The North Shore seen by the “geopoet” Maxime Jolivel

The North Shore seen by the «geopoet» Maxime Jolivel


In four stories recounting four seasons on the Haute-Côte-Nord, French-Canadian geographer Maxime Jolivel presents what he calls the “geopoetry” of the St. Lawrence in his first book. Wild inspiration: Côte-Nordis a bit of his road book for the 138. He deciphers the landscapes, decodes the history of the relief, observes the fauna and flora. Depicting people and the environment as both a geographer and a poet, he describes eel fishing, waterfowl hunting, tides, nights in tents. A tribute to the wild beauty of the region.

Placing himself in discovery mode, Maxime Jolivel describes the four seasons, the boreal forest, the St. Lawrence, winter nights and marine mammals with as much joy as a lake trout fishing trip with his friends on Lac des Bois. 

Côte-Nord, it is also his discovery of the Bergeronnes, the estuary, Route 389 leading to the large dams of the Manicouagan. And it's tasty from start to finish.

For years, the geographer has been taking notes in his notebooks when he travels to the four corners of Quebec. “I have always liked to write and inevitably, the North Shore was my greatest inspiration. I am very often nostalgic when I am in town. I am nostalgic for what I experienced, for example, on the North Shore, and that gives me the inspiration to write,” he said in an interview.

The dream.. . and reality

Arrived in Quebec in 2007 to pursue his doctoral studies in geography, Maxime Jolivel points out that the North Shore represents “the European dream”. 

“The great wilderness, the great North American nature, we dream of that! In France, where I come from, the landscape has not been natural for almost 10,000 years. We don't have that. You can't realize that, you can't materialize it, you can't realize it.”

He adds that people in Europe see these landscapes and shows of bushcraftingon TV without knowing the reality. “These people, I tell them: come and spend a few days in the woods, on the North Shore… You will see that nature is tough: knowing how to light a fire is not enough to overcome it. Spending a week deep in the woods, with the flies, the heat… it's pretty tough all the same!”

Connecting to reality

The geographer has learned, through his experiences and his misadventures, that nature has the last word. He also recounts in his book a short getaway at -25°C that could have gone wrong. “We have no room for error. You don't need to be far from the first roads. If something happens to us, a few kilometers away in the woods, it's immediately quite complicated to count on the others.” 

Being in the heart of nature, on the North Shore, is a learning experience for him. “It teaches us humility and not to take risks. On the one hand, you feel super fragile, and on the other hand, you feel a little bit invulnerable. We feel strong when we are in the middle of nature. We feel that we are facing the essential.”

When he returns to France, if he calculates a radius of 10 kilometers around the village of his parents, in Brittany, the writer finds that there is not a single forest. No nature. 

“Obviously we are disconnected from natural reality. But here, the time to go to the North Shore and spend a night outside, and phew… Finally, I put away my food and I washed my pans well because I don't want there is a bear that comes to annoy me tonight. It's not the same relationship to the living!”

  • Maxime Jolivel, Ph.D., is a geographer.
  • His expertise brings to light the ancient landscapes of Quebec, from the first Aboriginal incursions there is 12,000 years old, until the arrival of Europeans.
  • It will be present at the Salon du livre de Trois-Rivières and at the Salon international du livre de Québec.
  • He will have a book launch on March 17 at the Librairie Pantoute de Québec. 


< p>During my north-coastal wanderings, I got into the habit of never leaving my notebook. I transcribe the emotions that give me the vision of a cape of rock greeting the setting sun, of a peat bog trapped in a landlocked plateau, of a flock of eiders on the silent St. Lawrence. I also deposit there the daily aberrations, my social discomforts, or my sentimental setbacks. Writing is the proof of my memories, my buffer zone towards reason.”