A less obvious attraction was just minutes away in the village of Petite-Rivière-de-l’Île. From the outside, Sainte-Cécile Church looks like just another of the well-kept, white wooden churches that dot the province. The parking lot was empty, but we’d been told that the door is always unlocked. It was, and we entered to a canvas of color and bold designs that cover the church’s walls and ceiling. This unexpectedly bright art dates to the 1970s, as does the Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival, which every summer draws thousands of music lovers to the church and its exceptional acoustics. (Because of financial problems, the 2013 festival is in jeopardy.)
From Lamèque, we crossed the bridge onto Miscou for lunch at Steve’s, just in time for the owner to feed Fred the heron his meal of fish heads. (Fred has become a regular since Bezeau nursed it back to health from a wing injury a few years ago.) We then headed to the lighthouse, stopping at each level to look at the photos and other exhibits before reaching the top, where we scouted terrain for our main mission: combing the beach.
Miscou has two “official” beach areas. Adrien Gionet Beach on Chaleur Bay has bathrooms and a place to change. Wilson Point Beach is also swimmable, with abundant sand dunes that make it a good place for bird-watching. But Miscou is essentially an unending expanse of undeveloped beach. From the lighthouse, we just meandered along the island’s northeastern coast. Though the day was warm and sunny, our only companions were a few offshore seals. We found all kinds of interesting rocks and driftwood of many shapes and sizes. We kept strolling until a path reached one of Miscou’s many clear ponds.
In 2010 the Society of American Travel Writers gave its Phoenix Award to Miscou Island, calling it “one of the single most beautiful spots in the world.” We left wondering if it would stay that way for long.
Not to worry, said Bezeau. “We islanders want to keep our island the way it is. Come back in 20 years and my place will be exactly the same.”
Phil Primack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.