As a child, Gaston Lapierre dreamed of owning an island, reminiscent of the legendary treasure islands like Oak Island in Nova Scotia. His dream was realized in the early 90s when he purchased Corps-Mort, a small island located about 15 kilometres off the southwest coast of Havre Aubert Island in the Magdalen Islands archipelago.
Today, his sons, Daniel Barrette-Lapierre and Jean-Philippe, have been entrusted with the future of Corps-Mort. A decade ago, on the day of their father’s funeral, they started receiving inquiries from potential buyers. But the brothers aren’t looking for just any buyer.
“It was my father’s childhood dream to own an island — a bit like a treasure island,” Daniel Barrette-Lapierre said. “When I was young, my dad often talked about Oak Island, which is the ultimate treasure island. He got a chance to live his dream.”
Corps-Mort remains uninhabited, accessible only by boat. Though it lacks vegetation, it provides sanctuary to colonies of birds and seals. Spanning about four hectares and stretching 373 metres in length, the island offers a unique kind of solitude. “There is only you, nature and the sea as far as the eye can see. We can barely see the Magdalen Islands from there,” noted Daniel, who has since moved to the Gaspé region but recalls growing up in the Magdalen Islands.
Despite its potential allure, the brothers are specific about their ideal buyer. They envision Corps-Mort remaining a haven for its avian and aquatic inhabitants and want it to be accessible to day-trippers from the main islands.
Daniel elaborated on their hopes for the island, stating, “I really don’t want some random person to do random things with this [island]. I want it to be given back to people from the Magdalen Islands and for it to become a nature reserve or a park.”
As word of the potential sale spread, Daniel reached out via Facebook, hoping to attract the attention of non-profit organizations interested in conservation. The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Conservation Society of the Magdalen Islands were both approached. The former has confirmed their ongoing discussions.
However, establishing a market value for such a unique property proves challenging. Property assessments suggest a value of only about $1,100 for Corps-Mort, but as Daniel points out, “There are no comparables. What is it worth to people on the Magdalen Islands or for a conservation group? We don’t know.”
The island’s name, which translates to ‘corpse’ in English, traces back to its historical usage as a fishing post. The Commission de toponymie du Québec suggests that Corps-Mort might be named for its shape, resembling a body on the ground, or perhaps it references boat moorings.
For now, the brothers await the right buyer, one who understands and respects their father’s dream and the natural beauty of Corps-Mort.