Fishing weirs in the channel
Fishing weirs in the channel separating Île Verte from Rivière-des-Vases, around 1927.
After Europeans arrived in the region, the banks of the St. Lawrence were allocated to seigneurs (lords). When colonization began at the end of the 18th century, the people of Île Verte and Rivière-des-Vases installed their fishing weirs on the wide coastal flats every spring, paying for the right to fish by delivering one-tenth of their catch to the seigneurs. When crops failed or harvests were small, the river’s bounty helped compensate for the food scarcity. The first colonists discovered an environment abounding with all kinds of fish — herring, salmon, shad, smelt, capelin, sardine, halibut, windowpane, tommy-cod, eel and sturgeon.
After the seigniorial system was abolished in 1854, the people on both sides of the channel continued to fish and profited from the trade fishing generated. Each year, the first catches were loaded into barrels on board goélettes (cargo schooners) to be shipped to Quebec. This cash income was a much appreciated supplement to their subsistence living. In 1868, eighteen weirs were made on the foreshore on the south side of the island and twelve at Rivière-des-Vases.
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. Fonds Ministère de la Culture et des Communications E 21, S110, SS1, SSS1, PN47-37