Communicating the site’s messages and heritage values
In order to ensure the commemorative integrity of the site, messages designed to communicate the commemorative intent will be developed with a view to enhancing the link between visitors and resources. Those messages will be clearly conveyed to the public, using methods adapted to various audiences.
An interpretation plan (titled Plan d’expérience de visite ), published in December 1998, sets out the chief parameters of the heritage experience offered visitors to Grosse Île, the main communication methods to be used, and the functional and spatial organization plan serving to frame communications methods.
For communicating messages of national significance, the interpretation plan advocates the following guidance:
- Wherever possible, the history and heritage values of Grosse Île will be communicated using surviving resources. However, in order to prepare visitors adequately for appreciating the site’s commemorative messages and help them understand the complex evolution of the station over nearly two centuries, background information will be given to visitors when they arrive on the island, inside the former disinfection building.
- The many sub-themes dealing with the history of the quarantine station will be presented at various locations throughout Grosse Île, and will be linked closely with surviving heritage resources; not only the disinfection building but also the secondclass hotel, the wash house, the Anglican chapel, the lazaretto, the Catholic chapel and the Catholic presbytery will be open to the public for this purpose.
- The tragedy of 1847 will be presented at the Celtic cross, the Irish cemetery, the Memorial and the lazaretto.
- The theme of immigration to Canada extends far beyond quarantine activities as such. Correlating this theme with surviving heritage resources is more difficult. Thus, presentation of this wide-ranging theme will be concentrated in one place, the secondclass hotel.
- The summer kitchen and the bakery will continue to host, as needed, travelling exhibitions on the theme of immigration or ethnocultural communities in Canada.
- The interpretive signs and displays installed on the island will blend in with the treatment used for preserving heritage resources, including cultural landscapes.
- Heritage interpreters are central to the communication process and will, for that reason, be judiciously deployed on the site for the purpose of guiding visitors as the latter discover resources and learn about commemorative messages.
- Generally speaking, exhibits will not require complicated techniques such as light-proof or controlled-atmosphere rooms, or sophisticated technology. Instead, lightweight, understated media such as straightforward display modules, texts and illustrations, or furnishings and items from the artifacts collection will be used. Positioning these elements inside the buildings open to the public will evoke their previous uses.
- Two interpretation trails will be laid out on the island, in keeping with the objective of sensitizing the audiences to both the wealth and fragility of ecological habitats in the St. Lawrence middle estuary area, and in accordance with the nature-culture approach advocated. One of the trails will be located in the northwest sector of the island, while the second will be situated on the eastern tip; both will provide visitors with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the environmental characteristics of the island identified as being of level 2 heritage value, and, in particular, with the exceptional vegetation. The biological and morphological components highlighted along both trails will be presented in terms of the influence of the St. Lawrence. In particular, three elements will be used to bring out this influence on both the natural environment and the life of the occupants of the quarantine station.
- – Presentation of the main characteristics of the St. Lawrence middle estuary and the Isle aux Grues archipelago.
- – Presentation of Grosse Île’s natural heritage via its physical and biological characteristics, with a view to enhancing appreciation of natural landscapes.
- – Presentation of: the acclimatization of the inhabitants of Grosse Île to this island environment; the influence of the river on access and the transportation of people and goods; the use of the island’s natural resources; and the influence of man on the landscape.
Both trails will be laid out in such a way as not to interfere with resources and historic pathways.
- The communication of level 2 messages and heritage values (the island’s pre-contact dimension, the presence of the Canadian Forces, activities of Agriculture Canada, etc.) will grow out of partnership agreements that could, at some point, be concluded with the organizations and departments concerned. Parks Canada will take the initiative of contacting and attracting potential collaborators. It will also demonstrate receptiveness to their proposals.
In addition to implementing this guidance, the superintendent of the historic site will analyze the set of issues surrounding the communication of level 1 messages to a non-visiting public. He will set up various off-site discovery approaches and outreach projects, including the improvement of the existing Website, which are likely to raise awareness among members of the main ethnocultural communities whose ancestors transited through the port of Québec and/ or Grosse Île during the major waves of immigration prior to World War II. Efforts will also be made to establish relationships with sites having thematic links with Grosse Île, be they at the international, national or regional level.
Preservation and presentation concept
Respecting the spirit of the place
Comprehensive and specific view of history
Grosse Île: looking to the future
Management objectives and key actions
Ensuring the commemorative integrity of the site
Commemorative plaques and monuments
Movable cultural resources
Communicating the site’s messages and heritage values
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada facilities
Preserving and presenting the natural environment
Shared management of the site