A Great Place to Stop
The Relais de la Cache is a company owned by the Micmacs of Gesgapegiag. Located in the middle of the Gaspésie region, about 70 km from Gesgapegiag and in proximity to the Gaspésie National Park, the site is equipped with a gas station, a motel, a convenience store and a restaurant. The following article tells the young company’s story from its acquisition to the challenges that its owners and managers have had to overcome.
In 2016, the community bought the Le Relais de la Cache enterprise from a non-Indigenous entrepreneur who had owned it for approximately thirty years. Over the years, little in the way of investments had been made to maintain the premises and so, when they purchased it, the new owners were not sure whether they had to demolish the buildings and start over or renovate. However, one thing was certain: this site had a lot of tourism potential.
Beginning of the renovations
After seeking a professional opinion, they finally decided in 2017 to carry out major renovations. Throughout the duration of the work, the only service that was available on site was the purchase of gasoline. To promote this service, the Gesgapegiag Tourism team had also listed the Relais on the list of gasoline retailers available on snowmobile association websites.
It was not until 2018 that the first bookings were made at the motel. Once the site was upgraded, they tackled the exterior renovations of the buildings, which were given a fresh new look! These changes were necessary because they had to change the unclean and abandoned image of the facilities, which had set in prior to the purchase. Now, customers enjoy stopping by for a hot meal and they greatly appreciate the family atmosphere of the main building and the friendliness of the employees.
Activities offered over three seasons
The operations of the site take place over three seasons, the main one by far being snowmobile season (from mid-December to the beginning of April). The snowmobilers come from everywhere and approximately one hundred of them stop at the Relais de la Cache every day. Because the Relais is located in a fairly isolated area, it is the only place where snowmobilers can buy gas within a radius of several kilometers. The enterprise has therefore no competitors. The second most important season is fishing season. The Relais is located near the Cascapedia River, which is one of the best places to fish for salmon. In fact, the river’s best spots for salmon fishing are located only minutes away from the Relais. Anglers from all over the world go there to fish. They cannot get a fishing license on location, but they can however stay there, which means they don’t have to drive 70 km to go from the salmon spots to the nearest hotel. Finally, the third season is hunting season, which is almost as significant as fishing season. In the summer, the site is open, but there is not a lot of traffic.
Challenges to improve the services offered
After a full year of operations, the Relais de la Cache’s managers note that certain challenges still need to be overcome. The main challenge is that the enterprise is not connected to Hydro-Québec’s power lines. It is therefore dependent on generators that were installed before the community bought the business that need to be replaced. To remedy the situation, the Gesgapegiag Tourism team is currently working on an eco-energy project. This would make it possible to replace the existing diesel generators with solar panels and batteries, producing renewable energy that would allow the Relais to be self-sufficient.
Another challenge they face is that the Relais is not equipped with an adequate kitchen to meet the demand, especially during the winter. As a result, there are often around 30 snowmobilers sitting at tables indoors, while many others are waiting outside. The waiting time has been reduced by offering only two choices of meals rather than a full menu, but the restaurant will have to be equipped with an industrial kitchen soon in order to meet the demand more quickly.
Also, the current fuel tanks were installed in the 1970s or early 1980s and need to be replaced. In addition to being obsolete, they are too small and insufficient to meet the significant winter demand. The director of economic development, Ms. Hollie Larocque, and her team are in the process of looking for funding to change these tanks. Finally, signs must be added on the side of the road to inform passersby of the services they can find at the Relais de la Cache.
All these additions and work will help to improve the experience of the site’s visitors. They are confident that the Relais de la Cache will become a key destination in the area within a few years.
To discover other local economic development projects and initiatives, we invite you to visit our local economic development section.