Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by Pamela MacNaughtan
Finding things to do in Rimouski is not tough if you’re a lover of outdoor adventures or if you’re a food-centric traveller like myself. Rimouski is one of those destinations that feels surprisingly glorious to those of us who have never been; it captures the heart, and before you’ve left Rimouski, there is a good chance you have started planning your return.
A city of around 48,000 people, Rimouski (which translates to dog’s abode in Mi’gmaq) sits in the middle estuary of the Saint-Lawrence, where the Rimouski River begins. It was colonized in 1696 by Sir René Lepage de Sainte-Claire from Ouanne, Bourgogne, France; after trading his seigneurie on Île d’Orléans with Augustin Rouer de la Cardonnière. Today, the city of Rimouski stretches east to Pointe-au-Père, south to Sainte-Blandine, and west to Le Bic.
what makes rimouski so great?
Rimouski is in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, which is rich with flora and fauna – many of which are utilized in local cuisine. Rimouski is considered the maritime capital of Quebec, and there are several marine research centers here. Its history includes visits by Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain, the building of the Onondaga submarine, and the Red Night (more info on this below).
There are hiking trails, and small mountains to climb; camping, kayaking, and whale watching. An abundance of talented artisans and producers, high-quality gin, and amazing food. Oh, and the locals are absolutely delightful.
13 things to do in rimouski
le lieu historique national du phare de pointe-au-père
The Pointe-au-Père lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in Quebec, and one of the tallest in Canada. The lighthouse stands over a part of the Saint-Lawrence River which is particularly dangerous, in fact, it was near here that the Empress of Ireland sank in 1914. Visit the lighthouse and climb to the top for a gorgeous view of the river. The lighthouse and surrounding buildings are open from mid-June to mid-October.
1034, rue du phare • 888-773-8888 • pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/qc/pointeaupere
musée empress of ireland
The RMS Empress of Ireland, an ocean liner built in Scotland in 1906 to be used by the Canadian Pacific Steamships for the North Atlantic route (Liverpool to Quebec City). On a foggy night in 1914, however, the Empress of Ireland collided with a Norweigan collier in the early morning hours, just off Pointe-au-Père. The ship sank in 14 minutes and 1012 people died. Visit this small museum to view artifacts retrieved from the wreckage, and learn about the building of the ship, the collision, survivor stories, and more. Admission to the museum is $13.50 CAD.
1034, rue du phare • 418-724-6214 • shmp.qc.ca
fishing at réserve faunique de rimouski
Réserve de Rimouski is about 20 mins south of the city, and a great place for fishing lake trout and speckled trout in the region. Go for the day or spend a night or two (there are cabins and campsites for rent). The reserve is also known for hiking, as well as black bear and moose hunting.
112, route de la réserve de rimouski • 800-665-6527 • sepaq.com
The Onondaga is an Oberon-class submarine, which was used mostly during the Cold War. The Onondaga (named after the First Nations people) was built in 1964 in England and served in the Royal Canadian Navy, then the Canadian Forces. It was used mostly for surveillance. In the early aughts, the submarine was scheduled to be scrapped, but it was bought by Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père and moved to its current location. It is now a fascinating museum and a glimpse into Canadian military history.
1000, rue du phare • 418-724-6214 • shmp.qc.ca
place may 6, 1950
On May 6, 1950, a fire ripped through Rimouski, destroying 319 homes. Also known as The Red Night, the fire started in the lumber yard of the Price Brothers and spread quickly due to strong winds. A memorial park was erected near the cathedral which was spared during the fire. Today, the park is a quiet place to relax and is also used for local events.
rue saint-germain ouest beside cathédral saint-germain
parc national du bic
This national park is comprised of mountains, capes, and bays. It’s home to rare plants, and hiking and biking trails. In summer, seals can be seen basking in the sun just off the shore, and the park’s camping sites fill up quickly. In winter, there is cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, and snow tubing. The daily access fee for the park is $9.25 CAD, and equipment rentals are available from the Rivière-du-Sud-Ouest entrance. Be sure to stop by Ferme Rioux, which is a discovery and visitor centre.
3382, route 132 ouest • 418-736-5035 • sepaq.com
jardins de métis
Jardins de Métis is located in Grand-Métis, which is about 30 minutes east of Rimouski, and definitely worth the drive. The Redford Gardens are breathtaking, and one could easily spend a day exploring the fourteen small English-style gardens, relaxing by the pond, and admiring the outdoor art. It’s a culinary destination as well, with a garden café, bistro-refreshment bar, and a restaurant at Villa Estevan Lodge. It’s open from mid-June to mid-October.
200, route 132 • grand-métis • 418-775-2222 • jardinsdemetis.com
climbing at riki bloc
Riki Bloc is a cooperative climbing centre with an indoor climbing wall, as well as a boutique. You don’t have to be a member to enjoy the climbing wall, and they offer day passes for under $20 CAD, which is fabulous. Climbing lessons are also available.
217 ave belzile • 418-721-7662 • rikibloc.com
The park is on the west side of the Rimouski River and is a popular spot with families, and outdoor lovers. In summer, run or walk on the paths, check out the sculptures by Roger Langevin and enjoy the peaceful river view. On Sundays, enjoying a picnic while listening to live music is peak summer goals. In winter, the park is used for cross-country skiing, sledding, and ice skating. It’s free and pets are allowed, as long as they are on a leash.
400, boulevard de la rivière • ville.rimouski.qc.ca
nibble on delicate desserts at pâtisseries et gourmandises d’olivier
Rimouski is home to several delicious pâtisseries, boulangeries, and restaurants, including Pâtisseries et Gourmandises d’Olivier. I’ve written a little about Olivier and his yummy creations before, but I could not help adding his pâtisserie to this list as well because, yes, you should go!
102, rue saint-germain est • 418-727-6564 • patisseriesdolivier.com
A beautiful performing arts centre near Cathédral Saint-Germain, Spect’Art is known for its robust arts program throughout the year. They have everything from comedians, and film screenings to dance and a variety of musicians. Tickets are generally under $50 CAD.
25 rue saint-germain ouest • 418-724-0800 • spectart.com
hiking the coast rails
There are a couple of coastal hiking trails to enjoy in Rimouski, one running along the shore of the Saint-Lawrence River, and the other along the Rimouski River. Both are on the west side (left) of where the Rimouski River spills into the Saint-Lawrence. The trails are low-impact.
west side of the rimouski river, where it meets the saint-lawrence
visit a spa
There are a couple of spa places in Rimouski. Talon is a small spa with a sauna, hammam, whirlpools, and massage treatments that can be reserved for 3 hours, for only $40 CAD. Noah Spa is located across from Hôtel Gouverneur Rimouski. It has watergenic spa pools, a dry sauna, and a hammam. Spend a half day for $50 to $60 CAD or a full day for $74 to $88 CAD.
talon spa • 319 rue saint-germain est • 418-724-3626 | noah spa • 115 rue des gouverneurs • 581-824-6400