From city settings with skyscrapers reaching towards the sky and an abundance of cultures to smaller, quaint towns seemingly in the middle of nowhere but rich with history, Quebec truly has just about everything. June 24 is recognized as the national holiday of Quebec and is celebrated in a grand way throughout the province each year so in celebration of my hometown province, I’ve decided to put together a little list of some worthy places to visit in Quebec but instead of including the nicest towns to visit or something of the sorts, I’ve decided rather to show you some of the most unusual and unique places that can be visited in this beautiful province.
Read also ‘ 10 of the Most Unique and Unusual Destinations in Canada ‘
The Grand Gathering | Saint Flavie
Found on the bed of the Saint Lawrence river in the area of Saint Flavie, is an art project known as the ‘grand gathering’ which was created by a well known Quebecois artist, Marcel Gagnon. There are over 100 human like figures that are spread out along the bottom of the river and are mainly all arm less pillars that are about as tall as a human adult with a carved out face in them. What makes this art project so unique but also pretty creepy is due in part to the placement of the statues, where when the high tide is in, the statues are completely submerged underwater and as the tide slowly disappears the statues reappear as quickly as they vanished.
Asbestos Mines | Thetford Mines
Asbestos was once considered a miracle material known for being fire resistant and was used primarily as insulation until it was discovered that the material posed huge health risks to humans, even causing cancer. Until the health hazards of this material were discovered and the benefits of the fiber outweighed the risks, asbestos was the focal point of Canada’s economy for about a century. One of the largest asbestos producing areas in the world was the region now known as Thetford Mines today when large deposits of asbestos were discovered there in 1876. Though the mines are now closed and shut for business, the large, open pits remain in place and are often a reminder of the once bustling business of asbestos extraction. The pits are also now filled with turquoise, blue waters and are a focal point for visitors with tours even being offered to go into the mines.
Pingualuit Crater | Riviere Korsoak
Located on the Ungava Peninsula in the North of the province, is the Pingualuit crater. This crater was created by a meteorite impact and is estimated to be about 1.4 million years old and has lived through two ice ages. The crater is now filled with water where precipitation is the only source of water and evaporation is the only time that the crater lake loses any water. Since the lake is covered in a layer of thick ice for more than half of the year, the lake is known to be one of the clearest and purest lakes in the world. At 1,300 feet deep, it is also the deepest lake recorded in all of North America.
Morrin Center | Quebec City
Over 200 years ago, the first prison in Quebec City was built. Since it was the only prison at the time, prisoners were crammed in all together with no regards to their crimes which often lead to minor offenders such as thieves and those who were drunk in public to be housed with more serious inmates such as rapists and murderers. In 1868 the conditions of the prison were deemed to be unlivable and so the prison closed its doors and ceased all operations. Today, the abandoned prison is now home to Quebec City’s only English library which is also used as a cultural center designed to educate the public about the cultural and historic contribution of English speakers in the province. The library books are lined against the walls in what used to be the prison’s main area and also along the balcony which was used to hang prisoners who were sentenced to death for their crimes.
Habitat 67 | Montreal
Costing over 22 million dollars to build, Habitat 67 sits along the Saint Lawrence river with it’s unique and stunning skyline attracting tons of visitors each year. The apartment style building was created by an architect named Moshe Safdie to temporarily house the workers who were working at the famous Expo 67. The building was created to house as much people as possible and resembles a bunch of shipping containers stacked atop each other. Habitat 67 is made up of 354 identical boxes which holds 146 apartments in total that range between 1 to 4 bedroom units. Each unit has access to a private garden which is quite literally built on top of the roof of a neighboring garden and with prices for one of the units ranging between $2,500 to $4,000 a month, it is no cheap place to call home.
Arthur Villeneuve House | Saguenay
Arthur Villeneuve was a respected and well known barber in the Saguenay region of Quebec. At the age of 47 he picked up a paint brush for the first time and discovered his love for the art of painting. He became obsessed with creating artwork and painting anything he could find, even his own house. Arthur painted every square inch possible of his and his wife’s home which took him a little over two years to complete. He used a variety of different art styles, designs, and colors to cover everything from his walls and ceilings to the furniture and everything else in between. Once he was finished with his large scale art project in 1959, he opened the doors to his home to allow visitors to come and marvel at his creations. Up until 1990 when Arthur sadly passed away, he and his wife continued allowing people from all over into their home. Today, Arthur’s home can be found inside the walls of the Musee de la Pulperie de Saguenay, where visitors can still walk inside Arthur’s home to marvel at his art work like he always wanted.
Haskell Free Library and Opera House | Stanstead
Though at first glance this library and opera house doesn’t sound like much, it is the location of the building that makes it so different and unique. The library is located in both Stanstead, Quebec, Canada as well as Derby Line, Vermont, USA since it was built directly on the border dividing the two countries. The majority of the books and the opera stage are located in Canada and the opera seats and the main entrance of the building being found in America. Though the entrance to the library is in the United States, visitors from Canada are permitted to enter without going through U.S customs as long as they return to Canada immediately after leaving the building. The library and opera house was a gift from a mother and son duo who wanted to build on the border in order to give both Canadians and Americans equal access to the building. Once the plans were made, construction began in 1901 with the opera house being completed in 1904 and the library a year later in 1905.
So there you have it, some of the weirder and more unique destinations that can be found in Quebec. If you want to discover even more unusual places to visit, be sure to check out ‘ 10 of the Most Unique and Unusual Destinations in Canada‘ and until next time, Happy St-Jean to all of my fellow Quebecers.