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Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Shipyard National Historic Site of Canada

305 rue de l’Église, Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, Quebec, G0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/11/19

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Other Name(s)

Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Shipyard National Historic Site of Canada
Charlevoix Maritime Museum
Le Musée maritime de Charlevoix

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1946/01/01 to 1957/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/10/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Shipyard National Historic Site of Canada overlooks the St. Lawrence River in the village of Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, Québec. Set parallel to the waters edge at the foot of a steep hill, this small shipyard is dominated by a sawmill and a workshop housing a windlass. The site, levelled and triangular, is bounded by trees and the Boudreault River as it flows into the St. Lawrence. Official recognition refers to the shipyard, the surface plant and associated buildings, and to other yard features including a breakwater, a dry dock, and the warping dock or slip.

Heritage Value

Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Shipyard was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1996 because:
- of the more than 150 shipyards which existed in Québec between the French Régime and the 1960s, it was the largest builder of “goéllettes”, wooden schooners, normally flat bottomed, that were typically used for coastal navigation on the St. Lawrence River and played a major role in the development of many communities on the St. Lawrence shore and thereby contributed to the whole economy of Québec; and
- the Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Shipyard is among the very few Québec shipyards of its period, which retains in-situ resources associated with the building of goélettes.

Established in 1946, the Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Shipyard, one of the few surviving facilities of its period, continues to retain equipment previously used in the repair and wintering activities associated with small-scale coastal shipping along the St. Lawrence River. Representative of the many shipyards that once flourished in Québec, this was the primary location for the construction of schooners. First rigged with sails and later motorized, these wooden crafts played a crucial role in the coastal navigation of the St. Lawrence River and the economic development of various communities located on its shores. With only a population of 250 people in 1931, Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, formerly known as the “Éboulement-en-bas,” was a desirable site for a shipyard due to its slight descent into the St. Lawrence and its heavily forested borders, which protected the area from strong winds.

No longer operational, the Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Shipyard once functioned year-round with the greater part of the repair and maintenance activity taking place during the winter months. The shipyard was the driving force of Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive’s economy, and as the leading producer of schooners in Québec, it contributed greatly to the economy of the province as a whole. The gradual disappearance of the schooner, competition with other means of transportation, and the prohibitive cost of building extra infrastructure to support larger steel boats resulted in the decision to close the yard in 1972. The yard and fittings have remained almost unchanged, and in 1986 the shipyard became a regional museum and interpretation centre known as the Charlevoix Maritime Museum.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1996.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- the waterfront location on 229 metres of levelled ground running parallel to the St. Lawrence river within the village of Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive;
- the setting at the foot of a steep hill overlooking the St. Lawrence River;
- the functional plan and open nature of the shipyard that can accommodate up to 30 schooners;
- the sawmill, the workshop and the integrity of the remaining operating mechanisms and equipment including the breakwater, the slip, the keel blocks, the wharf, the windlass (hoist), and the dry-dock;
- the wheeled cradle built of heavy timbers and reinforced with steel and mounted on steel wheels set on rails built on a concrete foundation, which was used to support the schooners as they were pulled clear of the water;
- the diesel powered windlass mechanism that pulled the cradle by means of metal cables, and the brakes that enabled the boat to be lowered back down the slipway to the water;
- the integrity of any surviving archaeological remains, features, and artifacts in their original placement and extent;
- its continued physical relationship with the St. André, one of the last wooden schooners built in Québec;
- the viewscapes from the shipyard, along the shoreline and across the river.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1946/01/01 to 1972/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production

Function - Category and Type



Dock or Dry Dock

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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