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The small archipelago of Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, off the coast of the Canadian province of Quebec, is home to some 12,000 people. Nearly everyone of them is a descendant of a shipwreck survivor.

The Magdalen Islands, also known as Îles de la Madeleine, have a long history of shipwrecks. In the 18th and 19th centuries, an estimated 500 vessels fell victim to the shifting sands and shallow waters of the Magdalen Islands, in Canada’s predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec. In those days, there were no lighthouses in the area and charts were less than accurate. In the heavy winds, fog and choppy waters, navigation became a game of guessing and dexterity. Many ships along with their passengers perished in the waters. Those who survived chose to settle down and make the islands their home.

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Photo credit: Raymond Brow/Flickr

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