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Journey through Québec's Patrimonial Legacy
Distance: 1,000 km (621 mi.). Plan on a six- to seven-day trip.
Regions: Montréal, Lanaudière, Mauricie, Québec City, Chaudière-Appalaches, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie
Make a date with history on this journey through time as you follow in the footsteps of Jacques Cartier and his discovery of Québec. From Montréal to the Gaspé Peninsula, each leg of this historical road trip will introduce you to museums full of treasures and historical sites with amazing stories to tell. At every stage of your journey, we suggest you visit a major historical attraction where you’ll make incredible discoveries!
1. Your trip back in time begins in Old Montréal, specifically at Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History. This unique museum, located in the heart of Old Montréal, is the only one in North America to be built on authentic archaeological remains, offering visitors an underground archaeological circuit. At the beginning of the tour, the multimedia show projected onto a 270-degree screen and the remains themselves, recounts six centuries of history in Montréal.
2. About 90 minutes east of Montréal is Trois-Rivières, Québec’s second-oldest city. Even today, it has a European feel to it, as you’ll see when you explore the streets of the old town. You can also learn about its rich industrial past by visiting the Forges-du-Saint-Maurice National Historic Site. This site, which commemorates the founding of Canada’s first industrial community, features many archaeological artefacts from the birth and development of our country’s first iron foundry.
3. A must on this historical circuit is a visit to Québec City! More than 400 years of history await those who are fascinated by our heritage. The birthplace of French civilization in North America, Québec City has many stories to tell. Among its numerous historical attractions, we suggest you visit the Plains of Abraham, site of the 1759-1760 battles between French and English troops.
4. From Québec City, head to Isle-aux-Grues and cross over to the Grosse-Île and Irish Memorial National Historic Site. Located in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, Grosse-Île, also known as “Quarantine Island,” served as a quarantine station for the Port of Québec City from 1832 to 1937. In 1847, the site bore witness to the tragedy of Irish immigrants fleeing the Great Famine.
5. A little farther east, near Rimouski, you’ll be able to do some naval gazing. When you visit the maritime historic site at Pointe-au-Père, you’ll discover the Pointe-au-Père lighthouse, built in 1909, which played a key role in the history of navigation on the St. Lawrence. There is also the Empress of Ireland pavilion, which tells the story of this ocean liner, from its construction in 1906 to its sinking, with the loss of 1,012 lives, in 1914. We also suggest you visit the Onondaga submarine, unique in Canada! When you board the ship, an audio guide will immerse you in the daily lives of the 60 or so men who lived on board, confined to this 90-metre-long vessel.
6. Dispatched by Francis I, King of France, Jacques Cartier landed in Gaspé in 1534 and claimed the territory that had been inhabited for millennia by Amerindians and Inuit. To see where it all began, visit the Musée de la Gaspésie and the monument to Jacques Cartier in Gaspé. The Museum is also an ideal place to learn about the history of the Gaspé peninsula.