A Memorable Place

Gaspe, where the sea splits the land


By Robin Farabaugh



The Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec juts into the Atlantic Ocean curled like a wave.

The end of the Gaspe, where the Appalachian mountains dive at last into the sea, is edged in cliffs, with rock formations in the water just off the coast, along with Bonaventure Island, which houses colonies of gannets, herds of seals and the ruined homes of Irish and Acadian fishermen.

The land, worked on by the sea, has left pieces of itself behind in its retreat. Off its tip is a remarkable formation, the Rocher Perce -- "pierced rock" -- standing like a ruined temple at land's end. Its long, rectangular shape lies perpendicular to the shore, and at its farthest end is a huge, round archway cut straight through by millennia of waves. A second rock stands nearby like a sentinel facing the sea.

During low tide a rocky pathway curves outward from the mainland to the nearest edge of the slab. My family and I joined a pilgrimage to the arch, wearing old sneakers and carefully stowing our cameras.

Soon, we got a look at some of the oldest rock in the world. The uplifted pebbly red conglomerate, some 310 million years old, lies above the gray shale, whose quarter-inch layers are full of waves from the shallow sea beds that formed them.

At the base of Rocher Perce, my son crouched down to touch the fossil trilobites dotting the buff Cambrian shale, evidence of life from more than 500 million years ago.

The adventure of following the path into the sea, as the water began to lap over the narrowing rock shingles, lured dozens of us. Everyone slipped at least once by the half-way point, and by the two-thirds mark our backs were pressed against the wall of the rock, and the water had risen to our ankles.

"That's enough," I said, as a man in front of us lost his footing and sat hard on the stones.


"But it's just there," my son said, and so it was, another hundred feet.

Still, few would make it, even at low tide. Once into the sea here you are out beyond the St. Lawrence -- Bonaventure Island is to one side, Europe to the other. We turned shoreward reluctantly, the tide already swimming back, the water swirling now around our feet.

Later that day, we took a tour-boat ride, and it passed close to the eye of the rock on the way to Bonaventure Island. The archway, briefly above our heads, rose like the vault of a cathedral, massive and soaring. Above us the seagulls and gannets circled, landing on the rock's grassy roof.

Robin Farabaugh lives in Catonsville.

My Best Shot

Jayni Shah, Baltimore


The enchanted Galapagos

While visiting the Galapagos Islands this summer, I learned why they are called "Las Islas Encantadas." The islands truly are enchanted with their beautiful landscapes set in the Pacific Ocean, and the species of animals that appear nowhere else in the world. I was able to get close to a giant tortoise.

Readers Recommend

Istanbul, Turkey

Jenn Carstens, Owings Mills

My European travels brought me face to face with some of the world's most acclaimed historical cathedrals. Although their extravagant beauty was impressive, I was most moved by what Turkey's mosques had to offer. Their soft curves, carpeted floors and soothing color schemes blew Europe's cathedrals out of the water, in my opinion. Pictured is Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque.



Justin Mascari, Timonium

This Katsura tree is one of the most prized trees in the collection at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. Planted between 1901 and 1910 by John Morris, it is a Pennsylvania state champion for its species. Native to Asia, it is the largest deciduous tree in Asia. It is a popular shade tree and was first introduced to Western gardens about 1865. This graceful tree is noteworthy in its size and prized for its beauty and place in history.

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