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The Empress of Ireland




Built in 1906, this 168 m long ship belonged to the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company. For eight years, it transported thousands of travelers, workers and immigrants between the cities of Quebec and Liverpool, before knowing a tragic end off the shore of Pointe-au-Père on the night of the 29th of May 1914. Its terrible sinking, in 14 minutes, remains to this day the greatest maritime tragedy in Canadian history. Fifty years later, the wreck is located and protected as cultural property (since 1999).


When entering our new exhibit, you will have to go through four major zones:

Immersed at more than 45 m, the wreck of the Empress of Ireland sparked a lot of curiosity. Discover its actual state, the men and the underwater expeditions that marked its history, and the difficult diving conditions and techniques used to resurface artefacts before the definitive protection of the site in 1999.

Thousands of women and men facing tragedy: discover the testimonies of some of the passengers and their descendants on their lives after the shipwreck and their memories of the last voyage of the Empress of Ireland.

It took 14 minutes for the Empress of Ireland to disappear at the bottom of the St. Lawrence river. The ship sees the Storstad appear, the fog thickens and the ships are about to pass each other …What happened on the night of the 29th of May 1914?

The Empress of Ireland was a steamship that rapidly became popular because of its size, comfort and speed. Being able to accomodate 1 580 passengers and 420 crew members, the ship swarmed with life during its many crossings. Observe, thanks to our unique collection of objects resurfaced from the wreck, the atmosphere that reigned on board the ship.

Over 200 objects, photos, videos, archival documents and written testimonies of survivors and their descendants, will make you relive the entire history and secrets of the transantlantic liner. From the diving expeditions to the mysterious wreck to life on board the ship during its crossings, you will travel back in time in our new museum experience!

missing imageFor the young ones, follow the traces of Emmy and her « cat stories » who will tell you, in a playful way, all of the steamship’s secrets!

You want to learn more about the tragedy of the Empress of Ireland and read the testimonies of the descendants?
Consult the historical section.


Discover the ship in this astounding presentation, winner of the Société des musées du Québec’s best audiovisual show award in 2013. This 20-minute show features visual and sensory effects that will make you feel like you are actually on board the Empress of Ireland in the hours leading up to her tragic end.

Hangar 14

Visit Hangar 14 and go back in time to the beginning of the 20th century as you explore Life in Quebec in 1914. Perfect for families, the exhibit features interactive elements that invite you to touch, handle and have fun as you learn. Do you have any idea what was in a dentist’s kit in 1914? It’s terrifying!


Grand Jos Connaissant is Hangar 14’s genial resident know-it-all. He shares fascinating anecdotes about the daylife in Québec in the early 20th century. These funny family-friendly presentations are available onscreen in the Hangar 14.

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The Onondaga submarine


Come aboard the Onondaga, Canada’s first publicly accessible submarine, and learn what life was like for the 70 men aboard this 90-metre behemoth that criss-crossed the North Atlantic from 1967 to 2000.

Your self-guided audio tour inside the submarine is full of surprises. You’ll see everything from the powerful motors, the narrow beds, the control room, sonar and periscopes to the layout of living quarters, the galley, the electrical and hydraulic systems and the impressive torpedo room.

Sample of your audio tour

“Discovery Tour” This family adventure features a former submariner and his nephew on a tour of the submarine. As they journey out to sea, they meet crew members who discuss their jobs and life aboard the submarine.


New - Audio-tour in Mandarin (中文) :


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The Lighthouse Station


Constructed in 1909, the Pointe-au-Père lighthouse played a key role in the history of navigation on the St. Lawrence River. Follow your guide up the 128 steps of Canada’s second-highest lighthouse (33 m) and admire the 360° view of Pointe-au-Père, the river and the shoreline. Learn about why and how it was built and how all of the different parts work.

Come and admire this giant of the past which was entirely renovated in 2017!



The SHMP and Parks Canada invite you to explore the buildings that make up the Pointe-au-Père lighthouse station, which was operational until 1998.

In the guardian house, a photography exhibition retraces 50 years of research made by Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Service.

Visit the Fog Alarm Shed to learn about sound signals. From the cannon to the electronic fog horn, from the Scotch siren to the diaphone, you will discover some of the systems housed in the shed over time to signal the presence of ships on the river in foggy weather.

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It's happening here!

2018 Season events


Gift Shop & Services

Gift Shopenseigneboutique

La grande marée

Visit one of the few maritime-themed gift shops in the region. Located in the Onondaga flag, our gift shop proposes you numerous and exclusives items, quality crafts, in connection with our themes:

  • Educational Games
  • Toys
  • Books
  • Clothes (for child and adults)
  • Dishes
  • Souvenirs
  • Jewels

Most of these objects and accessories are made here, in Quebec! An ideal place for an uncommon present!


Discover the nearby services offered by our partners:



Take a lunch break and admire an unique view on St-Lawrence river.
Second floor of the Onondaga Pavillon

Open from : June to August 2018
Sunday to Thursday - 9am to 5pm
Friday & Saturday - 9am to 9pm


Playground and Outdoor Seating Areas

Relax a while at the picnic tables on our grounds. Kids can get some fresh air while they enjoy the playground boat and the swings!


The SHMP's two free parking lots can accommodate vehicles of all kinds. Parking is also available on the Pointe-au-Père wharf.

Bicycle path

Located right on the Route Verte, Quebec’s network of bikeways, the SHMP offers cyclists a breathtaking view of the marine estuary. What a great place for a bike ride! Bike racks are available.


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Le Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père
1000 rue du phare
Rimouski QC
Canada G5M 1L8

Phone: 418 724-6214
Fax: 418 721-0815

The Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père (formerly the Musée de la mer) is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 by a group of divers who were all passionate about the Empress of Ireland. They assembled a collection of artifacts recovered from the wreck in the hopes of sharing the story of the May 29, 1914, sinking of the transatlantic liner with as many people as possible. The tragedy claimed the lives of 1,012 people and is, in many ways, comparable to the sinking of the Titanic.

In 1982, the Musée de la mer left the exhibit space it had occupied for two summers at the Institut maritime du Québec in Rimouski, partnered with Parks Canada, and moved to the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse National Historic Site, which it began to develop. In 2000, the Musée de la mer built the Empress of Ireland Pavilion, which houses a multimedia projection room, an exhibit hall and a visitor centre.

In 2005, the organization broadened the range of experiences available to visitors by acquiring the Onondaga submarine, which was decommissioned by National Defence in 2000.

In December 2006, the Musée de la mer changed its name to reflect its growth and broaden its scope. It officially became the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père (SHMP).

After a number of setbacks, the Onondaga submarine finally came to rest alongside the Pointe-au-Père wharf. Over 92,000 people visited in 2009, the first year she was open to the public.

In 2014, the SHMP marked the hundred-year anniversary of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland. Descendants of passengers were invited to participate in the commemorative activities, and the event was a resounding success. Hangar 14 was inaugurated that same year, complementing the SHMP experience with an exhibition that takes visitors back in time to explore life in Quebec in 1914.

The SHMP is located on a spit that reaches out to the river near the former St. Lawrence pilots’ station and the wharf. These elements combine to create a distinctly maritime feel and show off a magnificent view of the marine estuary.

A major tourist attraction in the Lower St. Lawrence region, the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père attracts over 50,000 visitors every year and is proud to promote the region’s maritime history.

From the very beginning, the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père’s mission has been to share the region’s and the province’s maritime history and marine environment.

The SHMP’s primary objectives are as follows:

  • share the story of the Empress of Ireland;
  • rotect and showcase the wreck of the Empress of Ireland and its artifacts;
  • communicate the significance of the Pointe-au-Père lighthouse and piloting station in partnership with Parks Canada;
  • share the region’s maritime history;
  • protect and showcase the Onondaga submarine;
  • collaborate with other museums to promote our maritime heritage.

To carry out this mission, the organization collects objects related to its theme and conserves and displays its wonderful collection of artifacts, most of them recovered from the wreck of the Empress of Ireland. The organization also conserves other objects related to regional maritime history and the activities of the Onondaga submarine.