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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Road Trip Along Quebec’s North Shore: Sept-Iles to Natashquan

Chutes de Manitou
Photo by Thomas Tompkins
It may have been raining most of the day before, but the sun was shining from Sept-Iles to Natashquan. About midmorning we pulled into a highway rest stop at Chutes de Manitou. There was a small fee for admission to the hiking trail to the falls, which we figured was worth it to keep the trail maintained. While we didn’t go all the way to trail’s end, we did go down to the bottom of the falls. It’s quite scenic, and was a good chance to stretch our legs. Not recommended if you can’t handle stairs however.

At lunchtime we reached Havre-Saint-Pierre, which we’d been told was the last place you could get gas on Highway 138 (not true, as it happens). You can catch a boat cruise from there out to the Mingan Archipelago, where you’ll see flowerpot rock formations, and, if you’re lucky, puffins. We decided to save that for another time as we didn’t have three hours to spare. We did have lunch sitting at a picnic shelter at the end of the harbour, watching a seal bobbing around as we ate. There’s a large tourist information centre there, which even has a cafeteria. It also has a large wall map of the north shore.

Baie-Johan-Beetz
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Farther down the road, we came across the town of Baie-Johan-Beetz, and pulled off to take a look. It’s very picturesque. There’s a pedestrian bridge across to a small islet, which gives you good views of the St. Lawrence and of the town. It was shortly after that that we drove through an area where all the larger trees had been burnt. It went on for about 22 kilometres, and was due to a forest fire the previous summer. They’d had to evacuate the town, but fortunately the fire never reached it.

Next stop was the town of Aguanish, which had a lovely, but very deserted beach. It was quite windy, which seemed to be the case everywhere we stopped along our trip. That’s probably why we never had any trouble with black flies or mosquitoes. Finally, it was on to Natashquan.

All roads lead to...Natashquan
Photo by Kate Tompkins
We picked up the keys for the cabin where we were going to stay, took the obligatory picture of the sign, and stared with amazement at the gas pump (admittedly just regular and diesel, but still!) and large grocery store on the main street of town. Not at all the middle of nowhere we’d been led to expect! 


Next: Natashquan

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