The Musée de la Mer is a history museum located on Cape Gridley and it overlooks a place deeply connected with the Magdalen Islands heritage. This is «la Grave» on Havre-Aubert Island. This place is an historical site recognized by the Cultural Property Commission of Quebec in 1983. Today, la Grave is a tourist place, frequented especially in the summer. Up until the middle of the last century, La Grave was the busiest port in the archipelago. This is where the history of the Magdalen Islands and the museum began.
August 8th, 1969
Opening of the museum in the former parish hall in Havre-Aubert in the presence of Jean-Jacques Bertrand, a former Premier of Quebec. The museum is the work of a Magdalen Islander, father Frédéric Landry. He will be the museum director for over 30 years.
september 4th, 1970
Canadian Prime Minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau visits the archipelago. During his stay, he stops by the Musée des Îles after sampling some smoked herring and cod liver on board a trawler!
Febuary 5th - 26th, 1971
The Moon comes to the Islands! The Musée des Îles presents an exhibition featuring lunar rocks brought back to Earth in 1969 by the Apollo 11 astronauts.
It’s confirmed: the museum will be moving and will be renamed the Musée de la Mer (Museum of the Sea)! During a visit to the Islands, Quebec’s cultural affairs Minister Claire Kirkland-Casgrain announces a $200,000 grant to construct the new building.
The museum become an incorporated non-profit organization.
October 7th, 1973
The new museum opens its doors to the public on Cape Gridley, it’s actual location.
July 13th, 1974
Official inauguration of the new Musée de la Mer on Cape Gridley.
In connection with Richard Lavoie’s documentary L’Épave de la Pointe de l’Est (East Point Shipwreck), part of the hull (bottom plating and bowsprit) of the ship J.W. Margeson is brought to the museum, where it remains to this day.
December 6th, 1981
Initial collaboration between the Museum and CFIM, the community radio station. Father Frédéric Landry hosts a series of shows dealing with a variety of topics,including the Islands’ maritime history, local customs and traditions, as well as genealogy.
July 4th, 1987
The Aquarium des Îles opens. Initially sponsored by the Musée de la Mer, the Aquarium remains open to the public until 2017, presenting specimens of local fauna and flora.
A Musée de la Mer took place to Place des Îles shopping centre for the first time. To this day, space is set aside in the shopping centre so parts of the museum’s collection can be displayed there.
March 9th, 1994
To foster trans-Atlantic cultural exchanges, France’s Île Tatiou (located in the English Channel), and the Magdalen Islands make their twinning program official.
December 4th, 2011
Following major renovations and an expansion doubling the original size, the museum reopens. The building (the first in the archipelago!) is now equipped with a geothermal system, thereby reducing non-renewable energy consumption.
June 30th, 2012
The new permanent exhibition «Living the Islands» is inaugurated, featuring a more ethnological approach to the Magdalen Islands’ history.
This exhibition offers a double glance. The first – a glance on history – will roam horizontally over the Islands, from their first settlement, through their joys and hardship, to living the Islands today. The second – a glance on ethnology – will be directed vertically on the walls, where objects and pictures from the past coupled with various models and art works show how Magdalen Islanders have adapted their daily life to insularity with trade, fishing, sailing…