Editor’s note: This Eye Candy post was created as part of an arms length collaboration with our partners in tourism at www.sepaq.com Eye Candy stories are the latest addition to our Canadian travel blog. We aim to make them bite-sized and super shareable — a visual dose of Canadiana grounded in a few words to sweeten your day.
— By Kim Gray
Few places in Canada own winter like Québec. At least, after five years of Toque & Canoe-inspired travel around this far flung land, this is our observation.
If other regions tolerate, mildly enjoy or even embrace our country’s coldest season, we think it’s fair to say that Québec’s relationship with snow stands apart—not so much as an embrace, but rather as a full body, mitten-clad tackle.
Which brings us to the winter-rich boreal forest and alpine tundra of Québec’s Gaspésie National Park—home to the bedazzling Chic Choc Mountains (600 million years old), unique caribou and moose populations and more than 190 kilometres of marked trails (and 17 warming huts) designed for winter sports enthusiasts of all kinds.
One of those enthusiasts is renowned Québecois comedian Emmanuel Bilodeau who recently told us that he and his Montréal-based family, often staying at the popular Gîte du Mont-Albert during their visits, travel to the park at least once a year for a solid dose of nature.
“In the West, you have the Rockies. Out here in Québec, we have this. It’s very wild and very savage so, like the sea, you need to respect it,” says Bilodeau. “When you snowshoe or ski to the top of these mountains, there is so much beauty in your face, it almost makes you feel drunk.”
Pascale Caissy, who runs Gaspésie National Park’s visitor centre, says the region—also home to Mont Jacques-Cartier (the highest peak in southern Québec at 1,250 metres of elevation)—services guests whose interests include every winter sport imaginable, from snow surfing to alpine touring.
An outdoor enthusiast herself, Caissy says that what she enjoys most about the park are the extremes to be had—from the adrenaline-charged excitement of flying down steep, powder-filled slopes on skis to “absolute tranquility, where you only hear the sound of the wind and your snowshoes crunching in the snow.”