Aqua Labadie is a scallop aquaculture operation at Salmon Bay, QC. The scallop farm is run by Philip and Clara Labadie. They welcome guests in the summer months for a boat tour and a guided tour all about growing and harvesting fresh scallops.
Salmon Bay is a former year round community which still has some summer homes and sits on a bay of the same name. Salmon Bay is about 50 km west of the Blanc Sablon ferry terminal on Highway 138. Aqua Labadie is well marked by a sign on the highway. You turn into their driveway and there is lots of room to park next to their cottage.
Aqua Labadie was one of the highlights of our trip to Southern Labrador. Clara and Philip are wonderful hosts. You need to call ahead and make a reservation. Clara puts together small groups and gives you a time to show up. They do tours in both French and English. The package we opted for included a boat tour of interesting sites nearby. At the end of the tour, Philip shows you through the scallop operation, after that you go back to the cottage for wine, appetizers and dinner.
You start out with a pontoon boat tour. You’ll want to have warm clothes. We were there in the middle of June and needed a winter coat, hat and gloves. The water temperature is in the low single digits. Philip crossed the bay and showed us the town of Salmon Bay. We continued out towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence to see Île de la Demoiselle. Legend has it that Marguerite de la Roque was marooned here in the 16th century along with her lover and a maid. Only Marguerite survived, she was rescued by Basque fishermen and returned to France.
For the last part of the boat tour, Philip transfers you to his harvesting boat. He takes you to the section of the bay where they grow the scallops. It takes about 6 years for the scallops to mature. Philip uses a winch that he built to pull up scallops that are ready to harvest.
Aqua Labadie has a large building with displays and a holding tank for harvested scallops. Philip gives a great explanation about how everything is done and answers all of your questions. The entire scallop farming process they use was developed through trial and error. This is a very unusual operation and there are no how-to guide books for growing scallops.
Once you get back to the cottage, Clara breaks open some wine and Philip shows you how to open a live scallop. We tried them raw, right out of the shell and they were amazing. Clara sets out appetizers of freshly smoked fish. For dinner, the scallops are cooked. Aqua Labadie scallops are larger and much nicer than you’ve ever had at a seafood restaurant. There is no rush to leave, after dinner we had a great visit with the other folks on our tour.