The village of Saint-Paul's River is situated about 60 kilometres west of Blanc-Sablon along the 138 Highway (Autoroute 138). This village is one of the oldest settlements on the Lower North Shore.
St. Paul’s River is located on a bay sheltered by a cluster of islands, near the mouth of a world-class salmon-fishing river by the same name. In the past the river was known as Eskimo River, after the Inuit who lived near its mouth.
In the early XVIIIth century, the king of France granted a fishing, hunting and trading concession to nobleman Amador Godefroy, Sieur de St-Paul, who hailed from Trois-Rivières.
The seigneurial rights changed hands several times between various arrivals from Britain and the Jersey Islands. Other early settlers in St. Paul’s River were of French Canadian, Inuit and Newfoundland origin. Many of today’s residents still work in the fishing industry.
Saint-Paul’s River is a renowned salmon fishing destination, and the snow crab has replaced the cod fish as the main product of the local fishing industry.
Historic houses and wharves are still standing at Salmon Bay, once a year-round community and now a popular summer spot for residents.
Here, you’ll learn about XVIth century girl Marguerite de la Roque, who was marooned on De la Demoiselle Island (also known as Caribou Island) according to local lore. The romantic tale of Lady Marguerite de la Roque and her ill fate is attributed to a few such places as Caribou Island. It is said that she was abandoned on Île de la Demoiselle, which became later the site of the first permanent church mission on the Coast.
You will be able to visit the Eskimo (Esquimaux) Island, site of a major battle in the XVIIth century. Indeed, artifacts and remains found on Esquimaux Island corroborate stories that it was once the site of a large encounter between the Inuit and the French allied Montagnais native groups. As was the case with many such encounters along the Coast, the locals suffered heavy casualties, were defeated and forced to retreat to more remote northern territory.
Offshore islands and coves you can visit the site of Whiteley’s extensive fishing operations on Bonne Espérance Island. This island called locally Boney, was the setting for the most revolutionary invention of its time, the Cod trap. The Whiteley family manor, one of the most beautiful dwellings in the area, was built here.
Near Saint-Paul's River, a lookout and picnic sites with an impressive panoramic view as been constructed along the 138 highway. From this unique vantage point, visitors can admire the entire community, as well as a view of the outer island archipelago to the south and follow the mighty Saint-Paul's River inland to the north as far as the eye can see.
You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of communities such as Old-Fort Bay to the west, and Bradore Bay and Lourdes de Blanc-Sablon several kilometres to the east.
Arriving in Saint-Paul's River, The Whiteley Museum presents artifacts from many of the former inhabitants of the area as well as relating the life of William Henry Whiteley III, the inventor of the Cod Trap. Several pictures and artifacts from the Bonne-Esperance era are on display along with a detailed scaled model of the settlement on "Boney". The museum and visitor centre is open from May to October daily.
In the centre on the community nestled atop a small hill is a monument which commemorates veterans who participated in both world wars.
A local tour operator offers tours to the islands.