Vast and rugged, the Lower-North-Shore is among the lesser-known regions of Quebec and most pristine in Canada. Situated 1,600 kilometres North-East of Montreal, it extends over 375 kilometres along the north shore of the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence. Approximately 5,000 people make this unique landscape their home, spread out in 14 villages with populations numbering from as few as 50 to nearly 1,000 residents. Years of isolation has allowed these Innu, Francophone and Anglophone communities to develop traditions, architecture and accents that are truly their own. Lovers of culture and outdoor activities, the Lower-North-Shore will surprise you. Follow in the footsteps of the first Basque explorers to settle here in North America.
The Lower-North-Shore is dotted with thousands of islands, coves, secret passages, white-sand beaches. On the landward side, blue-green moss and lichen as far as the eye can see, and tumultuous salmon rivers wind their way through rubble fields and tundra. On the seaward side, the clear blue waters of the spectacular Gulf of Saint-Lawrence sparkle.
The Lower-North-Shore offers various environments: subarctic coastline, vast boreal forest and tundra. Its unique and fragile ecosystems attract numerous birds, sea ducks, sea lions and whales. The icebergs of Greenland, pushed south by the cold current of Labrador, can be seen offshore until the middle of summer. Clear night skies are lit up by the colourful Aurora Borealis.
A major destination for amateur ornithologists from around the world, fourteen different species of seabirds can be observed, including the Atlantic Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills. Six migratory bird sanctuaries protect the nesting sites, like that of Bradore Bay, home to over 20,000 Atlantic Puffins, the largest colony in Quebec.
CULTURE AND HISTORY
Traces of the discovery of North America can be seen on the Lower-North-Shore. An abundance of resources drew the attention of numerous people who came for the fish, whales, seal oil and furs. Due to the sparse population, several traces of the passage of Europeans have withstood the test of time and have remained on the surface. The coastline of the Lower-North-Shore was frequented by the Inuit, Innu, French, Basques and British.
The archaeological sites found on the territory are exceptional. They showcase the traces of human presence throughout the ages as far back as 9000 years ago until the period of European contact during the 16th century. The largest and most recent settlement wave came from Newfoundland in the 19th century.
The seemingly inexhaustible stock of codfish, that attracted so many of the pioneers and fishermen to the region, almost completely disappeared in the ‘90s. Trawl fishing and overfishing in the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence contributed to the depletion of this resource. Through necessity, the residents adopted other economic activities. The Lower-North-Shore is undergoing great economic and social changes.
The eventful history of the Lower-North-Shore, coupled with its remoteness, has brought about a unique local culture, which is palpable in the language, the crafts and the day-to-day living.
Approximately 5,000 people live in fourteen villages, several of which are not connected to a highway network. Still to this day, many residents practice fishing, trapping and seal hunting to earn their living. Of Innu, Inuit, Quebec, Acadian, Newfoundland, British and Jersey descent, the residents of today speak Innu, French or English, an unusual linguistic combination for the province of Quebec.
The Innu and Inuit people have invented many ingenious objects for their daily use such as the snowshoe, the kayak, the canoe, and the dogsled. Both simple and sophisticated, they are still being used today. There are two Innu communities on the Lower-North-Shore, in the village of Pakua Shipi and on the reserve of Unamen Shipu. Innu and Inuit words are similar but they represent two distinct groups. There are no modern Inuit communities in the region.