Percé, Quebec Canada

Discovering Percé, Quebec: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Percé, a small city located near the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Canada, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This city, which also includes a village community of the same name, is a member of the association of Most Beautiful Villages of Quebec. Percé is a popular tourist destination, renowned for its attractions such as Percé Rock and Bonaventure Island. In 2018, Percé Geopark was accredited by UNESCO Global Geoparks.

The city's territory also encompasses the communities of Barachois, Belle-Anse, Bougainville, Bridgeville, Cap-d'Espoir, Cannes-de-Roches, Coin-du-Banc, L'Anse-à-Beaufils, Pointe-Saint-Pierre, Rameau, Saint-Georges-de-Malbaie, and Val-d'Espoir. Percé is also the seat of the judicial district of Gaspé.

The Rich History of Percé, Quebec

The area of Percé was traditionally the homeland of the Mi'kmaq people, who referred to the place as Sigsôg ("steep rocks" or "crags") and Pelseg ("fishing place"). In 1603, Samuel de Champlain visited the area and named the famous rock Isle Percée ("Pierced Island"). During the 17th century, the place served primarily as a stop-over for ships traveling to Quebec.

The area was used as a seasonal fishing center during the New France era. Permanent settlement began in the early 19th century with the arrival of Irish, French Canadian, and Jersey natives. In 1801, the Parish of Saint-Michel-de-Percé was founded. Percé became the most important fishing location on the Gaspé Peninsula after Charles Robin, a native of Jersey, began his fishing establishment. The old buildings of the Charles Robin Company can still be seen today.

In 1842, the geographic township of Percé was formed, and three years later, it was incorporated as a township municipality. In 1942, the Royal Canadian Navy expanded Direction Finding and wireless intercept at Cap D'Espoir to a 24-hour basis to provide more bearings on German U-boats and to intercept enemy radio traffic. The Department of Transport placed its facilities at the disposal of the RCN. On May 21, 1945, the Canadian Naval Service approved the closing down and disposal of Harbour Grace and Cap D'Espoir intercept stations.

In 1971, Percé was greatly expanded and gained ville (town) status when it amalgamated with five surrounding municipalities: Municipality of Barachois (1953), Municipality of Bridgeville (1933), Municipality of Cap-d'Espoir (1935), Municipality of Saint-Pierre-de-la-Malbaie N°1 (1876), and Municipality of Saint-Pierre-de-la-Malbaie N°2 (1876).

Demographics of Percé, Quebec

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Percé had a population of 3,095 living in 1,550 of its 1,862 total private dwellings, a change of -0.3% from its 2016 population of 3,103. With a land area of 432.81 km2 (167.11 sq mi), it had a population density of 7.2/km2 (18.5/sq mi) in 2021.

Tourism in Percé, Quebec

Percé Rock, a natural rock formation located close to the shore facing the town, is a major tourist attraction. Its size, color, and unusual door-like hole at one end of the rock draw visitors from around the world. It can be seen from any of the belvederes in the area including Mont Joli, Mont Sainte-Anne, and Pic de l'Aurore. Tourists can walk up to the hole in the rock at low tide.

Bonaventure Island, facing the town of Percé, occupies an area of 4.16 square km. It is home to one of the most important gannet colonies in the world. Many other species of birds such as puffins, cormorants, and murres also use the island as a home and breeding ground. Whale watching is also a popular attraction in the local area.

Further inland from Percé lies Mount Blanc, which has a deep crevasse, as well as many other belvederes that overlook Cannes-de-Roches. Mount Sainte-Anne, with a height of 375 meters, provides views of the sea and, during times of good visibility, Miscou Island in New Brunswick can be seen.

Les Percéides, an annual film festival in Percé, screens a weeklong series of films at various venues in the town, climaxing in an outdoor gala screening on the public beach.

Transportation in Percé, Quebec

Percé can be accessed via Route 132, coming either from the north or the south. It is also reachable by air from the nearby Du Rocher-Percé Airport via private or charter aircraft - there is no scheduled air service to this airport. There was a rail link to Montreal, but that service was suspended in 2013, and there has been no indication of a resumption.

Behind the St. Michael’s Church of Percé, walking trails lead up past lookouts to the summit of Mont Saint-Anne of 348 meters (1,142 ft), the Grotto of Mother Mary with a waterfall and Crevasse. Another high hill, Mont-Blanc, has views of the region.

In the coastal waters, visitors can observe various species of marine mammals, such as seals and whales. The region is home to thousands of marine birds, which crowd the rocks of the Parc national de l’Ile-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé facing the town, just 3.2 kilometers off the coast of Percé.