Île Bonaventure

Despite its minute size, a favourable climate and abundant cod stocks induced French entrepreneurs to establish a seasonal fishery operation there in the 1600s. Simon Denys obtained seigneurial title (1674); his son Pierre had a chapel erected, soon thereafter razed by fire (1690).

Gannet, Northern
The most noteworthy feature of Ile Bonaventure is a migratory bird population of gannets, believed to be the largest colony of this species in the world (Corel Professional Photos). Sound of the gannet (press the Sound button) courtesy Monty Brigham, Bird Sounds of Canada.
Baie des Haricots
On Isle Bonaventure off the coast of Gaspé (Corel Professional Photos).

Île Bonaventure, 5 km2, is located in the Gulf of St Lawrence, 3 km offshore from Percé, Québec. For centuries, this site has been an object of curiosity and wonder among its explorers and visitors. The most noteworthy feature of the island is a migratory bird population of GANNETS (Morus bassana), assumed to be the largest colony of this species in the world. Other bird species inhabit the island in smaller numbers.

History

Despite its minute size, a favourable climate and abundant cod stocks induced French entrepreneurs to establish a seasonal fishery operation there in the 1600s. Simon Denys obtained seigneurial title (1674); his son Pierre had a chapel erected, soon thereafter razed by fire (1690).

The population has been noted for its folkloric imagination. Irish and Channel Islanders arrived by the final decade of the 18th century. Jersey merchant families built the cod exportation industry. Peter Du Val (1767-1851), a Jersey-born merchant and privateer, is a prominent figure in the island's mythology. Mountenay William DU VAL and his wife, Matilda, began conservation efforts during a period of the bird population's greatest decline.

The population of the island peaked (at approximately 200) before 1850. Full expropriation by the province of Québec in 1971 decreed depopulation. The site has since been designated a provincial park, and along with PERCÉ ROCK, it is a migratory BIRD SANCTUARY.


Further Reading

  • Aldo Brochet, "Peter Du Val" in Dictionary of Canadian Biography (vol 8); W. Earl Godfrey, The Birds of Canada (1986).