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Middle Bay

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The tiny village of Middle Bay has an intriguing history. Basque fishermen from the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain crossed the Atlantic Ocean to fish cod and harpoon whales in the Strait of Belle Isle during the 16th century. At Middle Bay, they built seasonal shelters onshore and sheds for rendering whale blubber into the oil that lit much of Europe. Red roof tiles unearthed near the fish plant in Middle Bay led archaeologists to discover a significant Basque whaling station here. Permanent settlement of this small fishing village began in the mid-19th century with the arrival of pioneers from Newfoundland and elsewhere in Quebec.


  • Middle Bay Interpretation Centre: This Centre serves as the gateway to the villages of Middle Bay and nearby St. Paul’s River and Old Fort. The newly-renovated Centre is located in the old school.  The permanent exhibition highlights the history and culture of the village and the region through a display of artifacts and images. Here, you will also find an exhibit of paintings, hand-made model boats, and hand-crafted items that showcase local traditional skills.
Middle Bay Interpretation Centre
Middle Bay Interpretation Centre

You can purchase local crafts and obtain visitor information at the Centre. The Middle Bay Interpretation Centre regularly hosts traveling exhibits. 

Open seasonally from Monday to Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.
Middle Bay, Quebec, G0G 1Z0
Contact:  Melva Flynn, Bonne Espérance Tourism Development Foundation
Tel:  (418) 461-2445

Middle Bay Hangars
  • Sandy beaches: A sandy beach and wooden deck behind the community hall is a perfect spot for a picnic.
  • Belles Amours: East of Middle Bay, route 138 passes through Belles Amours, a hamlet that was frequented by Basque fishing crews as well as 18th century French concessionaires. English-speaking residents established a seal fishery here in the 1830s.
  • Five Leagues archaeological site: A 45-minute walk along an unmarked footpath west of Middle Bay leads to the interesting archaeological site called Five Leagues. Archaeologists have retrieved tusks and stone artifacts, traces of the Inuit who once hunted walrus here, and red roof tiles indicate that Five Leagues, too, was a Basque whaling station.

In the mid-19th century, settlers ran a fishing business here. An old settler cemetery remains. Also located in Five Leagues, the Bottom is an ideal marsh for bird watching. Look for shorebirds such as plover, sandpiper, snipe, yellowlegs, and whimbrel, as well as black ducks and teal.

WHAT TO DO Barques in Middle Bay
Barques in Middle Bay

IN SUMMER : Hiking and walking, bird and whale watching, iceberg viewing, boat tours, sea kayaking, berry-picking, salmon fishing, wilderness camping, ATV

  • Smith’s Trail: Just to the east of Middle Bay off Route 138, follow an access road which leads to the local fish plant and traditional fishing stages.  From here, take a stroll along a footpath to the remains of a 16th century Basque whaling station.  Although this site has no formal interpretation just yet, residents can tell you about the great archaeological finds made here.

Please keep in mind that disturbing archaeological sites is prohibited, and that any artifacts you might see should be left onsite.

IN WINTER : Snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, winter carnival, hockey tournaments

  • Middle Bay Interpretation Centre Craft Shop

Jacques Cartier Trail, Flavour Route and Best of the Quebec-Labrador Coast

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