Metis is synonymous with tourism in the region. For decades, its reputation as a seashore resort drew visitors from far and wide.
Metis was on the tourism map long before automobiles and good roads made the region popular and the advent of what is known today as ‘mass tourism’. Indeed the cachet of Metis contributed much to the promotion of the destination. But because the road stopped at Metis, travellers who got there rarely went further. Until the road was extended in 1929, it was a summer resort that welcomed thousands of visitors every summer, their numbers swelling the cottagers who would stay for several months.
For much of the 20th century, the village was known as Metis Beach. Tourists searched in vain for the beach, which is in fact a rocky shore that is rich in seabirds and seals but mostly poor in sand and places to swim.
Today Métis-sur-Mer is a sleepy community with a handful of tourism operators and many summer homes. Behind the cedar hedges lies a rich history of tourism – because most of the homes were built by the hotel entrepreneurs who owned large shoreline hotels and added cottages to offer greater comfort for the wealthy patrons who came with their families and servants for several months in the summer. This tourism economy is mostly a thing of the past. But the rich photographic record and postcards penned by tourists help reconstruct a history that offers insights into local entrepreneurship and the story of holidaying in eastern Canada.