The nearly 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) stretch of the St. Lawrence River is a lighthouse lover’s paradise, with more than 40 of them lining the Québec portion alone. Quixotic weather and sudden choppy waters account for the building of these historic monuments, such as the one built in 1830 at Pointe-des-Monts and the Phare de Matane, both of which are now small museums.
Centuries-old fishing villages line the mighty waterway that alternates between imposing cliffs and plateaus and broad estuaries filled with fertile islets. Humans have fished the rich river and hunted its tributary lands for some 10,000 years. Much is still not known about the two dozen St. Lawrence Iroquoian tribes that had vanished by the time Québec City founder Samuel de Champlain arrived in the early 17th century. The river was a major entry point for exploring North America, and during the Seven Years' War the British navigated to Québec City to defeat the French at the Plains of Abraham. Today, some 200 miles of the river are called the whale route, along which some 13 resident species thrive, including blue, beluga and right whales.