More About the Magdalen Islands

Some of the Magdalen Islands are inhabited: Ile de la Grande Entree, Grosse Ile, Ile aux Loups, Ile du Havre aux Maisons, Ile du Cap aux Meules, and Ile du Havre Aubert, Entry Island, located 13 km (8 mi) east of Havre Aubert.

A rather large Ile Brion is an uninhabited island lying 19 km (12 mi) north of Grosse Ile, but there are other smaller islands and islets, such as Rocher aux Oiseaux, Ile aux Loups-marins, Ile Paquet, Rocher du Corps Mort.

The major employer of the islands is the salt mine in Grosse-Ile. The most important economic activity here, however, is fishery: the islanders catch crab, groundfish, lobster, mussels, scallops, and other seafood.  Tourism industry comes second in the islands’ economy. Located on the migration route for many species of birds, the Magdalen Archipelago is a very interesting spot for birdwatchers.

The best time for observation is May and June, and September and October.

The Magdalen Archipelago has a mild maritime climate: the Gulf Stream and the surrounding shallows help keep the water warm. In August and September, the water in the lagoons and bays reaches temperatures up to 18 and 21ºC (64.4 and 69.8ºF), so swimming is a pleasant here as late as at the end of September.

Winters are mild and summers are fresh. In fact, the archipelago has the least amount of annual frost in Quebec, though the winds here are rather strong, with speed between 15 and 49 km/hour (8-22 knots). In summer the prevailing winds are from the southwest.

In winter the wind comes from the northwest. To get to the Magdalene Islands, tourists can take a five-hour ferry trip from Souris, a village located on the north shore of the Prince Edward Island.

Visitors can also take a two-day cruise on a ship from Montreal with a stop in Chandler, the Gaspe Peninsula. Besides, the islands’ airport on Havre-aux-Maisons Island is linked to Montreal, Quebec, and Gaspe by daily flights (prices vary greatly depending on the departure point).

As to the attractions, the visitors can enjoy the following festivals and celebrations:

  • the Acadian Festival of Havre-Aubert, the Small Boat-building contest taking place during the Acadian Festival, where everybody can come and show his or hers boat-building skills; 
  • the Sandcastle Contest on Habre-Aubert Beach, where visitors are invited to come and build their best sandcastle; 
  • Country Fair of the Cap-aux-Meules Island, offering tourists a good opportunity to discover fresh agricultural produce from the islands; 
  • the annual International Magic Story Telling Festival, where artists from different countries share their words with thousands of listeners.

These magnificent events offer you a unique chance to discover the traditions within a necklace of sand islands in the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence.

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