Havre-Aubert is a large island of the Madeleine Islands archipelago, with quite a few business and tourist activities, yet it is surprisingly quiet and mostly rural.
It is also known as Amherst Island in its English version. It is located at the eastern end of the archipelago. The island is composed of three distinct hamlets, Havre-Aubert and Bassin and L'Ile-d'Entree or Entry Island. The Havre Aubert Island is part of the major islands of the archipelago. With its 58 km2 territory, it makes the largest (but not the most populated) of all the islands.
There are about 2,500 inhabitants on the island, of which most are French-speaking. Amherst Island's first settlers were Acadians who arrived here in 1762 coming from Acadia, Prince Edward Island and the Chaleur Bay. The first municipality of Havre-Aubert, was constituted in 1875. It changed its name to Bassin in 1959. Havre-Aubert-Est was constituted in 1951. This community changed its name to Havre-Aubert in 1964. Havre-Aubert-Est and Havre-Aubert amalgamated in 1971. They took the name of L'Ile-du-Havre-Aubert.
Today, the village is a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Quebec. In 2000, a new municipality also named L'Ile-du-Havre-Aubert was constituted following the amalgamation of L'Ile-du-Havre-Aubert and the village of L'Ile-d'Entree. Ile d'Entree is the only inhabited island part of the Magdalene Islands unconnected to the rest of the archipelago by land.
The island is located five kilometres east of Havre-Aubert Island. It is one of the three English-speaking centres of the archipelago. First inhabitants came here in the early 19th century, they were Scots from Grosse-Ile and Nova Scotia. Different versions exist about the origins of the name of Havre-Aubert.
Some suggest Thomas Aubert, a sailor and explorer from Dieppe, France. Some people bring up the name of Francois Aubert de La Chesnaye, who would have supported the colonization efforts of New France.
Some have mentioned a family of sailors named Aubert. One hypothesis includes Jean-François Roberval, on of the first explorers of Canada, who would have stayed on the island in 1542, to name it Havre au Ber (berceau) (cradle in English, while havre is French for harbour). The first post office, opened in 1899, bore the name of Amherst Island until 1907. Entry Island owes its name to the fact that it is located at the southeast entrance of the Magdalene Islands archipelago.
A ferry service exists between Entry Island and the village of Cap-aux-Meules. The scenic hills Les Demoiseles, meaning "young ladies" in French, dominate the eastern half of Havre-Aubert. These hills are really beautiful to look at, and they provide spectacular views if a people drive or hike up to the viewpoint.
Some drivers will find the route steep and narrow. Indeed, the route is different from what most of us are used to driving and it doesn't look like a road. Nevertheless, the route can be handled by any common car.
At some points it looks almost as if you are driving across somebody's yard. At some times of the year the insects at the summit become a nuisance, thus have bug spray ready.
The island conceals a forest – the only one of interest in the archipelago – as well as a historic site.