La Fourche, 1872-1875
Library and Archives Canada
Travelling to the Gaspésie often meant doing it the old-fashioned way – on foot. A handful of travellers have left written accounts of their experiences, providing a record of the extraordinary hardships endured by travellers, particularly in the winter months.
When painter William Berczy walked on snowshoes from Paspédiac to Rimouski in February, 1802, he chewed on frozen soup as his food source. His trip had every kind of weather and a few accidents. The native guide fell through the ice on the Matapédia River, was pulled out and dried off, but still led the group on their journey until nightfall.
Most who visited the region employed native guides to navigate through the forest and find the portages around lakes and rivers. Travellers had to make their own accommodation. Berczy called his temporary homes “cabins”, but they were really just lean-tos in the woods, offering modest protection from the snow and the wind.