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, ☏+1 418-723-2322, toll-free: +1-800-746-6875 (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. (updated Feb 2020)