FRIDAY 08 July
Our plan for today was to take a boat ride around “Parc national ‘ile-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher” (National Park Bonaventure Island and Rock) just off the coast of Perce, Quebec. Linda’s research last night indicated that there were two boat companies doing these rides and providing service to/from Bonaventure Island. She was going to make a reservation for the four of us, but they could only be made for parties of 20 or more, and appeared to be unnecessary anyway. The cost would be 45$ per person for a 75 minutes narrated tour around the Rock and Island with the option of getting off the boat onto the island to hike and visit historic buildings. Otherwise, the ride back to Perce was an additional 15 minutes. The “Rock” and the island, together, make up the “Parc national ‘ile-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher,” a Quebec provincial park, so exiting the boat onto the island would mean paying the 9.50$ per person provincial park entrance fee.
The rock is an iconic, often seen symbol of the province, and the island is a significant bird sanctuary. With over 250 species recorded (migratory or nesting), the highlight of the island is the birds that nest in the cliff faces. In particular, the island is a major nesting place for the Northern Gannett with over 50,000 pairs recorded this season. But there are also Cormorants, Kittiwakes, and many other species. It is one of those “wonders of the natural world” that we thought would be well worth the 90$ to see. And it was.
Paul and Nancy decided not to hike on the island and returned to the mainland for an early lunch while we went ashore. We could have paid our entrance fee in cash, but a QR code marked “English” took us to the Sepaq website (Parcs Quebec) when Linda made a “reservation,” paid the fee, and got a confirmation code. There was a gift shop, café, and restrooms in the dock area.
There was a system of trails on the island, three of which went over the top of the island and through the woods to the other side where the nesting cliffs are located. These trails had enough elevation gain that they were all marked “intermediate.” A fourth trail ran parallel to the coast facing Perce and was lined with the homes and other buildings of the community that once existed here. Most of the buildings were well preserved and maintained. Some were open for hikers, and others are opened only for escorted tours. The island became a bird sanctuary in 1919 by international treaty, and the last human inhabitants were removed in the early 1970’s.
There was a plant that we thought was giant Queen Anne’s Lace, but Google Lens identified it as “Cow Parsnip.” (We had an excellent cellular signal on the island.)
Our boat left the mainland dock at 9 AM and arrived at the Bonaventure Island dock around 10 AM. The available return boats after that were at 11:30 AM, 1 PM, 2:30 PM, and 4 PM with the final return passage at 5 PM. We decided to hike the coast trail for the views and photo opportunities, with the goal of taking the 1 PM boat back to Perce.
Along the way, we discovered informative signs about the history of the island and its inhabitants. We also saw quite a few Grey Seals. Their Latin classification is “Halichoerus grypus” which translates as “hook-nosed sea pig.” They are a “true (earless) seal.” Locally they are apparently referred to as “horse seals” as the shape of their heads resemble that of a horse. They are not small animals, growing to a length of 10 feet, weighing up to 4,400 pounds, and eating 22 pounds of food (fish, squid and eels) per day. They are curious creatures, and were often positioned vertically with the heads out of the water so they could look around and watch the passing boats and hikers.
Since we could see the entire length of the island from our campsite, we figured we could see our campsite from the island. I was fairly sure I had found it, but this photo confirmed it. Our travel trailer is in the little yellow oval in the upper left corner.
We were back in the dock area by 12:15 PM, got something to drink and split a piece of raspberry bread while waiting for the 1 PM boat. We visited the gift shop (boutique) looking for post cards, but they did not have any. There was a larger boutique back in Perce, and Linda found several post cards there for our youngest grand-daughters.
Paul and Nancy had lunched at “La Maison du Pecheur” near the dock and were relaxing in some large wooden lounge chairs on the boardwalk, waiting for us to come back. They had already walked the town, and we were not interested in window shopping, so we headed back to camp. Since they had dined out, and everyone was a bit tired, we agreed to each take care of our own dinner this evening and retreated to our respective homes on wheels.
Rain was forecast to begin around 2 PM so I put the stinger in the F-150 receiver, stowed the two foldup lawn chairs in the truck bed, and positioned the truck with the stinger ready to back into the trailer hitch in the morning. Linda took a load of laundry over to their rig. We then settled in to get some work done. Linda entered receipts in Quicken and reconciled bank balances while I worked on blog posts. Dinner was a simple affair, after which Linda read and I continued to work on blog posts. I was going to start reviewing e-mails and cleaning up my e-mail inboxes, but it’s a long and somewhat tedious task and I was too tired to start.
Rain was still in the forecast through 11 PM, and finally started at 9:15 PM with a flash lightning and thunder. But we should have dry conditions for our final departure preparations in the morning. We plan to pull out around 10 AM. Check-in time at our next stop is 2 PM, and the drive is only about three hours, but we will be crossing into New Brunswick, which is currently on Atlantic Daylight Time where it is an hour later than here in Perce.