In April, the Îles de la Madeleine come back to life. The archipelago is once more linked to Prince Edward Island by the ferry service. The fishermen are busy putting all their energy into getting ready for the new fishing season : they are retouching the paint, launching the boats, getting the lobster traps ready, hustling around seeing to the endless small details that will ensure the success of this year's fishery. All this excitement is contagious, and the tourist industry also responds eagerly to the first stirrings of the new season.
Around the end of April, fishing gets underway: herring, crab and scallops come on the scene. With the arrival of the heavily-loaded fishing boats and the overwhelming presence of nearly 100 000 piled-up lobster traps waiting on the docks until trap-setting day, there is a great deal of feverish activity in the various fishing ports around the Islands. What a wonderful time to walk around on the docks, talk to the fishermen and get a feel for one of the oldest and most important traditions in the Îles de la Madeleine ! This is also the time when the smokehouses start preparing smoked herring, and its deliciously tantalizing fragrance wafts all around the area well into July. This is the perfect chance to visit the smoked herring economuseum (www.ilesdelamadeleine/fumoir).
Setting day for the lobster traps is always the Saturday before the closest Monday to May 6th, except when unusual conditions prevail (ice). This year, the archipelago's 130th lobster fishing season was launched in the wee small hours of May the 7th. The beginning of the lobster-fishing season is a very special time for the Madelinots. The spectacle of 325 fishermen leaving port to set out their lobster traps also signals the beginning of the spring/summer tourist season. Our Îles de la Madeleine lobster is the best anywhere ! This year, the Madelinot community is getting ready to celebrate 130 years of fishing for this esteemed crustacean.
From May 20th to June 20th, why not give in to the temptation and go for a feast of «lobster nouveau» by reserving a «Totally Lobster» package at the Club vacances Les Îles ? www.clubiles.qc.ca.
On May 27th 2005, the CTMA Vacancier will be casting off from Montreal, inaugurating its 2005 season with a new Gourmet Cruise on the St. Lawrence River, presided over by a superb guest chef invited specifically for this occasion. Visit the CTMA website at www.ctma.ca for more information about new thematic cruises. The Gourmet Cruise coincides with the opening of the local event called Saveurs des Îles (Flavours of the Islands).
From May 27th to June 19th 2005, the Îles de la Madeleine organize this annual Flavours of the Islands event in honour of the bountiful harvest of the sea. Restaurants feature delicious seafood presented in a multitude of delectable regional dishes or in exquisitely exotic creations that will delight the palate of even the most demanding gourmets. www.arrimage-im.qc.ca
The culmination of this event is the «Taste-of-the-Sea Festival» on June 19th 2005. This one is a must ! A huge tent shelters booths where products of the sea are presented for tasting and there are a number of competitions. The party atmosphere and the music are typical of the Madelinots' sense of fun and joie de vivre.
Last, but not least, from June 24th to July 3rd, the third edition of Circus Arts Week will be held under the theme «Juggling and manipulation of objects». An eye-catching event, with juggling tricks of all kinds. www.artsducirque.com
So this spring, we invite you to follow the Madelinot fishermen and «answer the call of the open sea» ! We'll be waiting for you on the Îles de la Madeleine !
And by the way… is it possible that you wanted to come to the Îles de la Madeleine this summer, but some people told you that everything was «full up» on the Islands ? Not true ! That is nothing but another urban legend !