Heading for a new life in the east
Superlatives are lacking to describe this corner of Québec. Those who have already set eyes on the Bas-Saint-Laurent or Gaspésie regions can confirm it. Between the torrents of the river and the summits of the Chic-Chocs, no one remains indifferent to the charms of life in eastern Québec.
"It's an extraordinary neck of the woods," says Claudine Roy, owner of Auberge sous les arbres in Gaspé and president of Traversées de la Gaspésie. This businesswoman and outdoor event organizer simply cannot get enough of the region of her birth.
Over the course of her sixty-six springs, she’s had the chance to travel, but each time, she returns home with the same sense of satisfaction. Back from a recent trip to Chamonix, in the Alps, the Pointe-à-la-Frégate native remains convinced that the scenery of other regions doesn’t hold a candle to the Gaspésie countryside. "In Chamonix, you have to climb the mountains to get a view!”
An unobstructed view of the "sea," the call of peaks over 1000 metres high, a rich, varied, and inspiring environment... so many reasons to encourage nature lovers to follow route 132 to explore eastern Québec.
From summer in a van to life in Métis-sur-Mer
And some people who are charmed by Gaspésie stop and settle here. This is the case of Nancy Guignard, a photographer and freelance writer. At the wheel of the Sépaqmobile in the summer of 2019, she traveled nearly 9,000 km to discover the national parks of Québec, staying in Gaspésie for the first time.
"I was blown away by the landscapes," recalls the professional content creator. After this striking encounter with the beauty of Québec’s eastern realm, the Montréal resident continued her career on the road, particularly attracted by the people and landscapes of Bas-Saint-Laurent.
During her visits, the digital nomad fell in love with the rhythm of life in Métis-sur-Mer. She has been a year-round resident for three years now. "It's a perfect location, between du Bic and de la Gaspésie parks," says Nancy, whose photos often highlight the attractions of these two national parks.
Far from the big city, she enjoys every moment of her new life… including fishing for her first salmon on Rivière Matapédia! She may sometimes miss the cultural offering of Montréal, but she doesn't feel like she’s losing out. "Living here is simply enriching in other ways," she asserts.
Enjoying her own peaceful riverfront haven, she encourages people to rethink the concept of a cabin getaway by choosing, like her, a daily life in nature, with an occasional "big city immersion."
An artistic career born in the Chic-Chocs
Before arriving in Cap-Chat in 2016, Éric Deschamps was searching for his true nature. Having migrated east with no job in sight, he soon became the reception manager at Auberge de montagne des Chic-Chocs, a position he held for four years.
At Sépaq, a new door opened for a fellow who seemed destined for a career in actuarial science. "I didn't know what I wanted to do. But I knew what I didn't want to do...," says the thirty-something-year-old, philosophically recounting his career trajectory. He flipped over the mountains and decided that nature would be at the heart of his future activities.
Growing up on Montréal’s south shore, Eric had never before set foot in a national park. "I don't even remember looking up at the sky," he admits. Now a Sépaq ambassador, he is known for his magnificent photos of animals and nature. Quite a turnaround to be sure!
This self-employed chap has made quite a name for himself with his intimate images of Gaspésie moose. Between a hike and a kayak outing, the Cap-Chat resident hones his art in the national park and nearby wildlife reserves.
In fact, he bought his first camera to share his experience in the Chic-Chocs with his family. Then, in November 2016, he experienced a magical moment that would transform his career: his first encounter with moose on Mont Ernest-Laforce.
According to the artist, the unique work environment at Auberge de montagne des Chic-Chocs allowed him to grow personally and professionally. "I saw moose almost every day," he says. Today, thanks to his years of practice and this privileged contact with nature, the photographer reaches tens of thousands of people on Facebook.
The former Sépaq employee has a single piece of advice for those who would like to follow in his footsteps in eastern Québec: "Go ahead and be daring! What’s there to stop you?"
A popular work/leisure balance
As head of Parc national de la Gaspésie, Pascal Lévesque has a front row seat for the arrival of adventurers of all kinds in eastern Québec. "We can now say, "Go east, young man!" he laughs, explaining that despite its splendour, western Canada does not offer the same access to the sea and the mountains as eastern Québec.
Each year, he is more impressed with the quality of the applications he receives. Recruitment efforts have a lot to do with it, but the desire to reconnect with nature is felt more than ever. Even before the pandemic, many people chose Gaspésie to find a healthier way of life.
Lawyers, business people, young people, retirees... the talent pool is diverse. And good news for those who would like to work in the east, many initiatives have been put in place by Sépaq to encourage them to take the plunge and return season after season.
For example, Pascal explains that the Parc de la Gaspésie team has ramped up efforts to improve the work experience of its staff. Recently, an apartment-type accommodation complex was even built behind Gîte du Mont-Albert. As elsewhere in the network, employees have a variety of housing options at their disposal.
Clearly, working in a national park offers a host of opportunities. For example, many staff members work a three or four day week in order to enjoy the unique environment around them. It's hard to beat that work/leisure balance!
Outdoor equipment is also available so staff can savour the pleasures of the great outdoors. Who wouldn't like to ski in the powder snow of the Chic-Chocs between two work shifts? The director of Parc national de la Gaspésie notes that a growing number of trail runners come to work and train in his immense playground.
Following in the footsteps of chef Ricardo Larrivée
Regardless of the recruits’ experience, jobs for all profiles are available, from Parc national de la Gaspésie to Gîte du Mont-Albert, including Auberge de montagne des Chic-Chocs and Matane, des Chic-Chocs, and Port-Daniel wildlife reserves. With the ever-increasing public interest in green spaces, the staffing needs are great and available positions are many and varied. A career at Sépaq is certainly possible!
And the organization is keen to promote the recruitment and retention of its staff. Sépaq's talent acquisition team explains that measures to support travel and sustainable mobility have been put in place. A transportation allowance is paid to workers in certain regions, while another encourages people to choose sustainable transportation to get to work.
The need for staff is particularly acute in the hotel and restaurant industry, and there are many advantages to moving to eastern Québec for this type of job. "We tend to forget that Ricardo started his career right here," points out a team member about the popular chef and host's time in the kitchen of Gîte du Mont-Albert.
The quality of the ingredients of the Gaspé region alone is enough to attract talent from the culinary world. First of all, there’s the pleasure of creating dishes with fresh seafood, and then the joy of having a great time in the kitchen and in nature as well. Finally, there’s the pride of contributing to the reputation of establishments such as Gîte du Mont-Albert or Auberge de montagne des Chic-Chocs, unique gastronomic meccas in Québec.
It’s also important to mention that Sépaq's hospitality positions are different from typical jobs in the field. Between the ready-to-camp, EXP. cabins, and mountain huts, the tasks change depending on the type of accommodation and the season. It’s nothing like regular housekeeping!
Trails open to one and all
It's true that when you can see a moose, a fox, or a bird of prey while walking between two buildings, work takes on a whole new meaning. As does taking a hike! Plus, staff can unwind at some really great resorts. A far cry from the humdrum routine of typical working life!
"A job at Sépaq? It's an incredible opportunity," says Claudine, who’s always happy to see new faces in her part of the world. She’s especially thinking of the young families who can take full advantage of Sépaq's vast green spaces.
With a positive migratory balance since 2017, a phenomenon that has accelerated since 2020, the Gaspésie and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions are developing rapidly. Claudine isn’t complaining; she rather hopes that new residents will keep on coming. "The territory is vast... There’s still plenty of room!" guarantees the Gaspésie resident with a smile.