National Park Forillon, Quebec, Canada
Established: 1970 Acreage: 59,392
Forillon National Park occupies much of the eastern part of Cap Gaspe known as the Forillon Peninsula. The word 'Gaspe' is probably an Indian word meaning land's end. It refers to the prominent, rocky cape—the first land seen on approaching the Gulf of St Lawrence from the southeast. Long before the creation of the park, the Gaspe region was a popular tourist destination. In the 1920s the Perron Boulevard (now Highway 132) afforded a magnificent drive. For most of the route, the road skirts the St Lawrence River and the gulf, passes picturesque fishing villages, climbs steep grades and descends to coves with sandy beaches. East, the almost vertical limestone cliffs of Forillon Peninsula rise from the sea. A complete tour of the Gaspe Peninsula, a trip of about 550 miles (885 kilometers), is one the most spectacular drives in eastern Canada.
Little was known of the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Gaspe region before Jacques Cartier's first voyage to North America in 1534, although archeological investigations have revealed human habitation centuries before Cartier arrived. It is likely that groups of hunters migrated from the south and west to the Gaspe territory 10,000 years ago and lived by hunting caribou, catching fish and gathering wild fruit.
Early Europeans had hoped to trade in furs as well as fish, but the abundance of cod, redfish and herring led to its dominance in the area's economy. Petit-Gaspe, one of the oldest of the former fishing communities on the bay, has long been a tourist attraction. The original settlers came from the British Channel Islands, and St Peter's Anglican Church is one of its showpieces. At Grande-Greve, an original Gaspe settlement has been recreated that includes restored houses, commercial buildings and other village structures. These allow visitors to examine the self-sufficient lifestyle of the farmer-fishermen, the cod fishing business, the monopoly of the trading company in the area, and the physical environment and social organizations of the settlement. Visitors to the park can also enjoy boat excursions, hiking, picnicking and, in winter, skiing.
Far left: From the vantage point of Cape Bon Ami in Forillon National Park, one has a view of both the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Bay of Gaspe.
Wildlife in the park includes the red squirrel (below left) and the red fox (below).
Forillon, Quebec. Forillon National Park on the map.