Cruising Gulf of St. Lawrence

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A lighthouse on little St. Paul’s Island is a stark reminder of days gone by as you sail past this infamous old shipwreck site, known as the graveyard of the gulf, on your way through the Cabot Strait and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. So huge is the gulf that half of Canada’s 10 provinces have a coastal connection to it. Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering that it’s the world’s largest estuary and fed all the way from the Great Lakes 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) away.

A mere 19,000 years ago, it was covered under a mile-thick sheet of ice. Every Canadian schoolkid knows that in 1534, Jacques Cartier was the first European known to enter the gulf waters and encounter Maritime Algonquian peoples. In short order, the French kept arriving, as did Portuguese and Basque, who established whaling operations and shipped unimaginable amounts of cod to the Old World. Today, visitors come to explore massive islands, colorful towns and national parks that straddle the surrounding mainland, as well as thousands of tiny islets around which whales now thrive.

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