Fill our lungs with marine air before heading back towards the city.
‘’We headed towards the St-Jean- Port-Joli marina to fill our lungs with marine air before heading back towards the city. What’s more relaxing than looking out into the great expanse and listening to the lull of
Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, population 3,348
Saint-Jean-Port-Joli is a must-see tourist village that holds a special place in Québec's cultural landscape. A true Mecca of sculpture, our picturesque village was put on Québec's tourist map by the work of three pioneers in the 1930s: Médard Bourgault (sculpture), Émilie Chamard (weaving) et Eugène Leclerc (model boats). Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence and near the marina, our village can be explored leisurely as you visit our studios, museums and parks, which all demonstrate the importance we place on sculpture and craftsmanship. Visitors can discover the village's little (and not so little!) treasures, such as the church built in 1779. Lodging and fine dining are plentiful here. You'll have no trouble finding enjoyable restaurants, B&Bs and inns.
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On May 25, 1677, Louis Buade, the Comte de Frontenac, granted a seigneury to Noël Langlois. This parcel measured two leagues of frontage, or 14.6 km, by the same in depth. Three years later, Jean-Nicolas Durand and Joseph Caron became the first people to clear the land and settle along the Trois-Saumons river.
In 1686, Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye, the most famous merchant in the colony, would purchase the Seigneurie du Port-Joly and, around the 1700s, start building the first seigneurial manor. In the years after, under the governance of the Aubert de Gaspé family, the seigneury would prosper. Agriculture, logging and fishing would help diversify the meager resources of the first colonists.
In spring 1759, the Côte-du- Sud was confronted with famine. The inhabitants were getting ready to seed their fields when they were warned to prepare for invasion by British soldiers. In September, British soldiers landed in Kamouraska and started their destructive march towards Quebec City. Saint-Jean- Port-Joliand the surrounding villages were burned to the ground, the buildings and boats destroyed. This would be the worst tragedy that the colony would ever experience.
The last seigneur of Saint-Jean- Port-Joli, Philippe Aubert de Gaspé (1786-1871), became famous with the publication of his novel titled ‘’Les Anciens Canadiens’’ in 1863. The story was inspired by the burning of the Côte-du- Sud during the Conquest of 1759 and highlights the tragic events experienced by the families of that time. Three years later, Philippe Aubert de Gaspé would publish his memoirs.
At the beginning of the 20 th century, three families from Saint-Jean-Port-Joli revived these crafts in Quebec. Their talented artistry gave rise to the growth of tourism in the parish during the crisis of the 1930s and, as a result, earned it an international reputation.
As of 1923, a short distance away from the village, Émilie Chamard was creating works in her home that she would sell to visiting tourists. As a travelling teacher for close to 20 years, she travelled the province in the service of the Ministry of Agriculture, and then for the École des Arts Domestiques. Later on, she would keep teaching from her home, where she would make some extraordinary creations on her loom, inspired by the local fauna and flora.
Médard Bourgault is considered to be the father of wood carving in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. In 1919, after several years at sea, he came back to his village where he would work as a carpenter. During the winter, he started wood carving. After ten years of research and hard work, his works would become well-known after his dicovery by Marius Barbeau, an anthropologist working at the Musée National de l'Homme in Ottawa.
Médard Bourgault was inspired by the surrounding environment and by religious art to create his sculptures. In 1931, he invited his brothers Jean-Julien and André to come work with him. The three brothers would continue to develop their folk art, inspired by the everyday life of the villagers and farmers and by Quebec folktales and legends.
In 1940, the government of Quebec approved a project to establish a school for wood carving in the workshop of Médard and Jean-Julien. The project was initiated by Jean-Marie Gauvreau, who was at that time director of the École du Meuble de Montréal. Many young people from here and abroad were introduced to the art in the school headed by the Bourgault brothers.
For his part, Eugène Leclerc reminisced on his life as a sailor on the high seas, a lighthouse keeper and a carpenter in a shipyard to build his replicas of sailing ships. He brought his memories to life with an impressive fleet of models of renowned ships. The works of this model ship maker encompass several centuries of sailing.
Today, the tradition endures. Artists and artisans follow in the steps of these original creators and contribute to the reputation of Saint-Jean- Port-Joli as an exceptional artistic community. Over the years, painting, jewellery, ceramics, woodworking, metalworking and other crafts would be added to the existing disciplines. A number of sites, halls, museums, boutiques and restaurants help preserve the visibility of these works, with exhibits and major events celebrating the local culture.
Have a pleasant stay in Saint-Jean- Port-Joli!