Occupying the former St. John United Church, at the intersection of Route 132 and Kempt Road in Matapedia, the Kempt Road Interpretation Centre is both a local historical museum and a boutique featuring locally produced artwork and handicrafts.
Run by the municipality of Restigouche South East, the interpretation centre chronicles the construction of the Kempt Road, which was named after Governor General Sir James Kempt, and which cut northwest across the Gaspé Peninsula until it met up with the Matapedia River near present-day Causapscal.
The road, construction of which began around 1830 and lasted two years, was the first road to link the Baie des Chaleurs and Acadia with the St. Lawrence River. Until its completion transportation, from one side of the Gaspé Peninsula to the other was only possible by boat.
The interpretation centre, which is modest in size, houses a small collection of local artifacts pertaining to the history of the area, photographs of early settlers, maps and other documents. The centre also includes the original pews, lecterns, altar, wood stove and other items from the former church.
The Kempt Road Interpretation Centre is a starting point for two walking trails. One trail, which begins about 3 km north of the centre, follows the Calder Brook for about 3/4 km up a winding forest path until it reaches the spectacular Kempt Road Falls. This is a pleasant walk with several wooden bridges and stairways. A second trail, which begins nearby on the other side of the Kempt Road, is the Birdwatcher's Trail. Involving a return walk of about 4 km, this trail leads to a scenic viewpoint and picnic tables overlooking the Kempt River.
The Kempt Road Interpretation Centre (6 Kempt Road, Restigouche Sud-Est) is open during the summer months from June to September. For more information, call (418) 788-2894.