Regional Portraits

Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine (11)


Geography and administration

The Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region is located in the far east of Québec on the south shore of the Fleuve Saint-Laurent. It is composed of the Gaspé Peninsula, bordered in the west by the Bas-Saint-Laurent region and in the south by Baie des Chaleur and the Îles-de-la-Madeleine island archipelago, which includes a dozen islands in Golfe du Saint-Laurent.

The region is made up of 44 municipalities, mostly grouped into 5 regional county municipalities (French acronym MRC):

Municipalities that are not part of an MRC include, most notably, Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Grosse-Île. The region also has 10 other types of territories, including two Indian reserves: Listuguj and Gesgapegiag.

Gaspé could be described as the main town of Gaspésie, and Cap-aux-Meules stands out among the most populated villages of Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

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Agriculture, fisheries and food

Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine is the most important maritime region in Québec. Commercial fishing activities focusing on lobster, northern shrimp and snow crab have dominated the regional economy since the collapse of groundfish stocks in the 1990s. These species now constitute the new resource wealth of this maritime territory.

Dairy, sugar maple, beef, sheltered crop, and potato production are the main agricultural activities in the region in terms of revenue. Vegetable and fruit farming also make up a growing part of the region’s agricultural profile.

The bio-food industry plays an important role in Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine. High quality locally caught and processed seafood is available for all to sample and enjoy. Sugar maple operations, chocolate factories, honey farms, and microbreweries process other products to be discovered by visiting gourmets.

Lastly, the “Gaspésie Gourmande” banner and the “Le Bon Goût frais des Îles de la Madeleine” logo serve to promote local products both within and outside the region.

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Economy and employment

The region's economy is based primarily on the bio-food industry, the tourism industry and the wind energy industry.

The bio-food industry generates a great many jobs in the region, particularly in the area of seafood product processing. The diversification of the economy in the marine biotechnology sector is essential to maintaining the region’s vitality.

Tourism is another key industry for the region. Many tourism businesses hire a significant number of people, particularly in the food service sector. The region’s unique tourist attractions draw thousands of visitors each year and generate significant economic benefits.

In Gaspésie, the wind energy industry is a niche of excellence. Components are manufactured there for the development of wind farms, and the region is developing an expertise in northern conditions as well. Several companies are active in this area, generating numerous jobs, and the workforce benefits from specialized training.

In Gaspésie, the forest industry has always played an important economic role. Coniferous forests cover 80 percent of the territory.

In Îles-de-la-Madeleine, exploitation of the salt mine, the only one in Québec, has been spurring employment since the 1980s.

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Tourism, recreation and culture

Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine is an internationally renowned year-round tourist destination. The administrative region has two tourist regions: Gaspésie, where landscapes are extremely varied and stand out for their red cliffs, omnipresent forests, mountains, and rivers; and Îles-de-la-Madeleine, where the panorama is characterized by dunes and red cliffs, beaches as far as the eyes can see, and brightly coloured houses.

The beautiful scenery and nature’s bounty have led to the creation of a number of national parks. Recreational activities can be enjoyed in the region's parks and many wildlife reserves.

Among the tourist attractions of the region are the Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée (music festival) and the Havre-Aubert Acadian Festival.

The tourism industry has also developed as a result of international cruises and marine mammal viewing cruises.

International windsurfing and kite surfing competitions take full advantage of Îles-de-la-Madeleine’s ideal climatic conditions. In addition, the world’s most important sandcastle competition is held on one of the region’s most beautiful beaches.

Percé Rock and the gannet colony of Île Bonaventure, in the village of Percé, are the most important tourist attractions in eastern Québec.

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