- Discover the region
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- What to do and see
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Overall, the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James region is composed of:
Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Governement
Tel. : 819 739-2030 / Fax : 819 739-2713
Web Site : www.villembj.ca
Acces Road 111, 109, 167, 113 and 393
Going through the 49th parallel on routes 109 and 113 from the Abitibi-Temincamingue region or coming from the Lac St-Jean area on route 167 at the 187 kilometer marker, you arrive at the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government, the largest municipality in the world ! Created on July 14th, 1971, it covers an area of 350,000 square kms where numerous towns and communities can be found. It encompasses the localities of Radisson, Valcanton, Villebois and also the hamlets of Desmaraisville and Miquelon. The James Bay & Northern Quebec Convention (JBNQA) regulates the territory of James Bay dividing the land into three categories. Category 1 lands are reserved for the natives, category 2 areas are under the jurisdiction of the regional zone council, and finally the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Governement is responsible for category 3 lands. The Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Governement strives to enliven and facilitate your trip and ensure your stay is a successful one. Rest areas, boat launches, docks, fishing, campgrounds and a Tourist Information Office at km 6 on the Route de la Baie-James are services designed for your convenience and pleasure. Take advantage of our multi-service road. The Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Governement is the ideal companion on your trip to the `True North`.
Tel. : 418 745-2511 / Fax : 418 745-3871
Web Site : www.villedechapais.com
Access Road 113
Surrounded by vast forests, the city of Chapais is brimming with energy . Chapais's story dates back to 1929, when the prospector Léo Springer discovered rich deposits of copper, silver and gold. The city was incorporated in 1955 under the Mining Act. Opemiska Copper Mines, the main employer at the time, was responsible for services and municipal organization. A mining-oriented city, Chapais diversified its economic activities with the opening of a sawmill in 1974. Barrette-Chapais Ltée is today among the most efficient forest companies in Canada. Employing over 500 people, it has enabled the city to survive the exodus of part of the population caused by the closure of the mine in 1991. Determined to ensure the development of their community, Chapaisians have maximized the use of forest biomass by opening the first cogeneration plant in Quebec. This system produces electricity from sawmill residues, an environmentally friendly alternative for energy production. In recent years, the population has become involved in the development of tourist attractions which are a springboard for economic diversification.
Tel. : 418 748-2688 / Fax : 418 748-6562
Web Site : www.ville.chibougamau.qc.ca
Access Road 167
Located in hilly terrain, on the shores of Lake Gilman, close to Lake aux Dorés and Lake Chibougamau, proudly stands the largest community in northern Quebec: Chibougamau – “Meeting Place”. Since the 17th century, this location has been visited by many traders, explorers and trappers. Father Charles Albanel travelled through it to get to Hudson Bay in 1671. Indeed, one of the many lakes that dot the region bears his name. The first official mining exploration of the territory was conducted in 1870 by James Richardson. The discovery of a quartz gold deposit in 1903 by a fur trader, Peter McKenzie, generated waves of intermittent intensive exploration. However, the exploitation of rich polymetallic deposits (gold, copper and silver) really started in 1955 with the opening of the Campbell mine. First recognized as a mining town in 1953, Chibougamau earned its status as a municipal corporation in 1954. Its economy has diversified over the years and its population has slowly taken root, developing a strong northern sense of belonging. In addition, forestry plays as important a role today as the mining industry. Chibougamau has become a service center for the surrounding Cree communities. Already known as a paradise for fishermen and snowmobilers, the city`s tourism industry is increasing constantly. Enjoy a vast variety of activities in Chibougamau: golfing, swimming, helicopter rides, paraskiing, mini-golf and more! Contact us for professional services, for documentation or for help in planning your trip to Chibougamau and its surrounding areas.
Cree Nation of Chisasibi
Tel. : 819 855-3363 / Fax : 819 855-2875
Web Site : www.chisasibi.org
Acces Route de la Baie-James, km 600
The modern community of Chisasibi , signifying “Great River” is located on the south shore of the Grande River. Our community is located where the northern forest merges with the arctic barrens and where the waters of James Bay mix with those of Hudson Bay. Given this incredible setting, is it any wonder that there are so many things for visitors to do? Outfitters can take you by freighter canoe or bush plane to great places for fishing and caribou hunting. Interested in nature and breathtaking scenery? Then travel up the coast with an experienced guide and discover the many fascinating places to explore on foot, canoe, skis, snowshoes or snowmobile. Looking for a cultural experience? How about a short trip to Fort George Island with local elders as guides? Take part in a week-long cultural festival held on the island each summer. Or spend a couple of nights in a traditional bush camp, where you can hear stories and legends from elders and learn a few survival skills. This community can supply everything you need to make your trip safe and enjoyable, including comfortable lodging, hearty meals, and expert guides. As you walk the streets and enjoy the surrounding landscape of Chisasibi, you will learn about history and traditions and about the unique plants, berries, and wildlife of this region. And perhaps, you will even hear a legend or two, inspired by this beautiful, wild landscape, and its varied animal and human inhabitants. At the end of the Route de la Baie-James, Chisasibi is one of the largest Cree coastal communities with about 4,000 residents.
Cree Nation of Eastmain
Tel. : 819 977-0211 / Fax : 819 977-0281
Web Site : www.eastmain.ca
Gravel road access by Route de la Baie-James at km 350
This community, of some 600 people, still bearing the historic name of the eastern James Bay mainland or “East Main” sits on the southern shore of the Eastmain River, not far from where the first ships of the Hudson Bay Company anchored to trade with Cree ancestors in the 1670s. Its modest size offers visitors a taste of traditional Cree life with some helpful modern conveniences. You will find everything you need here from comfortable lodging and restaurants to a fully equipped grocery and sports store. While visiting Eastmain, spend time at the cultural village where you can savour traditional dishes, learn the hunting, fishing, and cooking secrets of the elders, or marvel at the beauty and intricacy of Cree arts and crafts! You may even try your hand at making your own. In summer, walk or bike along the many local wilderness trails. In winter, wander those same trails on cross-country skis or snowshoes. If you’re looking for something a little less serene, venture out on one of the many long and winding snowmobile trails. Or, for a real adventure, travel the James Bay coast with a skilled Cree guide and experience the sometimes tranquil but often challenging conditions of this great body of water. This region is also renowned for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, which can be viewed and photographed from the islands or coastal marshes. For a truly northern wilderness experience, you can travel by bush plane to one of several locally owned outfitting camps that offer world-class fishing and it is just a short drive to some of the region’s best caribou hunting.
Tel. : 819 755-4826 / Fax : 819 755-8124
Web Site : www.lebel-sur-quevillon.com
Access 113 Road
Nestled in the southern part of the region, on the shores of beautiful Lake Quevillon, you’ll find Lebel-sur-Quevillon. The lake's name comes from Louis-Amable Quevillon, master carpenter, architect and sculptor who decorated many churches in Quebec. The first part of the city`s name comes from Jean-Baptiste Lebel, who came from Clova and opened, in 1948, the first sawmill in Rapide-des-Cedres, 10 km from the present site of the city. In busier times, the mill employed up to 1200 people. In the early 1960s, Domtar was looking for a location to build a kraft pulp and paper mill. The abundance and quality of black spruce favored the selection of this location. A city was born, providing both services and quality of life for many workers living in Lebel-sur-Quevillon. The high content of zinc, copper, silver and gold in its soil allowed Lebel-sur-Quevillon to diversify its economy, previously concentrated on forestry. For the enjoyment of residents and tourists, a vast beach of fine golden sand delights swimmers and water sports enthusiasts. Quietly enjoy paddle boats, canoes and kayaks you can rent on site and admire the magnificent sunsets on lake Quevillon. Or, go for a stroll along a trail surrounding the lake. Lebel-sur-Quevillon is a surprising place to discover for nature lovers, fishermen and hunters.
Tel. : 819 739-2541 / Fax : 819 739-4278
Web Site : www.matagami.com
Matagami is the western entrance to the Baie-James & Eeyou Istchee region. This town is situated in a vast territory and resolutely promotes outdoor activities. In a forest setting, 3.5 kilometers of hiking trails can be enjoyed right in the city, where you can climb into an observation tower, admire rapids, or marvel at the diversity of animals and vegetation. The resources are abundant, which makes Matagami an ideal place for adventure seekers. Matagami is close to nine different water plans.The number of hours of sunshine during the summer is greater than in regions farther south, thereby allowing for full enjoyment of the golf course, tennis courts, campgrounds and beaches. In winter, the snowmobile is king. We have 40 kms of local trails joining with federated circuits that are accessible throughout the long lasting winter season. The same applies to the backcountry ski trails that will satisfy the most seasoned gliders!
Hunting and fishing enthusiasts will enjoy exceptional sites where game and fish are found in abundance. The nine rivers surrounding Matagami provide sufficient space and privacy for everyone. As Matagami is situated near the hunting zones 16,17 and 22, it is important to pay attention to regulations. Each zone has its particularities, mostly concerning opening and closing dates. Big game hunters will be overjoyed as moose, black bears and even caribous are often caught. Small game seekers will not disappointed by the four different kinds of partridges or hare found in the area. Fishermen will be thrilled by their catch! The wall-eyed pike, a challenge for any fisherman, is found in lakes Matagami, Goeland and Olga. Ice fishing is a unique experience. You will forever remember the moment you finally pulled that fifteen pound pike out of the water ! Matagami is also the ideal resting place for travellers continuing farther north where caribous abound in the winter.
Cree Nation of Mistissini
Tel. : 418 923-3466 / Fax : 418 923-3115
Web Site : www.mistissini.ca
Access 167 North Road
The community of Mistissini ("Big Rock") is located on the southeastern shore of Mistissini Lake and owns its namesake to the huge rock that has long served as a landmark. This modern community of more than 3200 people still practices traditional activities. Mistassini Lake, which measures over 150 km in length and whose width can reach 35 km, is the largest natural lake in Quebec and certainly one of the most beautiful. Countless generations of Cree used it as a means of transportation to hunting, fishing and trapping campgrounds and it still teaches Cree children the ways of their ancestors. Mistissini neighbours the largest wildlife reserve in Quebec. One of the largest of the nine cree communities of James Bay, it houses many regional organization head offices, for example; the Cree School Board, the Cree Health and Social services Council and the James Bay Cree Communication Society. You are invited to share Mistissini`s cultural and natural heritage. Mistissini has everything you need: a modern inn; The Auberge Mistissini is a four stars hotel , restaurants, banks and other services. From here you can travel anywhere in the region to satisfy your interest in canoeing, photography, fishing or all three at once. Experienced guides and outfitters can take you wherever you want to go. If you want to discover this region, take advantage of charter services throughout the year and live an unforgettable camping, fishing or snowshoeing adventure.
Cree Nation of Nemaska
Tel. : 819 673-2512 / Fax : 819 673-2542
Web Site : www.nemaska.com
Gravel road Access Route du Nord, km 296
Located right in the middle of Eeyou Istchee,the community of Nemaska ('Place to Fish') is nestled on the shores of beautiful Champion Lake. Home to approximately 650 persons, it is said to be the "heart of the Cree Nation". From here you can easily travel to other communities or explore the surrounding countryside in all seasons. Of course, after a night or two in a hostel and some remarkable meals cooked by the top chefs in the region, you may be thinking that there is no reason to leave! Nemaska is the perfect place to relax and admire the natural beauty of this vast territory. When you're ready to push forward, they will provide all equipment, transportation, information and services. Experienced hunters and trappers can help you find the best places for the activity you have in mind, whether it be white water kayak or a canoe trip to camp and fish in nature. You can fly to one of the beautiful lakes of the region and experience a unique adventure in the backcountry. If snowmobiling is your passion, you will be guided on the many trails that crisscross this vast territory. During the summer, canoeing expeditions are organized for the `old Nemaska summer meeting `. Nemaska is called ``Nemaskauu Eenouch`` by the Crees, designating it as the smallest cree community of James Bay. Its population dispersed into the surrounding villages when, in 1970, the last trading post was closed by the Hudson Bay Company. Seven years later, the previous residents of Nemaska came back and established a modern village. Nemaska is now an important adminitrative center and houses the offices of the Grand Council of the Cree and of the Regional Cree Administration.
Cree Nation of Ouje-Bougoumou
Tel. : 418 745-3911 / Fax : 418 745-3426
Web Site : www.ouje.ca
Access by 113 Road
This is a recent community of 750 people who nevertheless have a long history. The construction of the village was completed in 1994. Because of mining activities, its residents were forced to move seven times over a fifty year period. Ouje-Bougoumou , located on Opemiska Lake, means "the place where people gather." In 1995, along with 50 other communities worldwide, Ouje-Bougoumou was rewarded for community planning , its vision reflecting United Nations values and objectives. The price was awarded to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Ouje-Bougoumou was designed and constructed according to the Cree way to life, in harmony with the environment and Cree culture. This philosophy is reflected both in the innovative architecture by the famous Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal and in the sustainable exploitation of resources (a central heating system fueled by wood residues from the local sawmill). A new endeavour, the Cultural Institute Aanischaaukamikw offer courses on Cree culture and language. This institute houses objects from the Cree cultural and archeological heritage and host different cultural activities. Ouje-Bougoumou has something to offer for whichever vacation you desire ! Those attracted by history and culture will stay in the cultural village, enjoy a traditional feast and learn the secrets of our crafts, perhaps even making their own moccasins or snowshoes. If adventure is calling you, Ouje-Bougoumou has snowmobile trails and motocross tracks to put your nerves to the test. Photographers and nature lovers will enjoy the most beautiful nordic scenery. The region`s lakes and rivers offer the opportunity to practice catch and release fishing. Hiking is a great way to discover the history of Ouje-Bougoumou and its people. Ouje-Bougoumou`s cultural activities and tourist attractions are unparalleled. The community is planning the construction of a new building, an ecological resort, which will introduce visitors to new ways of appreciating the territoty.
Tel. : 819 638-7777
Access at km 617 of the Route de la Baie-James
The locality of Radisson is perched on a hill, like an oasis in the heart of the taiga, at the very end of the Route de la Baie-James. Founded in 1974 to accommodate workers who came to realize the « project of the century », Radisson is one of the only non-native communities in Quebec north of the 53rd parallel. Over the years, the population of Radisson has fluctuated according to the needs of the main construction sites. Later on, lovers of the North took root, thereby ensuring the sustainability of this young locality. Located in the heart of the La Grande hydro-electric complex, Radisson offers all the services and warmly welcomes tourists, fishermen, hunters and lovers of wilderness.
Tel. : 819 941-2034 / Fax : 819-941-2183
Web Site : www.tourismeturgeon.com
Via routes 111, 393 et N-810 (Route des Conquérants)
Cultural tourist attractions
Turgeon River’s Valley is proud to have 5 covered bridges over its territory. These bridges are the architectural style known as « Town Québécois », because it is a style of bridge that is found exclusively in Quebec. Interpretative signs installed at each bridge will tell you more. The Turgeon Valley has two patrimonial churches. The one in Beaucanton, a church made from field stones, in the « Dom Bellot » architectural style, was built between 1940 and 1948. The one in Villebois, Saint-Camille Church, was built in 1949 . You will also find a chapel dedicated to St-Benoit-Labre, unique in Quebec. In Villebois, you will find a replica of the barge "The Rosanna" which was used by early settlers to navigate the river Turgeon. There is also « La Porte de la Baie-James », a monument which commemorates the first winter road going to James Bay, built in 1967 under the direction of the « Ordre des Conquérants ». Today, the N-810 north of the village covers part of this historic route.
Cree Nation of Waskaganish
Tel. : 819 895-8650 / Fax : 819 895-8901
Web site: www.waskaganish.ca
Gravel Road, Access by Route de la Baie-James at km 237
No need to travel far to discover the past in Waswaganish. A short walk to the majestic Rupert River takes you to the original fur trading post. The community was established some 330 years ago, first bearing the name of `Fort Charles`. It was later renamed `Rupert`s house`. Waskaganish is now home to 2150 persons and got its modern name ("little house" in Cree) from the description given by Cree ancestors of the trading posts buildings. Local historians at the Waskaganish Cultural Institute are documenting the past and throughout the community, you will discover the living history that is contemporary Cree culture. Waskaganish will delight adventure seekers as well culture minded visitors. The community is situated at the south-eastern extremity of James Bay, along the south bank of the Rupert river, at the junction of the Nottaway, Broadback, Rupert and Pontax rivers. If you are adventurous, you can go along the coast and to the islands by freighter canoe. Although, it is recommended to accompany an experienced guide who is familiar with the channels, shoals, tides and weather of the bay. Enthusiasts of nature and photography will find an abundance of subjects as this is one of North America’s premier area for migratory birds. In fact, the 1995 inventory showed the greatest number of species ever seen in northern Canada. The area is also renowned for its inland waterways. The Rupert River was a traditional "highway" to the inland. Every summer, a « canoe brigade » led by local elders takes Cree youths up the river for 28 days, teaching them about the secrets of nature and ancestral practices. The river is also the site of an important annual event, where families gather at the Smoky Hill rapids on the Rupert river, to fish for sea going whitefish annual spawning.
Cree Nation of Waswanipi
Tel. : 819 753-2587 / Fax : 819 753-2555
Web site : www.waswanipi.com
Acces 113 Road
As the southernmost Cree community, Waswanipi is the gateway to Eeyou Istchee territory. Waswanipi means “Light on the Water” in Cree. The name describes a time when Crees used the light of torches fuelled by pine tar, to catch fish that had gathered to spawn in the cold, dark waters. Today, this modern community offers a variety of interesting cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including a pow-wow in mid-June `Waswanipi Day `and an annual gathering at the Old Waswanipi Post in July. Waswanipi offers a variety of services and attractions for tourists. Outfitters offer premier fishing and other outdoor adventures for all seasons. There are locally owned businesses to provide you with meals, groceries, supplies and equipment. Waswanipi offers hiking and cross-country ski trails, rustic camping spots, numerous lakes and several challenging rivers for canoeing and kayaking. Residents still practice traditional activities; like hunting, trapping, fishing and crafts. Decorated shoes, mitts and snow shoes are fabricated for the delight of collecters and souvenir seekers. Waswanipi welcomes visitors ready to explore new cultures, new places and to experience a different way of life.
Cree Nation of Wemindji
Tel. : 819 978-0264 / Fax : 819 978-0258
Web Site : www.wemindji.ca
Gravel road, acces Route de la Baie-James at km 518
In an astounding natural setting, Wemindji takes its name from the Cree word meaning "painted hills" or "ocher mountains’’, providing the colorful backdrop of this community. Half a century has passed since Wemindji moved from its ancestral home on the Island of Old Factory Bay in 1959, to its actual location. It has now become a dynamic community of 1 200 people. Although traditions strongly remain, Wemindji is at the forefront of economic progress in the region and is proud of its achievements, among others, a small dam on the river Maquatua that meets local energy needs, also selling surplus electricity to Hydro-Quebec and the creation of the main Internet provider for the region, CreeNet. Visitors will find that Wemindji is a destination for all seasons. From the rugged islands and coast of James Bay to the impressive lakes and rivers, the scenery is unsurpassed. Interested in Wildlife ? Discover the amazing spring and fall migrations of waterfowl on James Bay , beluga whales, seals, caribou and even polar bears, a powerful sight to behold ! Surrounding lakes and rivers are full of species worthy of trophies, including northern pike, yellow walleye and lake trout. Canoeing and kayaking? Winter travel and camping? Wemindji offers it all. If culture and history interest you, there are feasts, an annual music festival and a week of traditional activities at the former site of the community at Old Factory river. After a active day, visitors may enjoy a leisurely walk to the top of the hills where the sun sets with an ocher hue.
Cree Nation of Whapmagoostui
Tel. : 819 929-3384 / Fax : 819 929-3203
Web site: www.whapmagoostuifn.ca
Only by plane
A trip to Whapmagoostui, which means "place of white whales" is a true northern adventure. Whapmagoostui is the only Cree community located on Hudson Bay and the northernmost. It is located at the mouth of the Great Whale River (`Grande Riviere de la Baleine `) and is not accessible by car. Situated at the beginning of the Arctic, its landscape and wildlife are unique in the Eeyou Istchee region. With beaches and islands swept by the winds, scattered stands of spruce and vast stretches of tundra, lakes and rivers of unspeakable beauty, visitors are sure to find something very special there. Whapmagoostui is home to about 500 Crees. This bicultural community neighbours Kuujjuarapik, a Inuit village of approximately 525 inhabitants. Till the 1950s, Whapmagoostui was mostly used as a summer meeting place for the community. During the winter, the surrounding population lived in small inland camps. Since 1955, residents are permanently established in the village but still leave to go goose and caribou hunting each spring. Visitors may enjoy a trip to the Manitounuk islands, home to many species of nesting birds as well as a variety of wildlife. Sea lovers will enjoy the coast and islands of Hudson Bay, where they may be lucky enough to observe whales, or bearded seals and ringed seals. The lakes and rivers are spectacular and feature world-class rapids for the white-water lovers. Many hiking trails await hikers in the summer, as well as skiers and snowmobilers during the long snowy winters. Visitors will find hotels, restaurants and grocery stores supplying camping equipment. The Great Whale River (`Grande Riviere de la Baleine `) ends close to Whapmagoostui, reducing its flow by 45 meters along its last 30 kilometers before discharging itself into Hudson Bay. The river`s mouth is an appreciated playground for white-water lovers as well as for belugas. Whapmagoostui can also boast about its golf course, the only one in all the Cree communities.