Sunday, November 13, 2011

Muse'e de la Gaspesie Centre d'archives

A Curious Place in the Wilderness

This summer I had the opportunity to do some research in a part of the world that is not commonly known to most Americans--the Gaspe Peninsula. Though it is quite far away, roughly a good day's drive northeast from Quebec City, it is a place that is rich with French Canadian, Native-First Peoples, and other cultures. Very few people, whom I encountered, spoke English, and I met no Americans. But the place of Gaspe in history is rich in many ways, including being the location of Marconi's first maritime transmitting station (at Pointe-a-la-Renommee).

The people were very friendly, and the cuisine was a fine blend of wilderness, seafood, and continental fare, all with a suitable touch of French cooking magic. The museums and the Centre d'archives were quite interesting and held many unique materials pertaining to the area. There was even a great book store selling cookbooks with cuisine gaspesienne. The land, the sea, the mountains, the fields--all of the natural space of Gaspe is a wonderful experience. I don't recall when I first came across this land on some maps, but I know that a few years ago, I discovered an old book at some shop or thrift store entitled "Away To Gaspe," by Gordon Brinley and illustrated by his partner, Putnam Brinley.

Traveling north to the great Peninsula in the depths of the Great Depression, the Brinleys went from the White Mountains up into Quebec, and stopped at some of the places that I eventually saw. In their book, they write about such places as St. Edouard-des-Mechins, Cap Chat, Petite Madeleine, Perce, and Bonaventure Island. Perce is one of the most intriguing and amazing places in North America, far away from any large city, even though there is a growing crowd during the summer. And Forillon Park, which is a few hours drive north of Perce, is one of the most incredible geological sights (and sites) I've ever seen--something like a Yosemite in the sea! Its perilous cliffs shoot up hundreds of feet, almost bending backward like an arching cupcake, but far more beautiful and stunning when seen from across the north bay at sundown or sunrise.

If anyone is adventurous and interested in exploring the far north, this is surely a place to visit. And I think you will be most surprised and delighted to find both a bounty of natural beauty and a rich culture in a state of wilderness.

1 comment:

  1. Cool! Good one, Anthony. Cannot wait to get to a level of proficiency in French so that I can enjoy the culture of my home province. Apparently, the region has one of the most beautiful French accents in French-speaking Canada.