La Gaspésie

Story by Ron Keys// Photos by Ron Keys
March 1 2012

Reaching our destination town of Causapscal in the interior of the Gaspé Peninsula, we easily locate our accommodation for the night and zigzag up the steep driveway to La Coulée Douce B&B, and later dine with a panoramic view of the confluence of the Matapédia and Causapscal rivers below.

An overnight rain has left an early morning mist hanging against the green mountain flora as we get back on 132 on our way to Campbellton, New Brunswick, to meet up with our friends Bill and Janice and Barry and Wendy.

Quebec Route 132 follows the Matapédia Valley along the river of the same name as it migrates to the sea. Carved into the sides of the mountain, this picturesque road is a pleasure to ride, with its excellent pavement and sweeping bends as it crosses back and forth over the river. Far below, fisherman cast their tempting morsels from anchored canoes to salmon lurking in the watery shadows. Surrounded by the deep green of the forest-covered mountains, I crane to experience the raw beauty of this renowned region. Constantly distracted by activities on the river, I spot a bald eagle standing in the gravelly shallows, patiently waiting for his next meal, and a fisherman who has pitched his tent midstream on a gravel shoal, oblivious to how quickly water levels can change in the mountains.The town of La Gaspésie on the shores of Quebec

At our destination in downtown Campbellton, New Brunswick, we hunt for the huge steel Atlantic salmon that my metal-sculptor friend, Bill Lishman, created for the town. We find his magnificent creation in a park, replete with fountains spraying water over it, a fitting monument to this area’s greatest tourist draw.

After meeting up with our friends, we cross the Restigouche River, which separates Quebec from New Brunswick, to visit the National Historic Site of the Battle of Restigouche. In July 1760, on the Bay of Chaleur, a seven-hour battle between the English and French navies sealed the destiny of North America forever. Numerous artefacts from the scuttled French ship Michault, entombed in the river’s mud, have been salvaged and are on display in the museum.

Rock island over 400m long

A few miles east of Restigouche, we take a detour from Route 132 to Miguasha National Park. Renowned for its fossil-rich cliffs and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Miguasha has some of the world’s best-preserved fossils in its natural history museum. After taking the tour and a lunch of local wild salmon, we wind our way through Quebec farm country back to 132.

Our destination for today is New Richmond, but not before we stop at Carleton-sur-Mer, a beautiful coastal village on a natural harbour. Weaving back and forth to avoid all the bone-jarring frost heaves, we ride upward, terracing to the summit of Mont-St-Joseph, which looms high above Carleton and overlooks the surrounding countryside. At the top, we enjoy an unimpeded view from the wooden cantilevered overlook – that is, until I spot the crumpled remains of the previous overlook structure far below. A brisk move back to terra firma alleviates my angst. With our brakes smoking, we make our descent and follow the coastline to New Richmond.

The sun streaming through a crack in the curtains of the Hôtel Le Francis alerts us to .


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