Anticosti is a large but sparsely-populated island in northeastern Quebec, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. While the island is over a hundred miles long, the only settlement of note on Anticosti is tiny Port-Menier (pop. 250) on the western coast. Much of the island is devoted to parkland or nature conservation.
Visitors to Anticosti come to fish for salmon on the Jupiter River or hunt white-tail deer. Anticosti Provincial Park straddles most of the island.
Aboriginal peoples visited the island for fishing and hunting. Jacques Cartier 'discovered' it for Europeans in 1534, although it remained without any permanent population until Louis IV gave it to the Jolliet family in 1680, who retained it until 1753. Since then it was used for only for timber harvesting until it was sold to French chocolatier Henri Menier in the late 19th century. He built Port Menier and introduced a deer population, who without natural predators expanded exponentially. Today there are more than 100,000 deer on the island, for a density of approximately 14 deer per km².
French is spoken by the inhabitants. In the hunting and fishing tourism industry, English is also widely used.
The closest access by boat or plane is typically from Havre-Saint-Pierre, Sept-Îles, or Baie-Comeau. Regular flights to Anticosti (IATA: YPN) are offered by Air Liaison (+1-877-589-8972) and SkyJet (+1-877-677-0033).
- Air Liaison, toll-free: . flies to Anticosti on Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri (one-way fares) from Havre-Saint-Pierre at 10:50AM ($162), from Baie-Comeau at 8:35AM and 9:15AM ($502-518), and from Sept-Îles at 9:15AM ($231). The return flights are on the same days: H-S-P at 10:25AM, B-C at 11:35 AM and 4:40PM, and S-I at 11:45 AM
It is possible to charter aircraft; outfitters have packaged flights from Mont-Joli, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre and occasionally Québec or Montréal as part of hunting expeditions.
It is possible to reach the island by ferry.
- M/V Nordik Express, 17 Lebrun Ave, Rimouski G5L 7R1, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Weekly departures from Havre-Saint-Pierre Sunday evening and from Rimouski noon Tuesday for Anticosti, by reservation. Outport ferries to supply various north shore mainland villages between Sept-Îles and Blanc Sablon which are not reachable by road.
The island is 222 km (135 miles) in length and mostly parkland or wilderness. It is possible to bring vehicles on the ferry or rent them in Port Menier; guided package tours may also include transport.
- Location Sauvageau, 55, chemin de la Ferme, Port-Menier, ☎ . Small truck rental.
- Capitaine Renauld Parisée, 42 Chemin de la Ferme, Port-Menier, ☎ . +1 418-567-8761. Various cruises and excursions to Anticosti and îles Mingan. Whale watching.
- Eco-museum (L’écomusée d’Anticosti), 1, rue du Couvent, Port Menier, ☎ , fax: . June-Sept.. History and ecology of Anticosti Island, furniture and artefacts from the time of Henri Menier.
- A guided tour of Port Menier village is offered by the municipality to coincide with the arrival of the M/V Nordik Express.
- There are six lighthouses on the island (Carleton Lighthouse is near Vauréal Falls; the cliffs offer a good vantage point for whalewatching) and various shipwrecks (the Calou at Pointe-de-l’Ouest and the Wilcox near Pointe-Carleton are the most accessible).
- Parc d'Anticosti, 25, chemin des Forestiers, Port-Menier, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Bird watching (with more than 130 species), local wildlife includes beavers, otters, seals and black bear. Camping, hiking, sea kayaking. White oceanfront cliffs. Explore canyons, caves, rivers and the 250' (76m) high Vauréal Falls.
Hunting and fishing are just about the only activities; both require a provincial license. There is trout and salmon in the area.
- Sépaq Anticosti, toll-free: . Provincial park, salmon fishing, deer hunting. Lodging at l’Hôtel de l’Île in Port Menier for visitors in transit. Campsites.
There is an artisan's boutique, a caisse populaire (Desjardins credit union, but with no ATM), a garage and a fuel station in Port Menier, the only village on the island.
- L'Accommodeur Malouin, 12B des Olympiades, Port-Menier, ☎ , fax: . 8am-8pm summer, 9am-6pm winter. Family-owned general store includes Ace Hardware, souvenir and convenience store.
There are restaurants in Port Menier and at the Auberge Chicotte and Auberge McDonald inns. A picnic area is beside the "Info Anticosti" house at 7, ch. des Forestiers (ile-anticosti.com, +1 418-535-0250).
- CoOperative Anticosti (Marché Richelieu), Port-Menier, ☎ , fax: . Local grocer with bakery, butcher, beer and wine, spirits, pizza, BBQ chicken, produce, seafood, ice, bait, propane and fuel. Preparation of orders in advance, deer meat cutting & packing service in season. Open year-round.
- Auberge de la Pointe-Ouest, ☎ . June-Sept.. Two former lightkeepers' houses at the western end of the island, 20km from Port-Menier. Offers guided tours and camping trips to park, including equipment and meals.
- Auberge Chicotte, Chicotte-la-Mer, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Ten room inn with restaurant on south shore of island.
- Auberge McDonald, McDonald Bay, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Sixteen room inn and restaurant on north shore of island overlooking Jacques Cartier Strait.
- l’Hôtel de l’Île, 143 rue des Forestiers, Port-Menier, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Licenced restaurant (6:30am-10pm) and ten-room inn. $65/night.
- Pourvoirie Lac Geneviève d'Anticosti, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Hunting outfitter for deer hunt. Five cedar cottages on the shore of Lac Geneviève, two former lightkeepers' houses on the north point of the island, cabin camp on the shore of Lac Valiquette. Limited access to electricity, depending on site; these are off-grid.
- Safari Anticosti, ☎ , fax: . Hunting outfitter with five main lodges (Bell River Lodge, Fox Lake Lodge, Safari Lodge, Louis Jolliet Lodge and Gisele Michaud Lodge) open seasonally on various parts of the island with large tracts of private land for deer hunting. Guides with truck and ATV. Cottages to accommodate between 6 to 8 hunters each at six sites in the three main areas.
Anticosti is off the beaten path. There is no hospital on the island and just one small clinic in Port Menier, so in some areas the nearest help of any kind is over a hundred miles away.
If driving on the island, watch for wildlife. Deer are plentiful even in the village and can do substantial damage in a vehicular collision, while hitting a moose can be deadly.
The waters around the island have also been the site of hundreds of shipwrecks over the years, so caution is advised.