Board Canada's First Publicly Accessible Submarine

Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

Looking for more road trips from Montreal?

Bas-Saint-Laurent. This activity was part of our 3-Day Road Trip in Bas-Saint-Laurent designed for families and individuals interested in unique travel experiences.


At the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site, visitors can board Canada's first publicly accessible submarine - the Onondaga - and discover the daily lives of the 70 men who lived for months at a time in this 90-metre (300-foot) submarine.

Visitors are also given the opportunity to dive into the story of the Empress of Ireland through a four zone multisensory experience. The Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse, the second tallest lighthouse in Canada, is also located at the site and visitors can enjoy the panoramic view from the top.

The Onandaga at the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site
Who would enjoy a visit to Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site:

Visiting the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site is on our travel bucket list and we were able to board Canada's first publicly accessible submarine during our trip to Bas-Saint-Laurent.

History-enthusiasts will appreciate the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site. Being able to board a historic submarine to catch a glimpse of what it must have been like to live in one for months at a time can be an eye-opening and thrilling experience for both adults and kids alike. Admittedly, at this point in our trip, our kids were exhausted. It was the last stop of our five day road trip and our youngest of the bunch could barely keep his eyes open. He had fallen asleep in the car on our way to the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site. So, our tired kids' enthusiasms had waned considerably at this point and although they still chugged happily along investigating the various sections of the Onandaga submarine, they were less patient when it came to having to wait for the crowd infront of us to keep moving forward.

Seamus inside the Onandaga Submarine

The kids were less than enthused having to make the 128 step climb up to the Pointe-au-Père lighthouse, and then back down again. Since they had some practice climbing up and down ladders at Musée Maritime du Québec, they were not as fearful about the height involved when it came to climbing up the lighthouse. In the end, given Seamus, our youngest, looked beat by the end of our tour of the lighthouse, I decided to visit the Empress of Ireland exhibit with only Ronan while Randy took the other two to the on-site playground.

The Empress of Ireland exhibit was a moving exhibit. Because the younger two were not with us, Ronan and I were afforded enough time to visit the exhibition fully, take our time reading the stories involved with the various displays, and learn more about the tragic history of the Empress. The exhibit will appeal to those fascinated by history especially when it comes to the mysterious, the bizarre, and the morbid.

Randy and Seamus infront of the Onandaga Submarine
How to prepare for your visit to Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site:

Taking a tour around the Onondaga submarine involves climbing or lifting your legs over the doors (depends on how tall you are) leading into the submarine's different compartments. You also need to keep in mind that since it is a submarine, you will have to go through some confined spaces. If there are others exploring the submarine with you, you will have to wait until the visitors before you move forward in order to proceed. There is not enough space to overtake the crowd in certain areas of the submarine. The audio tour did tend to run longer than our younger two kids' attention spans but our 11 year old remained interested. Our younger two ended up exploring the submarine without listening to the entire audio accompaniment. Nonetheless, given the confined spaces and in consideration of other visitors, be prepared to exercise patience and prepare younger ones to do the same.

Visiting the The Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse involves climbing 128 steps to the top, and then all the way back down. Be prepared to climb stairs and ladders to visit the top of the lighthouse.

Inside the Onandaga Submarine - be prepared for some confined spaces

The Empress of Ireland exhibit though incredibly fascinating is a tad morbid. Given the history surrounding the Empress, it is of course to be expected. Though we certainly have no issues bringing our kids to educational exhibitions which may be deemed 'morbid' and in fact encourage it, I thought to issue a warning for those of you who may have younger kids and wish to prepare them for the grim subject matter beforehand. There are some photos of the diseased and their belongings displayed at the exhibit, as well as a photo of the recovered corpses taken after the tragedy. I need to emphasize that these photos were presented respectfully and tastefully but can still be quite affecting or disconcerting for some.

There is a playground for young visitors who want to get their 'willies' out beside the Empress of Ireland exhibit. Visiting the submarine and lighthouse involves being confined in some tight spaces so if your kids experience a sudden rush of energy and want to run around in the open after your visit, the playground is there for their (and your) benefit.

Kiarra inside the Onandaga Submarine infront of a survival suit

Inside the Onandaga Submarine - the captain's sleeping area

Kiarra looking through the attack periscope inside the Onandaga Submarine

Inside the Onandaga Submarine - the controls

Randy, Kiarra, and Seamus striking a pose outside of the Onandaga

Randy and Seamus outside the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse

Kiarra from the top of the Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse

Be prepared for the climb up and then down the 128-step Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse

Be prepared for the climb up and then down the 128-step Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse

A wallet that belonged to Dolly Brooks, 8 year old drowning victim of the Empress of Ireland, is displayed at the Empress of Ireland museum to honor her memory.

Randy and Seamus at the playground beside the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

March 14 to June 8 (Empress of Ireland Museum only): Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm.
June 9 to October 8 (entire site): daily, 9 am to 6 pm.


1000, rue du Phare, Rimouski (Quebec), Canada, G5M 1L8


Persons under 7 years old are free.
Daily entrance rate for an adult to see all three attractions - submarine, empress museum, lighthouse - is $25CDN, and $14.50CDN for visitors 8-17 years old.

For More Info on the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site:

Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

Disclosure: All or a portion of this event was sponsored or provided at a reduced cost in exchange for coverage on our site. All opinions expressed on our site are our own - no pretenses here!

Photo: Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site, Rimouski : Mathieu Dupuis/Le Québec maritime