Paspébiac historic fishing village living museum
As a nosy body, I’m always curious to learn about how people lived back then, that’s why I like to visit museums and ruins. But as a relatively young(ish) person, I’m picky about museums to visit. My favourite kind of museums are those living museums. This kind of museum is no ordinary museum, my friends. Here, history comes alive through interactive encounters, moving reenactments. Lucky for me, Canada has tons of this kind of museum and one of them is the Paspébiac fishing village museum in Gaspésie. This hidden gem is nestled right by the breathtaking Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Visiting the Paspébiac living muséum to me was like stepping on a time machine that transported me back in time and embarked on a journey to the 1800s, right in the heart of the charming and vibrant village that was once the bustling cod fishing industry. As we entered this enchanting village through the cobblestone way, we were greeted by guides dressed in period costumes, ready to whisk us away on a historical adventure, my dog included.
Now, imagine witnessing the skillful art of shipbuilding, as craftsmen showcase their expertise in assembling majestic vessels that once sailed the open sea in search of the prized cod, or step into the world of the blacksmith, where the ring of hammers on anvils and the heat of the forge will transport you to a time when this trade was essential. And witness the transformation of metal into useful tools, watching in awe as skilled blacksmiths fashion items necessary for the fishing industry.
Seriously, you'll be amazed as they transform raw materials into magnificent masterpieces right before your eyes using techniques and equipment of back then. Unless you’re my dog, who managed to sleep through the entire session, -sigh-, probably reminiscing about his own best moments in life, which reduced to mealtime moments, I’m sure.
All the eleven buildings are well-preserved, equipped with visual or audio displays, or both. The sights, sounds, and even an occasional salty sea breeze made me feel truly immersed in Paspebiac's vibrant past. If only they also rent costumes, I’d definitely rent one and roam around as an underage barefooted labourer from the era. You know, to get more the “feel” of it.
But the adventure doesn't stop there. As we continued our exploration of Paspebiac, we stumbled upon the art of barrel-making, and fish-packing, the crucial part and process in the fishing industry at the huge warehouse LaBoutilier. This warehouse is the icon of of the site. It was once one of the largest fishing buildings ever built in North America with five-storeys high wooden structure.
To make the visit wholesome, the site also has its restaurant where we can discover traditional local cuisine such as Brill Fricassée à la Paspéya, and fresh fish and seafood dishes. Ingredients of course sourced from local fishermen. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to taste the Brill Fricassée, but we had a super good lobster rolls and they stuffed it with so much lobster meat you prolly could dislocate your jaw trying to have a good bite of the roll. LOL.. okay that’s an exaggeration on my part, but they do put a lot in it. What’s not an exaggeration was their menu price because they have the best price for lobster rolls compared to other restaurants we went to on our Gaspesie trip!
So, whether you're a history buff, a lover of maritime heritage, or simply seeking a joyful and immersive experience, the Paspebiac historic fishing village is definitely a destination to visit, especially when you’re doing the Tour of the Gaspésie.
Website: Paspébiac National Historic Site
Fee: 15$ adult (special rates for kids, elderly, family, group)
Open hour: June to October