St Paul’s River is the largest community in the municipality of Bonne-Esperance, Quebec’s North Shore, at the mouth of the St. Paul River, 550 kilometres long. About 450 inhabitants live here.
Remains and artefacts found on Esquimaux Island corroborate stories that it was once the site of commercial encounters between the Inuit and the French allied Montagnais native groups. Saint-Paul's River derives its name from Amador Godefroy, sieur de Saint-Paul.
Mr. Godefroy de Saint-Paul was the first French nobleman who obtained the right to fishing, hunting and fur trading in the area. Following the British conquest of New France, the concession was passed onto Phillip and Nathaniel Lloyd in 1774. John Goddard, one of the wealthiest men on the North Shore, acquired the land in 1825. After that, families from the British colony of Newfoundland came to settle here. Originally, colonists lived on the outer islands such as Bonne-Esperance (known as Boney Island), Caribou (Demoiselle Island) and Esquimaux Islands.
Today Saint-Paul's River is a renowned salmon fishing destination. Also, the snow crab has replaced the cod fish as the main product of the local fishing industry. Saint-Paul's River is situated about 60 kilometres west of Blanc-Sablon along the 138 Highway, where a ferry crosses from Saint-Barbe's, Newfoundland on a daily basis running from May to January. The romantic tale of Marguerite de la Rocque, niece of Roberval de la Rocque, French explorer, and her ill fate is attributed to Caribou Island.
It is said that she was abandoned on this island because of her relations with one of her uncle’s sailors. Also, Caribou Island is the site of the first permanent church mission on the Coast. Near Saint-Paul's River, a lookout and picnic sites with an impressive panoramic view as been constructed along the 138 Highway.
The Whiteley Museum, located here, presents artefacts from many of the former inhabitants of the area. It presents also the life of William Henry Whiteley III, the inventor of the Cod Trap. In the centre of St. Paul River, on the community nestled atop a small hill, a monument commemorates veterans who participated in wars.
Throughout the year, guests can come here for hiking and walking, bird and whale watching, iceberg viewing, sea kayaking, berry-picking, salmon fishing, wilderness camping, ATV, ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and more. Note than Miss Brodie’s Hill Trail, located at the back of the community, can be scaled via a short but steep trail. The hill was named after the first schoolteacher in St. Paul’s River.
Miss Brodie lived in a house on the side of the hill. The view of the bay and surrounding islands is nothing short of beautiful!
Visitors can stay at Waterfront B&B (phone 418 379-2128), Riverside Inn (phone 418 379- 2132), Keats' Guest House (phone 418 379-2182).
You can eat at C & W Café & Take-Out (phone 418 379-2373) or at Vida's Bakery (phone 418 379-2361).
Tony Roberts (phone 418 379-2024) is a local tour operator who offers tours to the islands.
Note than all St. Paul’s River resident speak English.