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Havre-Saint-Pierre is a featured port of call on a number of Canadian cruises thanks to its rich indigenous history and stunning natural beauty. While not brimming with tourist attractions, Havre-Saint-Pierre is Canadian port particularly in touch with its French colonial heritage and boasts a number of intriguing geological and natural attractions.
Havre-Saint-Pierre's history dates back to 1857, when a group of Acadians – descendants of the original 17th century French colonialists – settled in the area known as Eskimo point after being deported from Georgia in the USA. Staunch Catholics, they made sure the first Mass took place soon after, to coincide with the feast day of St Peter. This led to the establishment of a parish of the same name. In 1873, the place of their settlement was incorporated as a municipality and in 1924, the town became known as Havre-Saint-Pierre and enjoyed a busy trade thanks to its focal point harbour.
Cruisers arrive at the port of Havre-Saint-Pierre for the most part to see only one thing; the stunning Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. The Mingan Archipelago stretches over 60 miles and features a chain of around 40 different islands, most of which feature spectacular pillars, or monoliths, which have been eroded over time by the sea and are topped by hardy, stone-loving vegetation. The wider Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve extends its reach much further and consists of over 2,000 islands and islets. The area presents a not-to-be-missed opportunity for nature lovers, as it is home to more than 200 different species of bird, such as Atlantic Puffin and Eider Duck, as well as sandpipers, yellowlegs and further inland, Spruce Grouse. As well as birds, it's possible to see whales on your visit to the region, the most common of which is the Minke Whale, though Humpback, Fin Whale and Blue Whale have also been seen by visitors. Three different species of seal also call the archipelago home and it is possible to see inquisitive Grey, Harbour and Harp seals checking you and your cruise ship out from the safety of the waves. Though there's plenty to see from your vessel, small boat tours are a popular choice with most visitors and are a common fixture of cruise line excursions in the region.
If you do find yourself with a little time to explore Havre-Saint-Pierre itself, be sure to visit the old general store, which has been turned into a fascinating museum which tells the story of the area's past. You'll hear more about the town's first settlers on a guided tour through the building, which lasts around 40 minutes and will only set you back a couple of dollars.
In keeping with the strong maritime traditions of Havre-Saint-Pierre, the most authentic shopping experience involves a trip round one of the local fish markets and a sampling of some of the local catch. It's also possible to book this shopping experience as an excursion, so you'll have the benefit of some expert help while in-port.
Havre-Saint-Pierre is known for its excellent fishing, so seafood lovers wishing to enjoy a gourmet seafood meal in the town can expect to be served dishes containing snow crab, lobster or scallops as well as salmon and trout caught in one of the area's many lakes and rivers.
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