We just returned from a few days in Les Iles de la Madeleine. It was much shorter than expected, but that’s another story you can find here:
But at least we got our full of lobster! The weather was reasonable, considering we are revisiting at the end of approximately a four-month season.
Les Iles de la Madeleine is extremely popular amongst French Canadians. It is much less known elsewhere. The islands are between three Canadian provinces, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. However, it “belongs” to Quebec.
The islands have a rich history of fishing and lobster trapping
This became a significant industry in World War I and World War II. In Britain, they liked to smoke herrings, which had a much longer shelf life, but during the war, the facilities were needed to support the war effort. As a result, the islands began their facilities for smoking herrings until that point exported.
Unfortunately, the industry eventually vanished due to foreign countries’ massive depletion of herring stock as a decrease in the need for smoke. By 1978, there were only 14 smokehouses left on the islands. To this day, there’s only one re-opened and smokes various items worldwide.
The tour we took was fascinating. And we also got to sample a smoked scallop, salmon and mackerel. I was surprised at how good the mackerel was. We were told that herrings in the 20s would practically jump into the boat. The golf was so full of pairings around the islands of the sperm from the breeding herrings that would make the sea water white.
With the market’s collapse, demand In the 50s, a box of smoked herring that would be the size of 3′ 2′ x 1′ would sell for two dollars, but today, two fillets of herring cost three dollars.
Fishing remains the most crucial industry in Madeleine other than tourists. Now, they trap lobsters and crabs as well as different sea life. Of course, it’s a very regulated business. Those who live on the islands don’t appear to be that affluent, but those with a fishing license are millionaires.
For visitors, the delights of the seafood and lobster are only one factor
The landscape, along with the lighthouses, sandy beaches and red rocks, is a beautiful place to visit. This is an ideal place to go if you’re into sea sports such as windsurfing. The waters are incredibly rough, so swimming is not always recommended, even though the beaches are beautiful. This is the place for you.
And did I mention cheese?
Le Pied-De-Vent is a raw cow milk cheese produced by La Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent. Pied-de-Vent is made with milk from Canadienne cattle.
The island has a thriving artisan and artist market with some beautiful pieces to purchase. Depending on the time of year, birdwatching and wildlife such as sea lions and seals make this a traveller’s paradise. Sadly, the walruses are long gone from this area. Parts of Les Iles de la Madeleine reminded us of our New Zealand and Scotland trips.
There are two ways to get to the islands. When does it take a ferry from Prince Edward Island, about five hours these days? And the other is to fly him, usually from Montreal or Quebec City. The weather can be unpredictable; hence, planes may not land or take off if it’s foggy.
While the islands are tiny, they are an archipelago spread out over an extremely long stretch, so taking a car on the ferry or renting one is a good idea. Many people visit bicycles around, but with the winds, I wouldn’t recommend it for a regular journey. I don’t believe there are any public buses.
As a result, the islands suffer from massive erosion, and climate change has worsened. Les Iles de la Madeleine is investing millions in building the dunes connecting the various islands.