The locality of Rivière-des-Vases

Rivière des Vazes, 1750

Localisation of the "rivière des «Vazes»" area on a Joseph Bouchette’s map, 1815.
 
Located across from Ile Verte, this place was known as “Rivière des Vazes” as early as 1750, after the name of the river that runs mostly on the south side of the crag before emptying into the St. Lawrence River. The river has a primarily clay bed and drains farmed and waste (peatbogs) lands of Cacouna and Isle-Verte, where its waters are tinted by the bits of clay it picks up and carries with it.

A natural harbour

 A view of the Des Vases river jetty from the bridge, circa 1920.
 
Being a natural harbour, the mouth of the Des Vases river was once a busy place used by local residents and islanders alike. At high tide, boats would also anchor there. Following construction of the jetty around 1849, small schooners stopped at Rivière-des-Vases to unload cargo.
 
Photo source :
Private collection of Jean-Marie Fraser
 
 

Harvesting the tidal eelgrass beds

Eelgrass beds harvesters aboard a barge pulled by an ox near the Des Vases river jetty, circa 1920.
 
Between 1890 and 1934, around 30 families would get together at the jetty to unload eelgrass from barges and onto carts and then spread it in the fields to dry.
 
Had it not been for eelgrass, the area would never have seen so much industrial activity. An aquatic plant with long, narrow leaves measuring up to two metres long, eelgrass (Zostera marina) has the distinctive quality of regaining its original shape when smoothed out, a useful quality back when the majority of the country’s inhabitants slept on mattresses consisting of fabric stuffed with straw. Eelgrass quickly became the stuffing of choice for everything and, for 40 years, jobs were aplenty. Then in 1934, the eelgrass population became depleted, the last harvest was sold, and the industry collapsed along with the regional economy.
 
Photo source :
Private collection of Jean-Marie Fraser
 
 
 



Excerpt of
Maritime Cacouna and its Old Hamlets

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