Banc de Pêche de Paspébiac National Historic Site of Canada

Paspébiac, Quebec
General view of the Banc de Pêche de Paspébiac National Historic Site of Canada. (© Parks Canada | Parcs Canada)
General view
(© Parks Canada | Parcs Canada)
Address : 76 3e Rue, Paspébiac, Quebec

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1973-11-15
  • 1783 to 1900 (Construction)
  • 1783 to 1900 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Le Boutillier Brothers  (Organization)
  • Robin, Pipon and Company  (Organization)
  • C. Robin and Company Limited  (Organization)
  • Charles Robin-Collas Company Limited  (Organization)
  • Charles Robin Company  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Banc de Pêche de Paspébiac  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1973-M, 1998-041, 2000-052, 2000-OB-06, 2001-007, 2009-SDC-CED-076


Existing plaque:  76 3e Rue, Paspébiac, Quebec

The Paspébiac fishing post, which constitutes a landmark in the history of fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, symbolizes the great era of inshore fishing in eastern Canada. Headquarters of dried cod exporting corporations such as the powerful company owned by Charles Robin from Jersey, the site speaks of the widespread control over the industry in the Gaspé Peninsula by Channel Island merchants beginning in 1766. For more than 150 years, the labour of the fishery workers was defined by the harsh trading practices of the cod companies, which left a deep imprint on the society and economy of the region.

Description of Historic Place

Banc de Pêche de Paspébiac National Historic Site of Canada is an inshore fisheries landscape containing 10 of the approximately 60 buildings that once stood on the sandspit surrounding the broad barachois lagoon at Paspébiac on Québec’s Gaspé peninsula. The buildings use a simple classically derived vocabulary in the New England tradition. The site was associated with the inshore fishery practiced in the region for more than 150 years. The designation refers to the landscape with its fisheries-related buildings and structures.

Heritage Value

Banc de Pêche de Paspébiac was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1973. It is recognized because:
it is an evocative reminder of the commercial cod fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as part of the history of Canada’s East Coast fishery; and, the variety, size and preserved condition of the buildings on this site illustrate its social and economic significance, and the evolution of commercial fishing activities over a period of more than 150 years.

The heritage value of Banc de Pêche de Paspébiac National Historic Site of Canada resides in the site’s association with inshore fishery as illustrated by its setting, structures and buildings. Most of the surviving buildings originated in the 19th century and are associated with the business complexes of two of the most powerful companies in what was a deeply syndicated industry. The largest complex was built by Charles Robin and Co., created in 1766 and variously known as Robin, Pipon and Co., C. Robin and Co. Ltd., and the Charles Robin-Collas Co. Ltd. as it continued to operate well into the 20th century. A second, smaller complex was the premise of the Le Boutillier Brothers, established in 1838. In 1964, fire destroyed most of the early complexes, leaving only seven buildings and a powder magazine built by Robin and three buildings constructed by Le Boutillier Brothers.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1998, June 2001; Commemorative Integrity Statement, 2003.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
• the location on the Bay of Chaleur in the Gaspé region of Québec;
• the natural topography resulting in the broad lagoon (barachois) which projects into the Bay of Chaleur, and a triangular section of the long sandspit which borders the lagoon;
• the location of the associated buildings within the triangle on the west end of the sandspit, directly opposite the village of Paspébiac;
• the various heights and sizes of the buildings, the wide variety of original construction materials, and the evidence of a range of craftsmanship and construction technologies;
• the spatial disposition of the buildings; - the visual dominance of the Le Boutillier store building, with its relatively large size and five-storey height, rectangular footprint, steep end gable roof with flared eaves, and the balanced articulation of its openings with the bull’s-eye window in an otherwise sparely decorated exterior, its utilitarian details such as the spare use of simple, flat trim, the large loading doors on the main façade, and the use of simple materials such as squared timber framing, small-paned windows, wood shingle cladding, and corrugated metal, and its surviving interior layout with large central ground floor corridor and large interior volume sub-divided into several floor levels by timber framing, evidence of its historic siting on a wharf and its present location on the seaward side of the Le Boutillier complex near the footbridge to the mainland;
• the Le Boutillier office building in its rectangular one-and-a-half-storey massing under a steep gable roof, its functional design with large rectangular windows and doors raised to permit entry from an elevated porch, its scored stucco exterior covering and shingled roof material, its brick infill construction, and its location in the Le Boutillier complex immediately beside the footbridge to the mainland;
• the Le Boutillier hangar in its large rectangular one-and-a-half-storey form under a steep gable roof, its balanced articulation with paired windows on either side of a central loading door, its simple utilitarian materials such as 12 over 12 double hung windows, shingle-covered exterior walls and corrugated metal roof, its wood frame construction, and its location in the Le Boutillier complex immediately beside the footbridge to the mainland;
• the powder magazine with its small, square massing under a steeply pitched shingled roof with flared eaves, its finely executed Gothic Revival details such as the pointed ogee arch, oval, finials, and date stone, its fine craftsmanship and materials evident in the ashlar masonry façade, coursed rubble side elevations, carved finials, cast iron oval and door, its solid wall construction, and isolated location;
• the viewscapes to one another and to other buildings on the Banc de Pêche, seaward and landward towards the footbridge and the lagoon;
• the archaeological evidence of former structures in its location, form and materials, and of fisheries-related activities;
• the presence of wharves, ramps, and other structures and remnants linked with commercial and sea-faring activities.