|St. Lawrence River in La Martre, about 86km from Grand Vallee on Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula|
Photo by Sue Frause
Not only did Oisin Millea discover a message in a bottle while walking along a beach in Ireland, his treasure resulted in an invitation to visit the Canadian province of Quebec with his family. But let's backtrack a bit.
In June of 2004, two young girls from Montreal launched a bottle out to sea with a note inside. Charlaine Dalpe and Claudia Garneau, both 12-year-olds, tossed the bottle while on holiday in Grand-Vallee, Quebec on the Gaspe Peninsula near the confluence of the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean. Inside was a message, along with an email address. Eight years later in October 2012, the bottle washed ashore on a beach in Passage East, County Waterford, Ireland. The two-liter Seven-Up bottle was discovered by ten-year-old Oisin Millea, who immediately called it his treasure.
Young Oisin, with the help of his mother and Google Translate, deciphered the message that was simply signed, Charlaine and Claudia. The email address was no longer active, but the media was quick to run with the story, and the message in a bottle mystery went 'round the world. The young women heard about it in Montreal and were astonished their bottle had made it across the Atlantic. Soon they were talking with Oisin via Skype. As a result of the find, Tourism Ireland invited the two Montreal women (now in their 20s) to visit Ireland in the summer of 2013. Not to be outdone, Tourisme Quebec invited Oisin and his family to visit La Belle Province this July.
Pointe-A-La-Renomee, a lighthouse on the Gaspe Peninsula. Photo by Sue Frause.
The 12-day all expense paid trip was provided by Tourisme Quebec and its partners for Oisin, sister Sarah, and parents Aoife and Joseph. Their adventure started July 11, 2013 when the family traveled via Air Canada from Dublin to Montreal. The family's itinerary includes visits to Montreal; Quebec City; the Irish Memorial National Historic Site on Grosse Ile; whale watching in the St. Lawrence River at Saguenay Fjord; and even sleeping in a yurt. There;s also a visit to Grand-Vallee where the bottle was launched, and of course meeting the two message in a bottle senders.
Cap Madeleine on the Gaspe Peninsula's Quebec Lighthouse Trail. Photo by Sue Frause.
What's interesting about the launch site of the bottle and where it washed ashore are the similarities between the two communities. Both Passage East in Ireland and Grande-Vallee, Quebec are seaside villages; both are fishing communities; and both have similar populations (Passage East with 806 and Grande-Vallee with 1,200).
Oisin Millea and his family will return to Ireland on July 23, 2013. You can follow their travels on Twitter @oisin_in_quebec and read a story about Oisin's discovery and adventures in Quebec in The Montreal Gazette.