Saint-Eugène-de-l’Islet, some 100 kilometres east of Quebec City, is scattered across the marine terrace a few kilometers to the south, across from highway 20, and is ranked one of the most beasutiful villages in Quebec. The Islet-sur-Mer area has older heritage buildings along the main road, (rue principale) close along the Saint-Lawrence River. Two dominant buildings include the 1770 Church of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours and the Maritime Museum of Quebec (Musée maritime du Québec). In the village centre, the rue du Quai (a street name found in every town along the Saint Lawrence) leads to a small natural cove that is protected by the quay and which serves to shelter the small boats. You can see the hills on the far shore.
In 1633, Father Lajeune sailed past a boulder located on the river’s edge which formed “a tiny islet”, known by the Natives as “Atisaouacanichetagoukhi”. In 1677, the families of Couillard and Belanger were granted two seigneuries, which supported 15 families by 1721. Unfortunately, all those properties were burned by the English during the conquest of 1759, as were most homes on the coast at the time. The community was first known as Bonsecours but the simpler French name stuck.
In addition to its bed and breakfasts, the Islet area offers three typically charming inns, each with different character. In the heart of the village, La Marguerite is housed in a 1754 manor; in the eastern part of the village on the river’s edge, La Paysanne, features gastronomic cuisine; and lastly, housed in the old flour mill of 1841, the Auberge des Glacis in Saint-Eugène specializes in fine cuisine.
Church of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours
15 Rue des Pionniers Est (Rte 132) L’Islet, QC G0R 2B0
The church houses two belfry towers following a recollect plan with a single nave that accomodates side chapels. Construction of the church began in 1770, and the decoration of the choir was completed by Jean Belanger and his son François in 1787, with various enhancements added over the next 100 years. The tabernacle dates back to 1730 and beautiful 19th century art works by Antoine Plamondon adorn the church.
Salle des habitants (settler’s hall)
16 Chemin des Pionniers E, L’Islet, QC G0R 2B0
Built on the river’s edge in 1827, then moved to the village centre in 1956, near the church. This historically registered building is a superb structure re-covered in wood, with a four-sided roof covered in aluminum sheeting-a typically Canadian feature.
Maritime Museum of Quebec, (le Musée maritime du Québec)
55, chemin des Pionniers Est (route 132).
Located close to the church, honors the maritime past of the village, which was home to most of the river’s captains and sailors, including early arctic explorer Captain J-E. Bernier, who was the first to stake a Canadian claim to the region in 1909. The stone structure has three sections: exhibition rooms dedicated to maritime history and heritage; a boat workshop (chalouperie) showing how the traditional flat-bottom boats (chaloupes) were constructed; and dry-dock displays such as icebreakers, hydrofoils, and schooners. Open: mid-May to mid-June and Mid Sept-Mid Oct daily from 9 am to 5 pm; mid-June to early Sept daily 9 am to 6 pm; Balance of year: 10 am to noon, 1 pm to 4 pm. Admission.