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Building a Road Network to Develop Tourism

A man is only as good as his circulation system

J.T. Bertrand, engineer for the Gaspé district, 1919

Roads are designed by engineers and financed by governments. But few highways are built without political pressure. The Gaspé region had to fight for its roads. Mayors and members of the provincial legislature pestered the government to build highways to connect coastal villages.

Sepia photograph of a car on the Boulevard Perron consisting of a gravel road winding at the foot of a huge rocky cape in the narrow passage between the cliff and the sea. A simple wooden fence separates the road from the shoreline

The building of roads was essential to breaking coastal communities out of their isolation

One of the compelling reasons to improve roads and bridges in the province was that urgent repairs were required to the existing road network in any case. Whatever had been built in the previous century was at the end of its life and had to be replaced to withstand the increased traffic and heavier vehicles of the 1920s.

Photograph of the old wooden Bridge at Grand-Métis circa 1925. The bridge is located about 1 km from the mouth of the Metis River. Both sides of the river present a forest landscape and wharf. A schooner is moored at the mouth of the river and offers a glimpse of the expanse of the St. Lawrence River.

The old wooden bridge over the Metis River was about to be replaced when this photograph was taken by Robert W. Reford in the 1920s.


The construction of the coastal road around the Gaspé Peninsula was a major initiative of Québec’s Ministère de la Voirie. The project was promoted by the energetic minister, Joseph-Léonide Perron, and supported by the Liberal government who saw the highway as a tool for economic development and an opportunity to capture the rising tide of tourists looking for regions to explore.

Cover of a colored brochure titled Quebec The Good Roads Province brochure. The illustration shows a coastal village on the Gaspé Peninsula. In the foreground, a young couple seems to be coming back from fishing, the man carries and de woman an oar. Behind them, a car passes through the village and in the background some rustic houses are clustered around a church at the foot of a mountain. The words Fishing, Bathing, Hunting and Resorts are found at the top and bottom. The credit reads Provincial Tourist Bureau Department of Highways and mines Quebec, Canada.

Quebec the Good Roads Province brochure from 1933 promoted Quebec as a destination for drivers from the United States.

The government began re-building the road east from Rimouski to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts in 1925. Construction of the road from Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to Matapédia was completed in 1928. The final stretch of highway from Saint-Anne-des-Monts to Gaspé was completed just in time for its official opening in July, 1929.

Postcard showing a car rolling on the gravel surface of the Perron Boulevard around 1930. The Perron Boulevard runs along the foot of a steep mountain and the bank of the St. Lawrence River near Sainte-Anne-des-Monts.

The road from Matane to Ste-Anne-des-Monts offers some of the most beautiful seascapes and vistas in the region