The Mighty St. Lawrence

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Day 1: Québec City, QC

One of the oldest European settlements in North America, Québec takes its name from the Algonquin word meaning ‘where the river narrows.’ The city that Champlain founded in 1608 was the capital of New France, and later, of British North America. Today, the proud capital of the province of the same name boasts the old-world charms of Vieux Québec, the world-famous Chateau Frontenac hotel, and the only remaining intact citadel walls in North America. Cultural riches, superb cuisine and an incredible view over the river make Québec the perfect place to begin our voyage!


Day 2: Saguenay Fjord, QC

The Saguenay drains fresh water from Lac St. Jean, but the greater part of its volume is salt tidal water from the Saint Lawrence Estuary. The result is an ideal habitat for marine mammals including four species of whales—fin, minke, blue, and the famous (and endangered) Saguenay beluga population. Saguenay-Saint Lawrence Marine Park and Saguenay Fjord National Park both protect the region’s vast natural riches.


Day 3: Lower Saint Lawrence

Today we will be exploring the south coast of the Lower Saint Lawrence. Our stop is weather-dependent; ideally we will have favourable conditions for an excursion to the famed Reford Gardens. The gardens are home to a sculpture park, art installations, and an array of unique floral walks and enclosures.


Day 4: Forillon National Park / Gaspé

The Gaspé Peninsula, also known as Gaspésie, separates the mouth of the Saint Lawrence from Baie de Chaleur. Dominated by high cliffs on the north shore, the Gaspé includes the eastern tip of the Appalachian Mountain chain and offers amazing views from its highland regions, which jut out above the treeline.

The first National Park in Québec, Forillon, is an important bird and marine mammal habitat. Forillon also preserves human history in the Grand-Grave National Heritage Site, telling the story of the fishing families who once made their homes here. The park contains Canada’s tallest lighthouse, and fortifications remaining from the Second World War, when German U-boats threatened Allied shipping.


Day 5: Île Bonaventure National Park / Percé

Parc National de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé is the formal name of the park at the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. But most Canadians are more familiar with its best-known feature, the awe-inspiring Percé Rock.

The area’s flora and fauna are world-renowned, including famous colonies of northern gannets: the largest is on Bonaventure Island and comprises nearly 50,000 pairs.

Named by Samuel de Champlain, Percé itself is an internationally famed marvel, a huge natural arch within a mass of reddish limestone and sandstone. A second arch collapsed in 1845, leaving a massive column at one end. Fin, minke, humpback, and blue whales ply the nearby waters of this magnificent coastal outpost.


Day 6: Prince Edward Island

Canada’s smallest province in both size and population, Prince Edward Island is known by several other names, including “Garden of the Gulf” (for its lush agricultural lands) and the “Cradle of Confederation” (referring to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864). It is a realm of rolling hills, wooded glades, ocean coves, and famously red soil. The island’s landscape has a strong bearing on its inhabitants, and Prince Edward Island—often abbreviated as pei—retains a slow-paced, old-world flavour in its small, rural settlements. The island was made famous by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (and its sequels)—and to this day the Cavendish farmhouse described in the book is a popular destination for visitors.


Day 7: Cape Breton Island, NS

Today we call in at picturesque Cape Breton Island, an island comprising rocky shores, rolling farmland, glacial valleys, barren headlands, mountains, woods and plateaus. A day of memorable hiking and cultural experiences awaits us here.


Day 8: Magdalen Islands, QC

Long frequented by Mi’kmaq people, likely walrus hunters, the Magdalen Islands (les Îles-de-la-Madeleine) in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence were first sighted by Europeans when Jacques Cartier sailed among them in 1534. Today, although closer to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, they form a regional municipality of the province of Québec.

However, the islands have a history distinct from that of mainland Québec. When the British expelled the Acadians from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Magdalene Islanders remained, and to this day take great pride in their Acadian heritage. There are also long-standing English settlements, and a percentage of the population can claim descent from survivors of the many shipwrecks that have occurred among the islands. Iconic red sandstone cliffs are among the islands’ most striking features.


Day 9: Expedition Stop, NL

Newfoundland’s South Coast offers many surprises, including vast stretches of virtually uninhabited wilderness. Fjords, cliffs, and islands offer excellent Zodiac cruising territory and terrific birding opportunities. We will be availing ourselves of all the area has to offer and may be stopping in any of several possible destinations depending on conditions.


Day 10: Saint-Pierre, FR

On a trip that traces the history and geography of New France, it’s appropriate that we wind up in France. Saint-Pierre remains an official territory of the French Republic, albeit only a few dozen kilometres off the shore of Newfoundland.

You will have an opportunity to explore the town before transferring to our charter flight to St. John's, NL.

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