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Plan your trip > Practical information Print this page
Practical Information

If you plan to visit the Lower North Shore, below is some practical information that you may find useful before visiting the area. You can use the quick links below to navigate the page.

CUSTOMS AND PASSPORTS

To enter Canada, travelers from the United States must carry a passport or proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, as well as photo identification. Non-citizen permanent residents of the United States should bring proof of residency, such as a green card.  If travelling by air, you will be required to present a passport, Air NEXUS card or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document at the customs. Visitors from other countries must bring a valid passport.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority

Visas are also required for tourists from certain countries. For more information, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada or contact the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country.

Please note that there are restrictions on what kind of food, plants, pets and firearms you may bring into Canada. To find out more, contact the Canada Border Services Agency prior to your departure.

HUNTING AND FIREARMS

Hunting is a regulated activity in Canada. Purchasing a hunting licence from an authorized distributor is required. Although it is possible to bring some rifles and shotguns into the country, certain firearms are restricted or even prohibited in Canada. Some hunting bows and knives are also prohibited. You must fill out a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration prior to your arrival and have it approved by a customs officer. For more information, consult the Canadian Firearms Centre at (800) 731-4000 or the Canada Border Service Agency.

If you participate in a guided hunting expedition in Canada, the guide will make the necessary arrangements for exporting your catch. If not, you must register your harvested wildlife with an individual, company or association authorized by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec. This involves presenting your hunting license within 48 hours of leaving the hunting zone.

CLIMATE
Cleaning up after an abundant snowfall
Cleaning up after an abundant snowfall

Due in part to the cold water of the Labrador Current, summers are cool, ranging in temperature from 13ºC to 18ºC. As late as June, it is common to see patches of snow in shaded areas. There is nearly always a breeze on the Coast and often strong winds, especially out on the water. In summer, air travel can be delayed by foggy conditions, particularly during the month of July.

Winter means abundant snowfalls and crisp temperatures. Snow starts to accumulate by mid-November and usually disappears at the end of May.  The average maximum accumulation of snow is from 50 to 99 centimetres (20 to 39 inches).

Sea ice typically freezes along the Coast at the beginning of January. Ferries stop operating during this period. The break-up of sea ice starts at the beginning of April and continues until mid-May. 

In general, travelers to the Lower North Shore should be aware that weather conditions can change rapidly and should plan for some flexibility in their schedule. Travel delays often provide opportunities for spur-of-the-moment discoveries and spontaneous encounters with friendly people.

TIME ZONES  

From April to October, the Lower North Shore follows Eastern Standard Time. But from November to March, the Lower North Shore is one hour later than Eastern Standard Time. The time zone of the neighbouring parts of Newfoundland and Labrador is one and a half hours later than Eastern Standard Time. Please look carefully at ferry schedules if crossing from Newfoundland to Quebec to know which time zone is being applied. 

Centre de Santé de la Basse Côte Nord
Centre de Santé de la Basse Côte Nord
HEALTH AND MEDICAL SERVICES

All visitors entering in Canada must cover their own medical expenses. Consequently, it is important that you obtain health insurance prior to your departure. If you need to bring you own medications, contact the Canada Border Services Agency to find out the formalities.

Pharmacies can only fill prescriptions written by a member of the Collège des médecins du Québec (Québec’s professional corporation of physicians). The Lower North Shore is serviced by a hospital in Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon with an ambulance service for patients who are accessible by road. In case of a medical emergency, small aircraft and helicopters are on call, ready for evacuation. All other villages have nursing stations in their communities or one that is easily accessible in a neighbouring village. For more details about medical services visit the Centre de santé de la Basse-Côte-Nord website.

BANKING SERVICES AND CURRENCY

There are banking services through Caisse Populaire Desjardins in Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, Tête-à-la-Baleine and La Tabatière. There are small branches in St. Paul's River, St. Augustine, Harrington Harbour, Chevery, La Romaine and Kegaska. Banks are usually open from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on standard business days. The bank machine in Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon is available 24 hours a day.

Most merchants accept major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard.  Some stores will give you cash back with debit card purchases.  Please be sure to convert currency into Canadian dollars prior to your departure. Traveler’s cheques can be cashed at most branches and some businesses. Some businesses will accept American dollars but not always at the official exchange rate.

TAXES AND TIPPING

In Quebec, two taxes are added to the selling price of most goods and services: the Québec sales tax (QST) of 7.5%, and the federal goods and services tax (GST) of 6%.

You should leave a tip on service received in restaurants and bars and from hunting and fishing guides, taxi drivers and hairdressers. The amount is not included in the bill. In restaurants, it is customary to tip between 15 and 20% of the total bill before tax.

PETS  

Your cats and dogs may be admitted to Canada depending on your country of origin. You will need to show a certificate of up-to-date vaccinations in English or French from an official government veterinarian in your home country. Animals from countries other than the United States are subject to inspection fees. Your pets must accompany you at all times. Detailed regulations are available through the Canada Food Inspection Agency.

Walking a dog on top of Brodie's Hill in St Pauls River
Walking a dog on top of Brodie's Hill in St Pauls River
ALCOHOL AND BARS

In Quebec, you are required to be at least 18 years old to enter bars, purchase or consume alcohol.  You could be asked to show photo identification. You can buy beer and wine at local grocery and convenience stores or at provincially-owned outlets known as SAQs.

DRIVER'S LICENSES AND CAR RENTALS

If you have a driver’s license in your home country, you can drive in Quebec for a maximum of six months. You only need an international driving permit if your papers are in a language other than French or English.

In Quebec, the minimum age for driving is 16. However, to rent a car, some companies require the driver to be at least 25 years old. Some companies charge higher rates for drivers under the age of 21.

ELECTRICITY

Electric current is the same throughout North America: 110 volts/60 cycles. Plugs have 2 flat parallel pins, and often have a round ground pin as well. If your electric belongings use different kinds of plugs, we suggest you bring an adaptor.

CELL PHONES AND POSTAL SERVICE

It is not likely that your cell phone will work on the Lower North Shore, but this depends on the technology used and the service offered by your provider.  You will get reception if you travel to Blanc-Sablon or east of the Quebec-Labrador border.

Most villages have a post office. If you plan on staying in the same village for several weeks, you can use the General Delivery service for your mail.

INTERNET

Communities on the Lower North Shore have dial-up internet services. Some households have satellite receivers for high speed internet. Public internet access is available at Monseigneur Scheffer School in Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, at the municipal office in St. Paul’s River, at the community centre in Tête-à-la-Baleine, and at the Visitor Information Center in Blanc-Sablon. In addition, high speed internet access is available in the Blanc-Sablon area as well as just 2 kilometres (1 mile) from Blanc-Sablon in the Labrador Straits Visitor Centre in L’Anse au Clair.

LANGUAGE

The predominant language on the Lower North Shore is English. However, in Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, local residents speak both French and English. The villages of La Romaine and Whale-Head are French-speaking.  The First Nations communities of Unamen Shipu and Pakua Shipi speak both Innu and French.

GAS STATIONS

In the eastern sector where there is a road, there are gas stations in Blanc-Sablon, Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, Brador, Saint-Paul’s River and Old Fort. Diesel is available in Blanc-Sablon, Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon and Saint-Paul’s River.

In the other communities where there are no roads, you have access to gas and diesel (for snowmobiles, etc) in Kegaska, La Romaine, Chevery, Harrington Harbour, Tête-à-la-Baleine, La Tabatière and St. Augustine.

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