Philomene’s Falls, QC

Once upon a time there was a lady named Philomene Dube. Her husband, Francois Gauthier, had died in an accident, leaving her to raise her family on her own, on the the land at the crossroads near the falls. It is said that her home was always open to travelers on their way to and from Amqui, requiring shelter from harsh weather. She is remembered for her kindness and hospitality.

In Amqui there is a lovely spot with a table beside the Matapedia River next to the covered bridge. A perfect place to stop for a picnic. I break apart the fresh ciabatta bun I purchased in Matane, and neatly layered on lettuce, tomato, slices of firm avocado, some Yves veggie turkey. Bon appetit Kelly! I chomp and tear away at my lunch watching the river flow by. It is my last day of my Gaspe vacation and I reflect on all I have seen.

My sandwich finished, I dab around my mouth with my napkin and dust the crumbs from my shirt. I am ready to go. I saw a picture on Instagram of a waterfall just ten minutes away, called La Chute a Philomene, or, Philomene’s Falls, and that is my next stop.

I drive past farms and fields backing onto forests of spruce trees for several kilometers on a rural road called Route de Saint-Alexandre. At a crossroad. a sign points towards Philomene’s Falls 650 meters further, and I wait for a truck to pass before making the left turn onto Rang Saint Louis. On the left is the parking lot into the falls.

A fine mist of rain is starting to dot up my windshield and I push my arms through the sleeves of my raincoat, grabbing my camera and making sure the lens cap is secure before exiting into the rain.

The building looks like a welcome center so I knock on the door. It gives off a hollow sound of vacancy and I shuffle over to the window filled with cobwebs and peer through. There is no attendant. The trail maps holder is empty. The metal lock box with a slot in the top has a sticker identifying the Community of Sainte Andxandre-Des-Lacs as the custodians of the property. Donations are requested to help with upkeep of the site. I slip three loonies in the opening and head up the trail.

A short crushed gravel path separates a forest of spruce and white birch trees for a hundred meters or so, emerging at a newly constructed suspension platform that juts out over a gorge. I am impressed with the structure, it is very accessible to everyone. I make my way to the end feeling a slight vibrating bounce rippling through the metal. There are views in all directions and I snap a few photos of the falls against the wall of rock, and river below. It very much reminds me of Walton-glen-gorge. now part of the the-Fundy-trail-parkway, in New Brunswick.

From the suspension platform over looking the falls

Just before the platform are trails lead off to the left and right. I head down many flights of stairs, taking several minutes to descend to the base of the falls. Theses are not so accessible to anyone with mobility issues.

One set of stairs down

The falls tumble 30 meters, or 100 feet, from the top. A smaller cascade just below the big falls, that goes almost unnoticed from above, adds a second tier. I walk over some rocks and stand at the base, listening to the shower of water splashing down spraying outwardly off the rocky bottom. I have the place all to myself to play with my camera settings to get the perfect shot. The rain picks up and rather than get my camera wet, I decide to leave, climbing back up the many levels of stairs to the top.

On my drive out of the parking lot, I stop at the sign and this is where I learn about Philomene Dube, and how the falls are named after her. Rest in peace Philomene, you have been remembered.

Please join me next time as I visit a provincial historic site, Matamajaw Lodge in Causapscal, Quebec. Happy travels from Maritimemac.

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