because there's KFC right across the street.. LOL.. Mind you, KFC is a gem for Quebec, seriously. There's only ONE, yep ONE SINGLE KFC outlet in entire Quebec City. This fast food chain is disappearing from the province in an alarming rate! As someone who grew up eating KFC (and includes it in her home-food list) finding a KFC outlet is gratifying. Don't worry tho, Matane has more to offer than just KFC for food lovers, the city is famous for its fresh seafood and local products, so you've got plenty of choice!
5. Cap de la Madeleine lighthouse
Cap de la Madeleine lighthouse is a well-known landmark with it's typical Canadian lighthouse look: white cylindrical tower and bright red roof. Cap de la Madeleine lighthouse was first built in 1871, made to ensure the safety of mariners, day and night. Nowadays, we can visit the lighthouse and learn about its history by visiting the museum located in the old building housing of the foghorn system that was once used by the lighthouse keepers. The park next to the lighthouse makes a good coffee break stop or picnic spot, the panorama is amazing, on a good day, you can even watch the whale from up here.
6. La Martre lighthouse
La Martre lighthouse is definitely one of the kind that still keeps its unique wooden structure and painted all bright red from head to toe. This lighthouse is not as tall as other lighthouses we saw along the way and rather than having a cylindirical tower, its unusual octagonal wooden frame makes it looks exceptionally cute. The rotating light system on top of this lighthouse was installed in 1906 and is still serving its duty to keep the mariners safe day in and day out since 1906. Imagine toé donc!
Point à la Rénommée lighthouse is one of the most historical lighthouse in Canada for several reasons. One of the main reason is this lighthouse was once the first wireless marine telegraphy station in North America. It is also known as the Marconi station, the first lighthouse that were transmitting wireless signals to save lives at sea in early 1900. Badass!
Although it's situated a bit off the road, it was absolutely worth to visit. They kept the transmitting room as it was back then, you can visit it with a guided tour that will explain the technical aspects as well as the history of the lighthouse. Apart from its history, the view from this site is amazing. It has trails with breathtaking views, and rumor has it, you could even watch seals and whales from here.
7. Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse
What so unique about this lighthouse is, it is the tallest lighthouse in Canada, standing about 34 meter tall on a rocky cliff. It's so high, the best place to admire it's iconic look is from the bay across. For a small fee, you can access the lighthouse and climb the tower and have a peek of the first-rate Fresnel lens. This lighthouse has been an eternal inspirations for local artists, many paintings, statues, carvings are sold in the area depicting this iconic lighthouse.
8. Cap Gaspé lighthouse
This relatively small lighthouse (about 13 metres tall only) can only be accessed through the Les Graves trail in Forrilon National Park. Despite its traveler size (if the traveler called the Hulk, that is), this lighthouse is still operational. The lighthouse standing atop Forillon peninsula or also known as the tip of the Gaspé.
9. Phare du Cap Blanc lighthouse
Phare du Cap Blanc or Phare Percé is one of the inaccessible lighthouse simply because it is surrounded by private lands. You can only admire it from afar. It's pretty small too. Nico only managed to capture this photo by using his mega lens.
10. Phare Cap-d'Espoir lighthouse
Cap d'Espoir lighthouse was once noted as Cape Despair by the Canadian anglophone Department of Marine due to its phonetic sounding of the French name, YET it actually completely the opposite of its translation, "Cape of Hope"... LOL... talking about lost in translation, hein?!
11. Bonaventure Lighthouse
The Bonaventure lighthouse is located at the Baie de Chaleur near the Plage Beaubassin campground. This wooden small lighthouse was built in the 1900 and become as an integral part of the picturesque maritime character of the coastal setting. I specifically proud of this pic because I took it with my phone at the right moment with the rainbow perfectly arched around the lighthouse. Sometimes those accidental moments make the best memories.
12. Carleton Lighthouse
The Carleton-sur-Mer lighthouse is located at the Tracadigache Point, and although the current lighthouse is merely a decorative replica, it represents very well of how the lighthouse was in 1911. It's become a well-known spot to watch sunset, and from times to times, local artists come and build art installations nearby.
The Metis lighthouse we're seeing now is actually the second lighthouse that was built in early 1900 when the maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence was increased dramatically due to trade growth, immigration, and whatnot. Nowadays, the lighthouse has entered its retirement phase as navigation aid and is adopted by the Métis-Sur-Mer municipality. The site itself is accessible for public during opening hours, however, none of the building nor the tower are open for public, they are mainly kept for special activities such as to facilitate maritime research about the St. Lawrence river.
So, there you go, my first curative post!! Now I remember why I don't this kind of post as often; it requires a lot of details and research! Argh! It makes my brain shrivel from too much thinking and concentrating.