Nowadays, a stone cross stands on the waterfront commemorating Cartier's arrival here, part of a historic reconstruction by the water, where the wharves used to be. On Sunday, local people were dancing to recorded music on the promenade here, all in step with one another; they had obviously done this before! Further to the right is the site of the old naval base, also interesting. Many ships were moored here during the two World Wars, and German submarines penetrated the area during the Battle of the St. Lawrence, 1942-44.
Across the road from this site is a Jacques Cartier shopping mall, a supermarket and a colourful cluster of buildings on the Rue de la Reine, in Gaspé, named thus after a visit from the Queen in 1959. The Rue Jacques Cartier, parallel to this a little further up the hill, is less touristy, festooned with electric cables.
The hotel (motel) where we stayed was up a steep hill from the Rue de la Reine. Its main building, built in 1842, used to be a family home belonging to the Carter family. Alfred Theodore Carter, who added the little towers, lived here all his life, becoming the American Vice-consul, Captain of the local militia, JP, President of the first Chamber of Commerce, mayor of Gaspé, etc. It was his daughter and son-in-law who had turned the place into a lodging for tourists. From the row of Muskoka chairs in position outside the Motel Plante, you can look down on the Café des Artistes with its orange siding, near the bridge. At one time, this building had been a general store, and had even served as Gaspé's town hall for a while.
Across the bridge is the marina where ocean-going yachts, some with two masts and serious looking equipment, were moored. Coaches from the former VIA-Rail train stood on a track that no longer runs to and from Gaspé. When we last visited this place, VIA still had a station in operation there, but apparently the tracks got damaged and are no longer considered repairable. In its place is a newly (2012) constructed Information Centre, with a birch-bark Micmac shelter on display inside, fox and beaver furs hanging in it, a Micmac drum tambourine decorating the doorway. The Micmacs are the local first nation. A cruise ship lay at anchor in the bay on Sunday morning and small boat loads of cruise ship passengers came ashore one by one, disembarking near the Info Centre, so that they could walk around on the mainland and visit the museum up the hill. They were all away again by early afternoon.
|Mary Bolduc with her band, in 1928|