The Pilots

The practise of using Pilots on the St. Lawrence was started with our first colonials. It was Abraham Martin who was first to be named “Royal Pilot in this country” in 1646.

On the St. Lawrence Navigation conditions were very difficult, the need of Pilots was imperative. At the beginning of the 19th century, there was a considerable increase of these professionals who guided ship’s captains up and down the river, once the oceanic traffic and commerce intensified. Because of its location, Pointe-au- Père was considered one of the best places for Pilots to observe the river traffic, many pilots preferred it to the official Pilot post at Bic established in 1762.


In 1860, ship’s owners were ordered to recognise the right to choose their Pilots by the law which instituted the “Corporation of the St. Lawrence Pilots”. Also, “The Montreal Ocean Steamship Line” Canada’s first big shipping line had the right to reserve four pilots for their private use.


This law established an existing situation, since the Pilots for this line were already using Pointe-au-Père as their base since the erection of the first Lighthouse by this company at this location.

At the turn of the century, the Pilot’s Authority under pressure of Ship Owners who wanted better service, moved the official station to Pointe-au-Père from Bic, and in 1905 it became the first Pilot Station in the St. Lawrence Estuary.

In 1923, with the advent of the quarantine station at Grosse-Isle, the Pilot station became more important. Also, the EURÊKA relieved The JALOBERT, the pilot boat of the first pilot to sail up the St. Lawrence that had been in service since 1906, and in1924 a second pilot boat was added in service the ABRAHAM-MARTIN named after the first commercial pilot on the River.

In Spring of 1906, the Pilots were centred in Point-au-Père and the EURÊKA, a small steel boat, was used as a pilot boat.

In 1935, the CITADELLE, a 430-ton steamer, built in Lévis three years earlier, replaced the JALOBERT. In 1946 the ABRAHAM-MARTIN II was added as a second boat. The CITADELLE was the last pilot boat to work from Point-au-Père ceasing operations in the Fall of 1959. In the Spring following it was transferred to Escoumins on the north shore where the new Pilot Station had been moved due to the high flow of traffic and pressure from owners.

     Abraham-Martin II


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