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The Matapédia

The Matapédia River valley can justly claim the prize as the Kingdom of the Atlantic salmon. Many other rivers have staked a claim to the title, but the Matapedia has been synonymous with sport-fishing since the 1850s when the river became the playground of the wealthy and their fishing parties.

The front cover of the Restigouche Hotel brochure in the Matapedia Valley. The flyer includes a photograph in an oval frame of the hotel, a four-storey red brick square building and a photograph of the meeting of the Restigouche and Matapedia rivers. It also presents the activities on offer: salmon pools, moose and deer hunting and trout fishing.

“This is salmon country” declared the brochure for the Restigouche Hotel that also highlighted its unique location at the meeting of the Restigouche and Matapedia Rivers.


For much of its history, the river was the private paradise of a select few. Coddled in their luxurious camps, their exploits on the river were shared around the world. But beware the traveller who tried to fish a pool that was marked ‘private’. Giving access to this and other salmon rivers was a debate that raged for decades before action was finally taken in the 1970s. The move to replace private clubs with public access was achieved through the creation of zones of controlled access (ZEC). The move to nationalize private clubs was controversial at the time but has since come to be seen as a model for local collective management of a precious resource.

Black and white photograph taken along route 132 in the village of Routhierville in the Matapedia Valley. The road crosses a landscape of forests and mountains. On the right side of the photograph, a fishing club is perched on top of a hillock. On the side of the road sign indicates Cold Spring Camp, Private and No Admission

“PRIVATE NO ADMISSION” is the sign that flanked the entrance to the Cold Spring Camp on the Matapédia River, making clear that the club and its salmon pools were off limits to non-members.


Lucky drivers are sometimes offered the chance of seeing an angler in the fast current in the poetic movement of rod and line trying to hook a salmon. Today’s anglers are united by their love of the sport and their interest in preserving this precious resource.

The Gaspé tour often ends or begins with the Matapédia. Whether the starting or the end point, it provides a verdant backdrop that contrasts with the coastal road that hugs the St. Lawrence. Where the highway follows the banks of the river, the twisting and turning road opens onto breathtaking views of the steep hills and fast-flowing water. The vistas are many and punctuated with lookouts and rest stops to allow visitors to enjoy them on their trip through the valley.

Black and white photograph of the Matapedia River that descends the Matapedia Valley winding between the mountains and forest of evergreen trees.

The terrain of the Matapedia Valley is ideal for cyclists.