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fox at ile aux loups
Grosse-Île is a pleasant drive along a long dune, north of Pointe-aux-Loups.

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The majority of photos used in this website were taken in June and July of 2007. We endeavour to replace and update photos as formations change, but cannot always do so. Note that the formations may have changed since these images were taken.

Grosse-Île: The Sleeping Giant

Although it is slightly more populated than tiny Point-aux-Loups to the south, Grosse-Île has a sense of being virtually empty, because its small number of inhabitants are spread across a much larger island.

Upon entering the island from the Pointe-aux-Loups side, the first impression is of an out-of-place industrial zone, something from a post-apocalyptic movie set. This is "Mines Seleine" which has been mining salt deposits for the past few decades. It generates millions of dollars in annual economic activity, and at peak operation provides jobs for about 200 people. The salt produced here is mostly used for winter road treatment in eastern Canadian provinces and in the New England states.

In any case, this imposing plant soon gives way to the charm of a small bridge and the bucolic Bay of Grosse-Île. A few homes are scattered along here, in general they are more conservative in appearance, eschewing the wild colors so predominant on Havre-aux-Maisons and Cap-aux-Meules. At the north end of the island, tucked beneath a large open hillside is a small but busy fishing port. Otherwise, a church, school, post office, and one or two understated businesses are found here.

Cliffs and Arches

There is no shortage of soaring cliffs and bluffs on Grosse-Île, but in general they are not as accessible as the other islands. Roads and pathways are few and far between, and it is unclear whether or not certain roadways are public. The highest point is accessible by a hiking trail, however it provides no view of the cliffs beneath it that plunge into the sea. In addition, most of Grosse-Île seems to be the agrillaceous rock, and much less prone to natural arch formation. Although it is a very safe bet that there are many arches to be found here, they do not reveal themselves easily. Use of a small zodiac or other boat is probably necessary to discover them.

Pointe de l'Est

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Sometimes it is hard to come to grips with life in the Maritime Provinces...residents are surrounded by incredible beauty, yet are required to go about the business of a career, maintaining a home, attending school, and all the other mundane tasks we deal with. The difference is, those of us who live in humdrum towns and suburbs don't have to deal with the distraction of sand dunes, cliffs, seas and other wonders that constantly beckon. I know I couldn't do it! An excellent book by Julie Watson called Calling the Maritimes Home: Origins, Attitudes, Quirks, and Curiosities sheds some nice insights on the subject; I heartily recommend it. It's a terrific portrait of life in the Maritimes, and although little is said of the Madelinots, the text is applicable and perfect reading to accompany your visit. A good book should be informative, but more importantly, it should provide some escape from the day-to-day. Watson's tome fits the bill nicely. The link goes to Amazon.com, where you can often find a used copy at a fraction of the price.

-- Rick