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Portrait of the park

History of Parc national de la Gaspésie

Parc national de la Gaspésie is the second oldest park in Québec. Created on April 14, 1937, four objectives were set: to forever protect the beauties of Mont Albert and Mont McGerrigle; to preserve the salmon in Rivière Sainte-Anne; to preserve the caribou in order to ensure their permanent presence; to promote tourism development in the Gaspésie. With World War II and the Quiet Revolution, five Orders in Council amended the statute ensuring the protection of this territory. Commercial exploitation of natural resources transformed parcels of land forever and irreversibly, coming into direct conflict with the initial conservation objectives.

In 1977, the Parks Act was created, launching the establishment of a parks network. In 1981, the park boundaries were redefined and its area decreased from 1,285 km2 to 802 km2.

The Park’s Natural Heritage

This sea of mountains chiseled by glaciers is adorned by block fields, high plateaus, ridges and deep valleys. Winds blow year round, sometimes violently. Snow, more abundant here than elsewhere in Québec, persists there until late in the summer. The plant and animal life are reminiscent of the Arctic

Two mountain ranges cover the park’s territory: the Chic-Chocs at the west and the McGerrigles at the east. The geological structure of the Chic-Chocs is volcanic and sedimentary in origin. The rocks forming these mountains, which are up to 600 million years old, originated mainly from underwater volcanic activity.

The geological history of the McGerrigle mountains, 380 million years old, is much different. From the depths of the sea, molten rock rose and seeped through weak points in the earth’s crust. This intrusion formed a huge “bubble” of magma. Over time, the soft surface material eroded, leaving bare and more resistant granite. These rocks are easy to spot on Mont Jacques-Cartier. They form one of the most impressive block fields in the world.

Year after year, the freeze/thaw cycle continues its incessant remodeling work. Freezing water causes small rises in the soil, which then collapse during the thaw. Many periglacial forms and phenomena punctuate the hiking trails: frost wedging, polygonal soils, rock streams, permafrost, rock glaciers.

The climate of the Gaspésian massif is conditioned by the altitude and its proximity to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The average annual temperature of the summit of Mont Jacques-Cartier is approximately -2.5°C. On the park’s peaks, low pressure and low temperatures due to altitude cause moisture condensation. In fact, the Chic-Chocs and McGerrigle mountains receive the highest annual rainfall in Québec. Prevailing winds are from the west, and the barren peaks give them no resistance. On Mont Albert, they blow an average of 24 km/h. Gusts near 250 km/h have been recorded at Petit mont Sainte-Anne. The wind here is a fact of life for the plants and animals, and for you too!

Parc national de la Gaspésie is at the head of several major watersheds, including those of Rivière Sainte-Anne and Lac Cascapédia, which is also the park’s largest lake. The aquatic fauna includes speckled trout, Arctic char and lake trout. Each year, Atlantic salmon also mount Rivière Sainte-Anne to spawn.

A hike from the foot of the mountains to the peaks reveals a succession of plant landscapes: the mountain stage, dominated by a balsam fir-white birch stand, the subalpine stage, where conifers share no space with hardwoods, and then the lower and higher alpine stages, where tundra is king. Parc national de la Gaspésie also protects several species of rare and at-risk plant communities, such as old balsam fir stands and serpentine sandwort.

There are major climatic and ecological differences between the park’s peaks and valleys. This is why species that usually live far away from each other in Québec are neighbours here: white-tailed deer and woodland caribou (in French only), White-throated Sparrow and Horned Lark, Arctic char and speckled trout, the Canadian tiger swallowtail butterfly and the whiteveined Arctic butterfly. Also, depending on the season, it’s sometimes easy to spot several common or rare species, such as the Harlequin Duck, Bicknell’s Thrush, the Golden Eagle or the moose.

The Cultural Heritage of the Park

The Micmacs have long known the natural routes. They ventured along Rivière Sainte-Anne, attracted by the abundance of salmon, but no trace of their passage has been found in the mountains.

In the mid-19th century, a wave of expeditions signaled the beginning of the era of discoveries, which is still continuing today. In 1844, geologist Sir William E. Logan explored Rivière Cap-Chat with guides, climbed Mont Logan and went to Baie-des-Chaleurs via Rivière Cascapédia. Mont Logan was named in his honour. On August 26, 1845, a daring geologist named Alexandre Murray climbed the mysterious Mont Albert. He then decided to name this imposing terrain in honour of Prince Albert, whose birthday it was that day. Many other renowned specialists have come to explore and study the treasures of Parc national de la Gaspésie.

  • From 1927 to 1967, fire wardens were posted on the summit of Mont Jacques-Cartier to watch over the Gaspésie forest
  • During World War II, the Canadian army occupied the summit of Mont Jacques-Cartier, and built an access road and some buildings.
  • In 1950, Gîte du Mont-Albert welcomed its first customers
  • 1986, the Visitors Centre opened. It was built on foundations laid in 1938, originally intended for the hotel.

Did you know?

The Park in Numbers

Year established: 1937
Area: 802 km2
Perimeter: 287 km
Annual attendance: 221,000 visit-days

Lists of Species

(in French only)

Amphibians and reptiles

Species at risk



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