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Management Plan

Grosse Île and its cultural landscapes

Grosse Île is one of 21 islands forming the Isle aux Grues archipelago bounded by Île d’Orléans and Île aux Coudres. This region has always been known as being difficult to navigate. For centuries, the shoals, cays and reefs, and, as well, the narrow straits between islands and local mooring areas, have remained virtually unchanged.

With a surface area of 185 hectares, Grosse Île today looks much the same as it did when the quarantine station opened. Most of the island is overlooked by hills or high plateaus. By and large, it has remained in its natural state and is home to a variety of tree species. The whole island is ringed with intertidal zones. Rock outcroppings alternate with the rough sandy beaches inside sheltered inlets.

The spatial organization of land use on Grosse Île dates back to the early years of the quarantine station. The concentration of buildings and facilities on the island’s southern shore, dating from the earliest activities, is still present today. This layout is doubtless explained by the location of the main navigation channel at the time, known as the “Quarantine Strait.”

Aerial view of Grosse Île with, in the foreground, Cholera Bay at high tide. A number of islands included within the Isle aux Grues archipelago can be seen in the distance. Aerial view of Grosse Île with, in the foreground, Cholera Bay at high tide. A number of islands included within the Isle aux Grues archipelago can be seen in the distance.
Jacques Beardsell Parks Canada

The three sectors associated with the various functions of the quarantine station can still be made out today. Moreover, with only a few changes, the road running the length of the island corresponds to that which was built during the early years of the station. The vestiges of the eastern (“lower”) wharf and the location of the current western (“upper”) wharf still testify to the facilities set up in the mid-19th century. Finally, cemeteries have been a feature of the island since the quarantine station first opened.

The many buildings on the island present a more modern picture, reflecting the major alterations to the facilities at the turn of the 20th century. As a result, the current landscape bears little trace of the intense activity which occurred on the island at the time of the major epidemics.

Despite inevitable changes, the landscapes on Grosse Île have retained their aura of authenticity and continue to be laden with meaning. The cemeteries, along with building architecture and layout and the proximity of buildings to the river, lend this site an exceptional capacity for evoking the past. The historic names that continue to be used for different parts of the island, such as “Hospital Bay,” “Cholera Bay,” “Irish Cemetery,” and “Cap Masson”, are further proof of this.

The commemorative integrity statement contains a more detailed description of the cultural landscapes and the most significant views (level 1) to be found on the island.
Commemorative integrity of the site

Commemorative intent
Resources symbolizing or representing the national significance of Grosse Île
Grosse Île and its cultural landscapes
On-site cultural resources
Movable cultural resources
Messages of national historic significance
Messages for the Canadian public
Messages for visitors to the site
Communication challenges
Other heritage values of the site
Precontact dimension of Grosse Île
Earliest settlers and agricultural use of the island before the quarantine station period
The Canadian Forces (1942-1945, 1951-1956)
Agriculture Canada (research and training station, animal quarantine)
International, national and regional links
Outstanding natural surroundings