I didn’t know at the time but Quebec’s Highway 132 was about to become one of my all time favorite coastal drives. Starting in Dundee from the extreme southwest corner of the province, minutes from both the Ontario and American border, it stretches over 1,700 kilometers. Hugging the St. Lawrence River most of the way, this magical road trip adventure takes you deep into the mythical Gaspe Peninsula. Drive it on a stellar day week – because that’s how long you’ll need to truly explore this region – and you’ll be met with crystal blue skies serene blue waters, and mountains that will make you think you’re in the Rockies.
But there’s another reason to drive this coast. The history and culture, both deep, tangible and around every turn. The people, eager to share both with you, while the food speaks for itself with that spectacular Quebecois flare. But here, one character that has played an active role for centuries – and still does – is the sturdy lighthouse. As much as mariners once looked upon them as guiding lights, visitors today see them the same way, flock to them with a desire to learn more about them, their history, influence. Here, the lighthouse is embedded into the history, a literal pillar of the community, and visitors clamour to be included.
There are dozens of lighthouses that dot both of Quebec’s coasts surrounding the St. Lawrence.
All of them historic and culturally significant but for this piece, I focus on two that provide overnight accommodations. YES! In this part of Quebec, you can actually sleep and dine in a lighthouse. And it’s as epic as you imagine. Read on, learn more and be inspired to visit and experience these beauties for yourselves. Not to worry, a full map of the lighthouses I visited is provided below so that you can plan your journey.
Head to the port of Rivière-du-Loup, reserve a spot on a small speedboat and head to this island gem. Three small islands in total are all part of the Îles de l’Estuaire National Wildlife Area, supporting the preservation of tens of thousands of sea birds; rocky outcrops are ideal for taking in mesmerizing vistas.
The Brandy Pot Island Lighthouse was abandoned in 1964, more than 100 years after it was first commissioned. Restored by Duvetnor in 1989, it’s now a cozy inn that features three 19th century themed rooms for visitors who want to stay the night.
Besides incredible accommodations, staff – who live onsite – offer incredible amenities, even meals that are inspired from the raw, diverse and delicious regions surrounding the lighthouse. That said, the menu varies with the seasonal availability of the products. For more information about this lighthouse, and accommodations, please visit Société Duvetnor.
Iconic Lighthouses along Quebec’s Route 132
There are so many iconic lighthouses along Quebec’s magical Route 132.
Ile Verte Lighthouse
From the beginning, once discovered, the St. Lawrence was regarded as one of the most dangerous waterways on the planet. Sure, the reefs and sea were both unpredictable but add the total and absolute darkness and you had a yearning for a guiding light. Finally, in 1809, the very first lighthouse in Quebec, oldest on the St. Lawrence and third oldest in Canada, opened here on Ile Verte at the junction of the Sageunay and St. Lawrence rivers. By 1856, two cannon were added to help during low visibility conditions, booming every 30 minutes.
Today, Ile Verte attracts thousands of visitors annually thanks to its gorgeous, rugged coastline, fields of wildflowers, its stunning sunsets and its lighthouse, of course. Spend the day, stay the night.
The best way to explore this 14 kilometers long x 1.5 kilometers wide island is by foot or with a bicycle. After a long day exploring, you’ll be super thankful that the Maisons du Phare de l’Île Verte B&B is there to give you an amazing nights’ rest. Fall asleep with the sounds of wind, waves and even whales in the far distance.
Nine rooms in two buildings, each room has a name that reflects the history of the lighthouse and can accommodate everyone from families to couples. There aren’t any grocery stores on the island but if you come during peak season, enjoy a meal at one of several restaurants on the island or bring your own grub and cook it yourself; the B+B comes with a fully equipped kitchen.
The Quebec Lighthouse Trail features thousands of kilometres of history, culture, life and hospitality. The drive is scenic and beautiful, stopping to explore is common. Take your time to enjoy the days, and savour the nights in some of the most quaint B+B’s in Quebec’s Riviera!
This map features lighthouses explored in this article. For more info about others along the St. Lawrence, please visit Quebec Maritime.