Gaspesie sketchesPosted: August 11, 2021
Doing a tour of the Gaspé peninsula has been on my wish list for a long time, and this summer, with travel restrictions being eased in Quebec, there was a window of opportunity for a weeklong road trip, and we seized it. We covered 2200 km in 8 days, but the spectacular scenery was worth the time spent in the car. Of course my sketchbook came along for the ride.
My first sketch was in the early morning in Métis-sur-Mer. I was also hoping to sketch at the famous Jardins de Métis, but it was too crowded on the paths of the historic gardens. I will have to go back when it’s not a free Sunday!
Our second stop was in St. Maxime du Mont-Louis in the Haut Gaspésie, where the landscapes are quite dramatic. At the end of the day, I found a picnic table near the water and sketched the hills in both directions.
When I faced west (above) the hill was backlit but the clouds were luminous. Then I turned to face east (below) and the village was lit by the evening sun.
We spent a day hiking in Forillon National Park at the northeast tip of the peninsula. Of course we had to make our way to Cap Gaspé so we could stand on the overlook at Land’s End where the International Appalachian Trail ends. I did a vertical sketch (below) of the dramatic cliffs and beach from the lookout platform. It was really gusty up there, and crowded too, so I finished some of the pen lines in the shelter of the hotel room, later in the day.
In Forillon Park, we also spent some time on the rocky beach of Cap Bon-Ami, watching the diving seabirds. Not visible in my sketch and off to the left is some sort of unidentifiable decaying sea creature. That probably explains why most people were on the right side of the beach.
I’ve already posted a sketch of the iconic Roche Percé. In tourist brochures it’s always shown on its own, but another striking view is to see it in relation to the surrounding landscape. I chose to sketch it a second time, facing Villa Frederick-James, the old white mansion with the red roof perched atop Cap-Canon.
At the risk of sounding like a tourist brochure for the region, one thing you must do if you go there is to visit Bonaventure Island. It’s only a short boat ride to get to this amazing bird sanctuary, but the captain takes the long way around so you can see the fat grey seals sunning themselves on the rocks, and the thousands of birds on the far side of the island. The site is famous for being the summer breeding grounds of over 110,000 Northern Gannets who live on the high cliffs. You can get a good view from the boat, but an even better view if you hike there from the quai, because you can see them up close. I really wanted to sketch a wide vista these birds, but once you get there you realize that’s quite challenging to do for all the reasons you can imagine. I just managed to do a quick sketch of a few of the adult birds and one fledgling.
Waiting for the boat to get back to the town of Percé from the island, I had a chance to do one more quick sketch of, you guessed it, Percé Rock in the distance.
I also had to draw the giant plaster lobster in front of our hotel, and a quick sketch of a guy on the pier having a long conversation with his friend in a truck.
Carleton-sur-Mer on the Baie des Chaleurs was where we ended our tour before heading home. The resort town is known for its beaches but for me the boats were the highlight. We were lucky to have great weather during our whole week, but that last day was especially nice and I spent a long time at the far end of town where the marina is.
I even found my favourite kind of boat — an old rusty one — and sketched it while the sun set.
My little farewell sketch was done at dawn from the back stairs of our motel, facing a little white farmhouse in back of us.
The week was a great introduction to a place that I will certainly visit again. If you’re wondering what sketchbook I used, it was my Etchr Perfect Sketchbook, A5 size. Smaller than the A4 I usually carry, but just the right size to fit in my knapsack for hiking.