With its incredible natural surroundings, its history and architectural heritage, Percé still amazes residents and visitors alike. Artists continue to be inspired by its beauty. However, Percé is much more than an important tourist destination; it is a place with an exceptional quality of life, open to the sea and to the world. Its coastline, sculpted by time, offers a thousand different views of the famous Percé Rock which has inspired many a legend. (http://www.dark-stories.com/la_legende_du_rocher_perce.htm
Percé is situated in a territory traditionally used by the Mi'kmaq nation and fished by Basque whaling ships even before the arrival of Jacques Cartier in 1534. The first colonists arrived in approximately 1672 along with the first missionaries who established a mission in order to convert the Mi'kmaq. Percé counted a permanent population of five residents and two missionaries, but during the fishing season this population exploded to over 600 fishermen, in addition to many native traders. In 1690 soldiers from two British ships seized the village, destroying all buildings and forcing the population to find refuge in the nearby forest.
After the British conquest, fishing became the backbone of the rebirth of the village when a fisheries trading post was established in 1760. Fishermen from Canada, as well as the Jersey Islands, Ireland and the United States began arriving. Many of them decided to take up residence on Bonaventure Island.
It was only at the beginning of the 1900's that Percé began to attract its first visitors, consisting mostly of rich travellers in search of exotic destinations and enchanted by the Percé Rock. This limestone stack, estimated to have been formed 375 million years ago, measures 433 m in length, 90 m in width, 88 m in height, and weighs in at 5 million tons. The Percé Rock is thought to have been connected to the mainland at the time of Cartier's arrival and presented three arches. In time, two of the arches disappeared, with the last one collapsing on June 17 1845. The Percé Rock looses many tons of rock due to erosion each year, making it dangerous to approach it during low tide. The remaining arch measures 15 m in height and is expected to collapse in 400 years.
The Percé Rock around 1760
The sparse vegetation on the summit of the Percé Rock offers refuge to a small number of marine birds such as the Northern Gannet. Bonaventure Island is home to the world's largest Northern Gannet colony. The colony consists of over 121 000 birds, recently surpassing the Archipelago of Saint-Kilda in Scotland. The population continues to grow at a rate of three percent annually, ensuring that Bonaventure will conserve its title, natural disaster notwithstanding.
Situated in the Gulf of St. Laurence 3.5 km from Percé, Bonaventure Island forms an oval of 4.16 km2. Boat tours around the island are available, once on the island, one may visit by foot on the many walking trails. The last residents left the island in the 1970's, but one may still find the remnants of the cod-fishing industry, once the base of the local economy. Lobster fishing activities have now replaced the cod- fisheries in the Bay of Percé.
An endless succession of capes, harbours and sea-cliffs surround Mont Sainte-Anne (340 m) and Mont Blanc (330 m), offering breathtaking views. The diversity of marine life in the waters surrounding Percé attracts a number of marine mammals such as seals and whales, providing many opportunities to observe these majestic creatures.
The unique architectural heritage of Percé is inspired by its history. In the center of town, the many heritage buildings have their roots in the fishing industry, as well as the many heritage homes incorporated into the local tourist attractions.
Further to the west, a group of residents formed a collective to purchase a fish transformation warehouse in order to create an auditorium, a recording studio, an art exhibit hall, with an international reputation.
The city of Percé occupies a territory of 427.94 km2 on the south-east point of the Gaspé Peninsula. After the municipal fusions of the 1970's, the city is comprised of the six rural municipalities of St-Georges-de-Malbaie, Barachois, Bridgeville, Percé, Cap d'Espoir, and Val d'Espoir. The city of Percé is one of five municipalities of the MRC (Regional County Municipality) du Rocher-Percé. As of the last federal census, the city of Percé counted a population of 3 419.
Percé is also a proud member the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Quebec, The Most Beautiful Bays in the World, the Association de villes et villages en santé, as well as Villes et villages d'art et de patrimoine.
Percé. You will fall in love with this original maritime community, its nature and its heritage.
City of Percé Coat of Arms
In 1994, the municipal council created a committee with the mandate to work with the Canadian Heraldic Authority in order to create a coat of arms for the city of Percé.
The purpose of a coat of arms is to identify the bearer. It was important to define the components and the form by choosing the symbols that best represented our community, while respecting the strict rules of heraldry. Our goal was to create a coat of arms which is unique, distinct, original, simple, artistic, and aesthetic.
It took three years of discussions to arrive at a result which fulfilled the expectations of the city as well as the requirements of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.
This long process was completed September 16 1998, when His Excellency the Right Honourable Roméo Leblanc, Governor General of Canada, presented the officially recognized coat of arms of the City of Percé.
As stated by Mr. Leblanc, the coat of arms represents the international reputation of Percé in Quebec, in Canada, and throughout the world.
The motto chosen by Percé is ‘VAILLANCE ET PERSÉVÉRANCE' (Bravery/courage and Perseverance) for the bravery, courage, and perseverance of the first explorers who discovered the region, of the first pioneers who worked the land, of the first residents who worked the sea, of the many communities, associations and businesses who worked towards the development Percé. It stands as well for the bravery and perseverance in the daily lives of our citizens, who accomplish their tasks in often difficult conditions; the courage and perseverance in the manner of the Northern Gannet who, year after year returns to its nest, tirelessly strengthening and rebuilding it.