Magdalen Islands visitors seek out site of Jean Lapierre's plane crash

Sylvain Arseneau worries that peace will never fully return to his Havre-aux-Maisons home.

He lives just metres away from the site where an airplane crashed last year, killing seven people, including Quebec celebrity political analyst Jean Lapierre.

Long after emergency responders and media crews left and specialists had cleaned up any trace of the accident, waves of onlookers continue to pass by his property on the Magdalen Islands, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence north of Prince Edward Island.

About a dozen cars drove past each day during the summer months, its occupants wanting to get a peek at the crash site, Arseneau said.

It bothers him.

He calls it inappropriate, even unthinkable.

"There should be more respect, not just for the event, for the family of the deceased and for the people who live here, too," he said.

Some visitors have even climbed onto the patio of his brother's house next door and onto the deck of his brother's boat to get a better view of site.

Arseneau and his brother, Jean-Martin, have set up barriers in an attempt to discourage onlookers from trespassing on their property.

Sometimes the unwelcome visitors speed along the private road that leads to both his house and the crash site.

"It's like speeding through a cemetery. No one would think to do that, but here, it is like that," Arseneau said.

He worries that the approaching tourist season will bring a new flock of visitors with it, although he believes many of those who pass by are Magdalen Islanders themselves, coming to see the place where one of their most famous compatriots lost his life.

'Sticking a knife in the wound'

A municipal library in Havre-aux-Maisons was named after Jean Lapierre earlier this week.

One year after his death, there is still talk about whether the site of the plane crash should include some sort of plaque or commemoration to mark its significance.

Many who live nearby reject that idea. Marcel Cyr, who lives just up the road from Arseneau, often finds himself answering the questions of those passing through.

He understands that Lapierre's fame will attract the curious.  While the people do not bother him, Cyr says a plaque would cross the line.

"It will become commercial, and it will be invasive," he said.

Arseneau says the decision should be left to the Lapierre family, but he's strongly opposed to the idea.

"People are trying to turn the page," he said. "To put up a plaque to commemorate that, it's a bit like sticking a knife in the wound," he said.

'Airplane road'

The private road that leads to the Arsenau and Cyr homes is officially nameless, but since the tragedy, people from the islands have started calling it "Airplane Road." 

It's another reminder of the tragedy that Cyr said he would rather not have to put up with.

"I do not live with the dead. I live with the living," he said.