July 5, 2017 to April 1, 2020
133 years of history
In all weather and under difficult conditions, brave men dedicated their lives to protecting the lives of fellow sailors. Ships that sailed nowhere presents the unique lifestyle aboard these ships tasked with a very special mission: signaling the invisible presence of danger. Project manager, designer, writer, curator and maritime heritage specialist Alain Franck states, “The exhibition showcases a truly overlooked aspect of Quebec’s maritime history presented here to the general public.” It is based on extensive research documented in the publication, Les bateaux-phares du Saint-Laurent en aval de Québec, 1830-1963 by authors Jean Cloutier and Jean-Pierre Charest.
Artefacts never before presented to the general public
The exhibition focuses on the technical and architectural evolution of the lightships, yet provides a fascinating human snapshot with interesting quotes by the last witnesses to this bygone era and a unique presentation of the different stations along the river and the lightships assigned to them, from the southern channel of the St. Lawrence Estuary to the eastern tip of Ȋle d’Anticosti.
The exhibition presents some 25 artefacts originating mainly from former sailors having worked on the lightships and from the MMQ collection. Some are being presented to the public for the first time, including the logbook and navigation instruments of Captain Alfred Couillard, a native of Montmagny and the great-grandfather of the current Premier of Quebec; a ship’s wheel, one of the rare material vestiges of a lightship of this vanished epoch; photos and six models of ships crafted, for the most part, during the sailors’ spare time aboard the lightships. There is also a unique piece made especially for the exhibition by one of the last sailors to have worked aboard this type of ship.
“This presentation is the first of its kind in Quebec. Never before has any museum addressed the subject. I sincerely believe that this new exhibition dedicated to the brave crews who committed their lives to saving the lives of other sailors will be a memorable experience for visitors and an invaluable lesson in humanity for our times,” stated Museum Director Sophie Limoges.
Spotlight on our patrons
The Museum team wishes to thank all the patrons of the new exhibition sponsored by Hydro-Québec: The Corporation des pilotes du Bas Saint-Laurent, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the Maritime Employers Association, the Institut maritime du Québec, Norbert Morin, Member of the National Assembly, Côte-du-Sud, and Bernard Généreux, Member of Parliament, L’Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup.
The museum is subsidized by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec and obtains financial support from the Department of Canadian Heritage.