Captain Joseph-Elzéar BernierThe Museum commemorates the memory of Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier, a son of L’Islet and a career seafarer. He was one of the principal architects of Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic territories at the beginning of the 20th century. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier became a ship’s apprentice at age 14 and a captain at 17. He sailed across the Atlantic Ocean 250 times before venturing into the waters of the Far North. His story is a testimony to the life of a sailor during the age of the last great sailing ships.
The captain’s expeditions are etched in the collective memory of the Côte-du-Sud. With Bernier, the Caron, Morin, Chassé, Tremblay and Lemieux families experienced what no other human had experienced during the era. They sailed thousands of ice-filled waters during an era when the race to the North Pole was comparable to the conquest of space today.
It was in this locality founded in 1677 and populated by 4,000 that Bernier learned his trade as a sailor and developed a taste for adventure. L’Islet, formerly a hub of intense maritime activity, was the birthplace of some two hundred sailors, captains, ship owners and builders! It is rightly referred to as the sailors’ homeland.
In 2016, under the terms of the Cultural Heritage Act, the Government of Quebec designated Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier a historical figure.