The history of Pointe Saint-Pierre (Point St. Peter)
Exerts taken from the article by Pierrre Rastoul, in the Gaspésie magazine, spring 1998

Bordered on the north by the Bay of Gaspé and on the south by the Malbay , the point of land named Pointe St-Pierre advances out into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence as would a springboard opening on three sides of the sea into the large horizon. From the small cove on the north flank ( in the last century the site offered a privileged access to the shoals of fish situated close to the « Gaspé coast ») notably the American banks.

In other words, its geographic location is almost in the center of the economic poles of Gaspé and Percé – destined to be the perfect region for exploitation by the fishermen and the enterprises that employed them.

As you see today, it is hard to imagine that Point St-Pierre was once one of the most important fishing establishments, with human occupations and with the most buildings on the Gaspé coast. Now where subsides a few ancient dwellings , it happens that in the second half of the 20th century, close to 100 buildings existed: family homes, cookrooms, scaffolds, warehouses and stores without counting the agricultural storerooms and the local craftsmen that helped furnish the local enterprises. The conservation quality of certain architectural homes (in particular the Legros’s and the Fauvel’s homes) lets us suppose that these mansions didn’t just watch over half deserted fields blowing in the wind; their proprietors were surely quiet prosperous.

The historical activity of Pointe Saint-Pierre was concentrated in the bay sector where around the end of the 19th century was installed a somewhat large and important wharf. It was made in the rocky outcrop that closes the eastern extremity.

 

 

The wharf was made to serve the heavy tons of maritime traffic that used the point, notably the large ships that effected the transport of local fish overseas to other seaports; but also it was the port of attachment to large schooners who did the coastal navigation with their merchandise and also it received the passengers of different steamers. Meanwhile the fishing barges where kept more anchored in the bay where long riggings attached to large buoys that were more at large served to anchor on their long cords the fisherman’s barges to each their own establishments.

Under the French regime, there seems to be no indication of occupancy, but the exception of a little missionary chapel at the end of the 17th century, also maybe the possibility of seasonal fishermen in the beginning of the 18th century. It is only around 1785, time of the Loyalists arrival in the Gaspé region, that we find the installations of permanent buildings at Pointe Saint-Pierre. It is firstly fishing businessmen who set up buildings as the land topography seemed to be destined to fishing.

In 1866, when Thomas Pye visited the Pointe Saint-Pierre, he found three fishing enterprises in operation: John & Elias Collas Co., John Fauvel Co.et Alexandre et LeGresley. Founded around the 1850’s, all seemed to develop in very complex property transactions often by the re-buying of existing businesses already in the fishing mode. Some where very grand but there were also very modest acquisitions. The John & Elias Collas Co. constituted the most important business of the Point Saint-Pierre history. It was the largest spreading company and also the Collas played a major role in the Gaspésian fishing industry. At the same time as the Collas, John Fauvel and his sons longtime exploited a large and important company. The Alexanders, LeGresleys, LeMarquands and the Legros make up a long succession of families and companies who in fact constituted one company operating in continuity for a period of close to a century.