L'Anse-au-Griffon Valley - Living from the land and the forest

Forillon National Park

The Gaspé Peninsula was for many years “cod’s country.” Given the power of these merchants, the Catholic Church exhorted local people to vary their means of subsistence, particularly by farming the land. However, Forillon’s largely hilly geography made it ill-suited for large-scale farming, with the exception of the Anse-au-Griffon valley.

In 1851, the valley was surveyed and made open to settlement. In 1856, the Jersey-born businessman John Le Boutillier, who had settled at the mouth of Anse-au-Griffon River, had a carriageable road put in along the former portage route. By the year following, the valley had become home to 14 houses. In 1900, 37 families lived in this area, earning the better part of their income from growing grain and vegetables and raising cattle for milk and meat.

Aside from their farmlands, these families often owned a woodlot whose resources could be turned to good account. In a very short time, valley sawmills were operating full time, producing boards and planking for residential construction and shipbuilding, cedar shingles, staves for the large casks used to ship dry cod, timbers for the building and repair of wharves and bridges, and so on. In addition to these small local businesses, export companies located at the mouth of the river, such as Calhoun Lumber Co. of New Brunswick, purchased their wood from area farmers.

For the people inhabiting Anse-au-Griffon valley, fishing was a sideline – in total contrast with the people living at Grande-Grave.

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