Canyon Sainte-Anne
Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, Quebec
July 2001

The Canyon of the Sainte-Anne Falls is located in the municipality of St.Joachim about forty kilometers east of Quebec City. It is at the crossroads of the tourist regions of the Beaupré Coast and Charlevoix. At this spot the Sainte-Anne-du-Nord River, springing from the Grands Jardins sector of the Provincial Laurentide Park, plunges into rocky gorges with vertiginous walls.

The current canyon of the Sainte-Anne River is the result of several factors which came together over a lengthy history of several million years. It all started in the Precambrian Age (900 million years) with hard rock forming the canyon's walls and bottom. (metamorphic rock called granitic gneiss is formed in the depths of the earth by cooking and high pressure then rising to the surface through movements in the earth's crust and erosion). A little later on, a second rocky mass appeared, the sedimentary rock of the Paleozoic Age formed some 450 million years ago by compression of underwater sediments.

Much later, two successive ice ages covered North America. The first occured two million years ago and the second goes back over 75 thousand years. The latter had the greater impact because the melting of its ice cap led to the formation of the current hydrographic system (St.Lawrence River, Isle of Orleans and Magdalen Islands as well as all the rivers known today). Erosion then finished the job of changing the general aspect of the region. It was thus as a result of nature's long and patient task that the Canyon of the Sainte-Anne Falls came to acquire its current beauty.

For many years residents of the region have known about the Sainte-Anne Falls. Because of its advantageous route, the Sainte-Anne.du.Nord River was widely used to float logs at the turn of the century. Around 1917 the narrow rocky gorge was dynamited so the logs could pass more easily. The idea was to create a new passage whereby there would be less logjams and so the lumber would arrive in Beaupré in better condition.

During a camping trip to the area in the summer of 1965, Jean-Marie McNicoll was directed to the Sainte-Anne River Falls by a man who had been a logger on the waterway. As there was no road to the site back then he had to make his way through the woods but was rewarded with an awesome discovery, a sight to behold.

During the same week he persuaded his brother Laurent to come see the Falls by telling him he had just found an extraordinary site. From that time onward the idea of developing the banks of the falls began to take root. Two years later they leased the immediate shores of the river from Hydro-Québec and acquired the wooded lots between Route 138 and the leased riverbanks. Slowly but surely work got underway to clear a road to the site while up near the main road the brothers made a clearing to open a first restaurant. All was in place to welcome the first visitors on July 14, 1973.

That first year (1973), tourists had access to the river through a one-and-a-half kilometer road through the woods. After parking their cars they proceeded on foot to the only lookout available at the time.

Since then, the walkways have been extended while other lookouts and three bridges were built. Today, thousands of visitors from around the world tour the Canyon of the Sainte-Anne Falls every summer.

The text materials in this page including the picture above and logo at the top of the page was lifted from the Canyon Sainte-Anne's website.