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.
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.
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.
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.