A Place of Tide and Time

In remote eastern Quebec, some fight to keep their small village alive while teenagers see exile as their only option.
Available on CBC Gem

A Place of Tide and Time

documentary Channel

At the eastern edge of Quebec, where English communities scatter along the Gulf of St-Lawrence coast, two generations don’t agree on what the future should bare. Isolated and remote, with no cultural or even physical ties to the rest of Quebec, villages on Lower North Shore have been dependent on fishing for centuries. That’s until the 1992 cod moratorium, which halted cod fishing overnight, devastating their economy. The Coast, as the locals call it, has been on life support ever since and has now one of the most rapidly declining populations in Quebec.

With the collapse of the fishing industry, people have looked elsewhere in Canada for work. They are forced to leave for many months at a time, separated from their families. Many kids grow up with their parents rarely around, and with no new and reliable source of economic activity in sight, kids are left with one option: get out if you can.

Set in the village of St. Paul's River, the film follows a set of characters. Teenagers like Ethan, Brittney, Whitney and Patrick will graduate from high school and leave for the first time to pursue their education in the city, thousands of kilometres away from home. While they dream of opportunities and see exile as their only option, they know they probably won’t come back and have to leave their families behind.

Meanwhile, the older generation fights to keep a lifestyle they cherish, refusing to accept what seems to be inevitable. Will Guy be dependent on his crab fishing license for much longer? How far will Garland be able to push his tourism projects? Will Tim finally get the construction job that he was waiting for? Isolated, and with a sharp linguistic barrier separating them from the remainder of Quebec, getting what they want will mean overcoming insurmountable odds. 

The personal journeys of these people interweave throughout the film and offer a unique and nuanced glimpse into the realities shared by many remote regions across the world. It’s often said on the Coast that in this unforgiving land “Tide and time wait for no man”. As the characters sway between uncertainty and hope through the recurring cycles of the seasons, we are transported into their world and witness a deeply intimate and personal conversation between young and old that ultimately makes us reflect on our own notions of identity, opportunity and happiness.