This narrow, rocky piece of land along the edge of the cliff is of no real value for farming, but is ideally suited for a city dweller desirous of a river view and access to the beach. In 1865, John Ross purchased it from a farmer named Chrysologue Pelletier to have an imposing summer residence built. Mr. Ross owned a prosperous Quebec lumber company, John Ross and Co. This Gothic Revival-style villa would remain in the Ross family for 37 years.
Because of the location and shape of the lot, Mr. Ross decided on a tall building with several wings. Their steeply pitched roofs were elaborately trimmed with wooden brackets and carved finials.
Photo source : Louise Létourneau Collection
St. Andrew Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.
A fervent Presbyterian, as were the Cooks, Allans, Mackays and other summer residents, John Ross commissioned André Gingras to build a church for the summer people and tourists. In 1869, this contractor from Quebec City had the lumber needed for the job shipped by schooner. Twelve years later, the church was ceded to St. Andrew's Church, of Quebec City. The decreasing numbers of English-speaking families led to its closing in 1951, and its demolition shortly thereafter.
Photo source: Photo: Yvan Roy Collection Drawing : Eugene Haberer, detail from a St. Lawrence Hall pamphlet of 1901, Musée du Château Ramezay Collection (Card #15, Illustrated Cacouna, 2001)
Forty years later, the 77-year-old villa was turned into a hotel, and cabins were built on the grounds. Ernest Larouche, and later the Letourneau family, accommodated vacationers here on their way to the Gaspé until 1970.
Photo source : Postcard, Louise Létourneau Collection
Café le Pingouin, around 1945
Café le Pingouin (Au Fleuve d’Argent) around 1945.
On the south side of the road, hotel-owner Ernest Larouche built a restaurant. In the late afternoon or early evening, travellers would stop to rent one of the fifteen hotel rooms or cabins. Once settled in, they could cross the street to the Café le Pingouin and enjoy a late lunch or a good dinner.
Photo source: Postcard, Yves Lebel Collection
Ernest Larouche Pingouin Cabins
Ernest Larouche Pingouin Cabins.
Before returning to their cottages, guests could soak up the beauty of the St. Lawrence and the mountains in the sunset’s warm glow. Inspired by this spectacular view of the “silver river,” the owner changed the name of his establishment to «Au Fleuve d’Argent».