Rimouski is a city of just under 50,000 people (2016) in Quebec's Bas-Saint-Laurent region. Rimouski can be considered the university city of eastern Quebec. Travellers often view Rimouski merely as a stop on the way to the Gaspé Peninsula, but there are many interesting things to see in the region.
The Regional Hospital of Rimouski is the largest employer in Rimouski and the region is with 2200 employees and 170 doctors. One of Rimouski's primary economic fields is its maritime sector. Around 1900 the port was important for operating mail tenders such as HMCS Lady Evelyn for transatlantic liners. These could take mail from an arriving ship in the mouth of the St Lawrence, then speed it by rail to Quebec, arriving long before the ship. Rimouski is the home of the Institut Maritime du Québec, a college, and to many marine research centres, such as the Institut des sciences de la mer (ISMER), the Centre de recherche sur les biotechnologies marines and the Centre interdisciplinaire de développement en cartographie des océans.
The city was founded in 1696 by Sir René Lepage de Ste-Claire from Ouanne in the Burgundy region. He exchanged property he owned on the Île d'Orléans with Augustin Rouer de la Cardonnière for the Seigneurie of Rimouski, which extended along the St. Lawrence River from the Hâtée River at Le Bic to the Métis River. De la Cardonnière had been the owner of Rimouski since 1688, but had never lived there. René Lepage moved his family to Rimouski, where it held the seigneurie until 1790, when it was sold to the Quebec City businessman Joseph Drapeau.
On May 6, 1950 Rimouski suffered a severe fire, in which 319 houses burned to the ground. This event is known as La nuit rouge (French for Red Night). The fire originated in the Price Brothers Company yard on the left shore of the Rimouski River and quickly crossed the river and spread throughout the city pushed by strong winds, destroying half of the city. No one died in the blaze. Legend has it that a priest sprinkled holy water around the city's cathedral and that the fire would not cross the line.
The Bas-Saint-Laurent region is not as touristic as the Gaspé Peninsula, so speaking a bit of French can help you very much.
- 1 Tourisme Rimouski, 50 rue Saint-Germain Ouest, ☏ , toll-free: (Canada-US). Early May to mid-Jun: M-F 09:00-16:30; mid-June to early Sep: daily 08:30-19:30; early Sep-early Oct: M-F 08:30-17:30, Sa Su 11:00-16:00; early Oct-early May: M-F 09:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:30.
- Aéroport régional de Mont-Joli (YYY IATA) is the closest airport with scheduled flights, 35 km to the east of Rimouski.
- Air Canada makes daily flights from Baie-Comeau and Montréal; that is, two flights daily, except Saturdays, when there is one morning flight
- Pascan Aviation makes daily flights from Quebec City, Montréal, Baie-Comeau/Sept-Îles and Bonaventure/Îles de la Madeleine throughout the year, 5 days a week, from Monday to Friday
- 1 Rimouski Airport (YXK IATA). General aviation and cargo flights.
- See also: Rail travel in Canada
- 2 Rimouski station (Gare de Rimouski), 57 rue de l'Évêché Est. Train operator:
- VIA Rail Canada, toll-free: . Operates train routes across Canada. Operates The Ocean route between Halifax and Montreal, including stops in Moncton and Sainte-Foy (near Quebec City). Travel time to Rimouski from Montreal is 8 hours, from Sainte-Foy is 4 hours, from Moncton is 9.5 hours, and from Halifax is 14 hours. Operates three trips per direction per week. A shuttle between train stations in Sainte-Foy and in Quebec City is available for The Ocean trains, but must be reserved in advance. Eastbound train arrives at 01:30 and the westbound train arrives at 01:50, three times weekly, which transits just after midnight to Quebec City.
Route 132 leads westward to Quebec City and Montreal. There are two disconnected segments of Autoroute 20 which bypass portions of this road; one is a local bypass around Rimouski, the other is the main freeway from Rivière-du-Loup westward to Ontario. It takes about 3 hours by car from Quebec City to Rimouski.
Route 132 east forks at Ste-Flavie near Mont-Joli, becoming a coastal road which circles the entire Gaspé Peninsula.
- Orléans Express, ☏ , toll-free: . Operates bus routes within Quebec and to Ottawa.
- Routes operating to Rimouski
- Between Quebec City and Rimouski including stops in Rivière-du-Loup and Trois-Pistoles. Same day travel to and from Montreal available with a transfer at Quebec City. Travel time to Rimouski from Montreal is 7-7.75 hours, from Quebec City is 4.25-4.75 hours, and from Rivière-du-Loup is 1.5 hours.
- Between Gaspé and Rimouski including stops in Grande-Vallée, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Matane, and Mont-Joli. Travel time to Rimouski from Gaspé is 6.75 hours, from Matane is 1.25 hours, from Mont-Joli is 25 minutes. Route follows the St. Lawrence River along the north side of Gaspé Peninsula.
- Between Gaspé and Rimouski including stops in Percé, Chandler, Bonaventure, Pointe-à-la-Croix, Amqui, and Mont-Joli. Travel time to Rimouski from Gaspé is 8.5 hours, from Percé is 7.5 hours, from Bonaventure is 5.5 hours, from Pointe-à-la-Croix is 2.75 hours, and from Mont-Joli is 25 minutes. Route follows the south side of the Gaspé Peninsula, travels near the provincial border with New Brunswick, and travels inland to and from the St. Lawrence River.
- Maritime Bus operates buses in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Maritime Bus and Orléans Express operate from the following locations:
- Pointe-à-la-Croix, QC / Campbellton, NB (2 km taxi ride between these communities)
- Routes operating to Rimouski
- Relais Nordik, 17, avenue Lebrun, ☏ , toll-free: . M/V Bella Desgagnés operates seasonally (early April to early October), carrying passengers and cargo to several otherwise inaccessible communities that depend on this vessel for supplies. The boat travels between Rimouski and Blanc-Sablon including stops in Sept-Îles, Port-Menier (on Anticosti), Havre-Saint-Pierre, Kegaska, La Romaine, Harrington Harbour, Tête-à-la-Baleine, La Tabatière, and Saint-Augustin. Scheduled travel time to Rimouski from Sept-Îles is 11 hours, from Port-Menier is 20.5 hours, and from Havre-Saint-Pierre is 1 day 3.5 hours, and from Blanc-Sablon is 3 days 45 minutes. One round trip occurs per week. Due varying sailing conditions, the operator recommends booking onward connections 36 to 48 hours after the scheduled arrival time of the boat.
- Traverse Rimouski-Forestville, ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates a seasonal vehicle and passenger ferry from May to September across the St. Lawrence River between Rimouski and Forestville (60 minutes). The ferry vessel, named the CNM Évolution, is a high speed catamaran and is the fastest vessel operating as a ferry in Quebec. When operating, the ferry operates two round trips daily. Service was suspended in 2020 due to Covid-19, but is planned to resume in June 2022.
- For other ferries crossing the St. Lawrence River, see Matane (year round service), Rivière-du-Loup (seasonal service), and Trois-Pistoles (seasonal service), which like Rimouski, are also located on the south side of the river.
Downtown Rimouski is rather small and walkable. However, you will need a car to get into or out of this area. Parking is easily found in this city.
- Taxi, ☏ . There is one taxi company in Rimouski; they are very clean and easy to call.
- Société des transports de Rimouski., ☏ . Public transit in Rimouski is minimal and serves only the central portion of the city. Taxi-Bus is a taxi that picks up and stops at designated stops (like a city bus) but must be reserves an hour in advance with a membership card. CitéBus is the public bus system of the city.
- 1 Site historique maritime, 1000 Rue du Phare. At Point-au-Père, a small town near Rimouski which marks the official dividing point between the St. Lawrence River and the open Gulf. The lighthouse is the second-tallest in Canada; the buildings which once housed lighthouse keepers may be visited. There is a marine museum with extensive coverage of the "Empress of Ireland" ocean liner collision and sinking; a "Hangar 14" historic museum recounts life in 1914. The HMCS Onondaga, a submarine in Canadian military service from 1967-2000, can be visited; an overnight stay on the ship is available by advance reservation.
- 2 Canyon de la Porte de l'Enfer, 1280 Chemin Duchénier, Saint-Narcisse-de-Rimouski, ☏ . A canyon in the mountains south of Rimouski.
- 3 (French only) Musée régional de Rimouski, 35 Rue Saint-Germain Ouest, ☏ . Regional museum in old stone church.
- 4 Maison Lamontagne, 707, boulevard du Rivage, ☏ , email@example.com. June to October. Built in 1750 per Marie-Agnès Lepage, granddaughter of René Lepage de Ste-Claire. It is one of the oldest half-timbered houses in Quebec. Adults $6.
- Île Saint-Barnabé. From the marina, take the boat ($16.50, every 30 minutes) to the island in front or Rimouski. You can walk in nature.
- 1 Rimouski Océanic, Colisée Financière Sun Life, 111 2e Rue Ouest, ☏ , toll-free: . Watch a junior league hockey game. Rimouski Océanic is a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team. 2014-15 champions. Adult $17.50, senior $14.50, student $9.50, child $6.50, standing $10.
- Salon du livre de Rimouski, Conference Center, 225 Boul. René-Lepage Est. Th-Su in early November. The yearly salon is the oldest event of the kind in the province of Quebec. It was created in 1964 by a group of women with a passion for literature, who wished to make literature more accessible to young readers. Every year, more than 125 authors from the region and its surroundings participate in the event, and over 300 Quebec Publishers distribute about 75 stands among themselves. The event attracts more than 8000 visitors per year. $4, 17 and under free.
- Festi Jazz International. Five days in late Aug/early Sep. Jazz passport $160, prices for individual shows vary.
- Other festivals include: the Grandes fêtes du St-Laurent, a familial musical event taking place the first week-end of July and the Carrousel international du film de Rimouski, an international films festival.
- 2 Parc national du Bic (Bic National Park) (access to the park is from Route 132 between Saint-Fabien and Rimouski, southwest of Rimouski), toll-free: . A 33.2 km² (8,200 acres) national park of Quebec. It is home to large populations of harbour seals and gray seals. Slightly less than half of the park is a coastal marine environment. 11 easy to difficult hikes stretching 25 km, 4 easy to intermediate biking trails covering 15 km. It is typical of the southern coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, containing several characteristics low-flow rivers, salt marshes, rocky hills with a very steep northern slope and a relatively gentle southern slope. Bike and fat-bike rental available ($14/20 per hour). Camping $30-36, RV $24, yurt $104-117, chalet $144-158.
- 3 Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR), 300 Allée des Ursulines. The university is renowned for its courses in oceanography and in marine biology.
- 4 Institut Maritime Du Québec, 53 Rue Saint Germain O, ☏ .
- 1 SmartCentres Rimouski, 415 Montée Industrielle-et-Commerciale. A shopping mall with Best Buy, supermarket, Winners, furniture store, gas station and other stores.
- 1 La Reserve Bistro, 150 Ave de la Cathedrale, ☏ . Tu-F 11:00-22:00, Sa 17:00-22:00. Local produce, fish, oysters, red meats, homemade pudding, tartars, private import wines, microbrewery beers. 2-course lunch $16-23, dinner mains $24-39.
- 2 Cantine de la gare, 2 rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste Est, ☏ . Su-Tu 08:00-01:00, W-F 08:00-04:00, Sa 08:00-04:30. 19 different poutines from $4.50 to $27. Hamburgers, hot dogs, submarines and sandwiches.
- 3 Maison du Spaghetti, 35 rue St-Germain Est, ☏ . Tu-Su 16:00-22:00. Pasta $15-23 (+$2 for gluten-free), pizzas $15-22, mains $20-25, lunch $13-17.
- 1 Gouverneur Hotel Rimouski, 155 Boulevard René Lepage E, toll-free: . Free parking and Wi-Fi. Restaurant, pool, bar/lounge, air conditioning, accessible rooms. From $105.
- 2 Hôtel Rimouski, 225 Boulevard René Lepage E, ☏ . Pool, free parking and Wi-Fi, restaurant, fitness centre, bar/lounge, spa, air conditioning, family rooms. From $129.
- 3 Motel Colonial, 438 Saint Germain Blvd, ☏ , toll-free: . Economy rooms with fridge and air conditioning. Pets welcome. From $87.
|Routes through Rimouski|
|Sainte-Foy ← Trois-Pistoles ←||W E||→ Mont-Joli → Moncton|
|Rivière-du-Loup ← Trois-Pistoles ←||W E||→ Mont-Joli → Gaspé|