July 11-13, 2017, Travel 220.8 miles
Camping Annie Campground
Mertis-sur-Mer, Gaspe, Quebec
Our drive around the Gaspe Coast was along Highway 132, was on a very curvy road, some areas we had some pretty steep upgrades and downgrades, 8 – 17%. Driving along the picturesque river and mountainous landscapes, valleys, bays and coastline and thru many small coastal towns, we noticed how much of a difference there is between this part of Quebec and the US. You do not find housing tracts, large hotels, or shopping malls.
The largest building we found in any town were the very elaborate and ornate churches, the steeples were painted silver with most being built of granite.
There are little coastal villages, with an abundance of flowers, green fields and forests and the sometimes rocky sharp cliffs along the river. The coastal houses are spread quite far apart, they are much smaller, most built with granite with very small windows, the roofs various colors of metal, some of the houses were painted in bright vibrant colors as well. Every house has rows and rows of cut fire wood for those cold winter months. The village homes are intermixed with the large farms, and along the highway, some so close we could reach out our window and touch them.
The St. Lawrence River flows roughly in the north-easterly direction, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic ocean. It moves along Quebec and Ontario, and New York. The waters flow smoothly through the river valleys which makes the area a great place for farming. Along the St Lawrence River you will find salt-marshes, flat bottom valleys, and lots of hills with gentle slopes, plateaus where the trees are small and far apart. The soil is very rich with 70% of the land being used for growing crops and orchards. The Gaspe area also manufactures, steel, Iron ore, lime stone and coal.
The travel group of 3 has now grown to a group of 5, Greg, from Fl, single and traveling with his 2 dogs has joined us, and Lou and Karen, from New Braunfels, Tx with their dog Lady. We left St. Nicholas and are heading to Metis-Sur-Mer, Steve and Sharon leading when about 20 miles from the campground, Steve is slowing down and pullilng over.
This can’t be good…he radios us…the steering is not working…he thinks flat tire….he and Guy check it out…nope not a flat…something in the steering…ended up calling a tow truck…Freightliner was right in town so they did not have to tow far…they took it apart…found out what the problem was and started looking for parts but were told they no longer made them. Long story short, used parts were being sent from Tennessee and would take about 3 days, new parts to be made would take 42 days…not good. As of this day 7/22, there are still no parts and Steve and Sharon have been following our group in their car and staying in hotels.
The Reford Gardens and International Garden Festival was being held not far from our campground, so our group headed there for the day. It was a beautiful garden park that had been transformed from fields and forests into this wonderful garden over 90 years ago by Elsie Redford. The International Festival is a year long display of structures that artists from around the world have designed specifically for the garden. The designs float, tilt and hang, they slide and move around.
Elsie Redford the creator of the gardens divided her time between Montreal in the winter and Estevan Lodge in the summer months. The lodge was built in 1887 by the founder of the Canadian Pacific Railway and was a single story building. Elsie extended the building in 1926 for family, servants and guests.
After our walking tour of the gardens, Guy and I went to tour the Canadian Navy submarine, Onondaga. The sub was in service for over 30 years, it was built by the British for Canada. It was 90 meters long, and had 70 men working on it, it could travel 17 knots submerged and 12 knots on the surface. The sub could hold 16 torpedos, its maximum depth was 210 m.
The Pointe-au-Pere lighthouse which is the tallest lighthouse in Canada, 333 meters, was built in 1909, there are 110 steps, was at the same location as the submarine.
There was also a museum across the street that tells the story of the shipwreck of the Empress of Ireland. The ship lays on her port side tilted at about a 50 degree angle, she has been under water for 100 years. The hull appears to be holding up but her mast, two upper decks have collapsed. The Empress collided with the Storstad on the morning of May 29, 1914. The Empress was on her 192nd crossing from Liverpool to Quebec. The Empress of Ireland’s sinking was one of the worst maritime disasters in history. Of the 1,477 people on board 1,012 perished, only 465 survived.
After our tour of the lighthouse and submarine we drove along the coast and thru some of the coastal towns. We found a group of stone statues along a boardwalk and down into the ocean. We really could not find out why as everything was in french. Someones idea of art, I guess. I did hear that when the tide comes in the statues are under water with only a few heads protruding above water.
It was a full day and our breakfast was long gone, so we were now scouting around for some sea food…we found one right on the water, but once we got close we found it closed!! Which was probably a good thing as the one we found was wonderful..both Guy and I had ceasar salads with 1lb of lobster on them. Yummy!! This place was filled with all kinds of fish related chotskies…
Our time in Mer was a short stop, and now we were moving on to Cap-Aux-Os, Quebec. So stay with us on our Grand Adventure as we move around the Gaspe peninsula.
Until next time y’all have a Blessed Day.