Quebec Quandary

A Paddler's Dream: The Bonaventure River
Bonaventure River Practicalities
Length : 85 Miles.
Difficulty : Class II - IV
Hazards : Rapids, remote wilderness
Cautions : Help is not readily available in this remote area.
Location : Gaspe peninsula in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Best time to go : Early to mid-June
How to get there : Highway 132 from Quebec City
Permits, fees, and special regulations, if any : None
For more information : Contact Sunrise Expeditions

The Bonaventure surges out of the Chic Chocs Mountains of eastern Quebec (yes, there are mountains in Quebec). As with most mountain rivers, the water is clear and cold, and moves at a fast clip. The Bonaventure River flows through the Gaspe Peninsula, a giant thumb of land sticking out into the cold waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Gaspe is a long haul from anywhere and, although there are small fishing villages scattered here and there on the peninsula's edge, the interior is virtually uninhabited. For canoeists, this means an undisturbed expanse of virgin wilderness surrounding an unspoiled gem of whitewater.

The river is a dream, an almost endless smorgasbord of Class II and III rapids, with a few Class IVs thrown in for good measure. The Bonaventure originates deep in the Gaspe's interior and flows south 85 miles to Chaleur Bay in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Deep canyons, looming mountain peaks, and incredible scenery add to the feast. Moose, black bear, and lynx inhabit the Gaspe.

Best time to run the Bonaventure is in early- to mid-June. The mountain snowmelt is at its peak, the runoff is high enough to practically guarantee exciting rapids, and the bugs have yet to begin their annual onslaught. Not as challenging as the Moisie, the Bonaventure can still reach up and bite you. Its remoteness ensures that you will probably have the river to yourself, at least until you near its mouth at the sea.

The Gaspe is about 330 miles from Quebec City, so make the trip worthwhile. Part of the fun of running the Bonaventure is driving there. The coast road (Highway 132) follows the sheer cliffs and coves of the rugged coastline, threading through the picturesque villages and forests. Take extra time after your canoeing to drive to the eastern end of the peninsula and visit the Parc National Forillon. Ninety-three square miles of dense forest are there for your exploration and enjoyment.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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