Exploring Winter's Coldest Month in Quebec's Remote Magdalen Islands

Gallery Mode

Photographer

Alex Strohl

Camera

5D mark II w 35mm lens

Back to article
Fallback
Fallback

Exploring Winter's Coldest Month in Quebec's Remote Magdalen Islands

Photographer Alex Strohl shares a dozen stunning images from the ice covered archipelago off Canada's eastern Atlantic coast

Exploring Winter's Coldest Month in Quebec's Remote Magdalen Islands

Author

Alex Strohl

Photographer

Alex Strohl

Camera

5D mark II w 35mm lens

https://www.fieldmag.com/articles/alex-strohl-photos-magdalen-islands-quebec

Alex Strohl is a Spanish-born, French photographer living in Montana. His vibrant, thrilling photography has come to define “adventure photography” in the modern outdoor industry. Follow Alex on Instagram and via Wildist.



Over ten years ago, I decided that I pretty much knew everyone in my home country of France, and, despite being midway through my graphic design studies, that it was time for a change of scenery. I only needed to figure out where to go.

It had to be a big country with diverse weather and completely different people and the US topped that list. I started applying to universities with decent design programs until my father told me that I couldn't afford to study in the US as a foreign student. With my sights already set on North America, I started looking into Canada, as the province of Québec has an agreement with France that allowed me to attend university for a heavily discounted tuition.

A few months later, I found myself in Québec City starting my first semester at Univesité Laval—I was thrilled. Then, winter hit. Freezing doesn't even begin to describe what December felt like. But my fellow classmates taught me how to properly dress for the seemingly eternal winter and, eventually, I actually found myself craving the cold.

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-row-homes

"With a daily average of 17°F in February you would be hard-pressed to find volunteers to come vacation here."

It was around this time that I developed an interest in photography and capturing the changing seasons in the boreal forest was my favorite extracurricular activity. Every weekend, using nothing but maps, I'd hit the road in search of new features to photograph: forgotten towns, cliffs, beaches, fjords, lakes, and islands.

Although I spent three years in Québec wrapping my studies, I never got around to visiting the most fascinating chain of islands the province has to offer, the Magdalen Islands. It wasn't until 2014 when, having become a full-time photographer, I was sent on assignment from Vancouver, British Columbia to the small Atlantic archipelago—in the middle of winter. The crew was composed of fellow photographer Maurice Li and my now wife Andrea Dabene. The assignment: a story about the coldest month of the year in the remote islands for Tourism Quebec.

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-hillside-homes

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-cliff-homes

"The hour before and after sunset was like an all-you-can-shoot buffet."

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-tiny-home-2

Getting to the islands from the other side of the country is no small affair. It took three flights to get to Havre aux Maisons, our final destination. My colleagues were relieved to finally arrive, not least because it meant they wouldn't have to listen to me list all the random facts I had collected about the region any longer.

For example: The majority of visitors come in the summer to swim, see the red cliffs and eat lobster. The winter, however, isn't a very popular time. With a daily average of 17°F in February you would be hard-pressed to find volunteers to come vacation here. (During our entire stay, the temperature never got above 10°F.)

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-ships

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-yellow-house

I loved everything about this place, and it exceeded every expectation I had. The quality of the light is probably what did it the most—the hour before and after sunset was like an all-you-can-shoot buffet.

I have a vivid memory of the three of us, hunkered down in our parkas, walking the narrow band of sand that is Pointe-aux-Loups, the smallest of the islands, in the cleanest evening light, the frozen sea on both sides. Pure magic.


alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-bluffs

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-a-frame

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-field-bluff

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-tiny-home

alex-strohl-magdalen-islands-ships-2

Fallback
Related articles
What It's Really Like to Live and Work in a Converted School Buy
How One Couple and Their Two Dogs Live & Work In a Converted School Bus

How Steve Yocom & Jordan Meeks found a retired school bus for $3,000 and turned it into a mobile cabin that crisscrosses the country

Photo Essay: What It's Like to Be a USFS Wilderness Ranger Intern
Photo Essay: What It's Like to Be a USFS Wilderness Ranger Intern

A firsthand account of two rugged months spent living and working with the Forest Service in California's famed John Muir Wilderness

10 Best Point and Shoot Film Cameras for All Skill Levels
The 10 Best Point & Shoot Film Cameras for Photographers of All Skill Levels

From Contax and Yashica to Ricoh and Leica, this guide dives deep into the most important 35mm film cameras made to date

The 10 Best Film Cameras for Photographers of All Skill Levels
The 10 Best Film Cameras for Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Photographers

All you need to know about the most legendary, underrated, and rightly hyped 35mm and 120 medium format rangefinders, SLRs, and point & shoot cameras

Big Wave Surfer Kai Lenny on Risk, Fear, and Surfing 60-Foot Waves
Big Wave Surfer Kai Lenny on Risk, Fear, and Surfing 60-Foot Waves

A Q&A with the world-class surfer on his new book, "Big Wave Surfer," the best advice he's ever received and the worst wipeout he's ever taken at Jaws

Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo Camera Combines the Best of Digital & Film
Fujifilm's New Instax Mini Evo Digital-Film Hybrid Camera Is the Best of Both Worlds

The innovative compact point-and-shoot camera blends digital and film to offer old-school instant printing and Bluetooth pairing, all at once

More articles
Fallback
Fallback