Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean has 277,786 Giants living in its region. The Giants, The Blueberries, and the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jeannois: inhabitants of the region have their fair share of nicknames.
"The Giants” refers to the vastness of our lands and our natural surroundings. Lac Saint-Jean is the largest inhabited lake in Quebec and Saguenay's fjord is one of longest in the world, two more gigantic reasons why the region is named as such!
Due to the 23 million kilos of blueberries that are harvested each summer in the area, the population is proud to be named after the tiny symbolic field berry: "The Blueberries"!
And last, but not least, the genuinely kind “Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jeannois."
From the first inhabitants until the great Saguenay flood, revisit the outstanding events that marked the history of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.
The First Nations of Pekuakami
Humans have occupied the lands of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean for almost 5000 years. This is where the history of the Pekuakamiulnuatsh begins, long before the Christian era, before the pyramids in Egypt and before Christopher Columbus arrived in America. The Pekuakamiulnuatsh, commonly known as the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, First Nations of North America or the Montagnais, incarnate the First Nation of Pekuakami (Lac Saint-Jean).
At the time, they lived mainly on hunting, fishing and from gathering wild fruits and berries. To traverse the immense lands of Nitassinan (the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region), they used the lakes and the rivers as access roads.
Learn a few words in Montagnais.
Fur trading 1535 to 1842
When Jacques Cartier first discovered the region, he tried without much avail to understand what the aboriginals were saying. When he returned to Europe, he explained to King Francis I of France that the land he discovered was governed by royals, a hierarchical society such as in Europe, and was imperative that it was conquered.
The aboriginals, clever and eager to protect their land, did everything necessary to keep the white man from entering their lands, preserving this myth of the kingdom that also protected them from the floods. It wasn't until several years, and many trades later, that Europeans finally realized that Jacques Cartier had indeed misunderstood. This term remained and is now an integral part of our history.
The Company of the Hundred-Associates
It was in 1627 that the Cardinal of Richelieu created the Company of the Cent-Associés (one hundred associates) the one hundred members were destined to populate New-France. The Company's mission was development, discovering new lands and the exploitation of New-France. The plans were made over a 15-year period: 4000 catholic French colonists would be sent to New-France. The company did not succeed in their plans and in 1645, it transferred their North American trade monopoly (except Acadia) to the Community of the Inhabitants (or Company of the Inhabitants). On February 24, 1663, the Company of the Associates dissolved because the mandate was not filled.
The Hudson's Bay Company
The “Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay” was formed by Prince Rupert (England) on May 6, 1670. Operating mainly in fur trading, they had exclusive control of all territory cradled by the rivers and the waterways that emptied into the Hudson Bay, representing approximately 4 million square kilometres. Over the years, after many treaties and surrenders, the Company redirected their mandate and supplied farmers, developers and pioneers with a multitude of products and tools that they required for work. This reorganization marked the beginning of the modern company that is commonly known today as “The Bay”
Logging and colonization 1842 to 1890
In 1842, the Hudson's Bay Company, were obligated to open its territory to logging activities to satisfy demands from England. Following this decision, William Price was sent by the London government to exploit and make use of these natural resources. The Company of the Société des 21 (21 settlers from the Charlevoix area), repurchased the logging rights from the Hudson's Bay Company.
White pines, which are larger and straighter than other trees, were exploited and sent to the shipbuilding yards to manufacture masts for boats. The forest then fed the 9 sawmills that were opened by William Price and the Société des 21. At the same time as the mills were being built, more than 5 hydroelectric dams were established on Saguenay and Lac Saint-Jean's tributary rivers.
Of these sawmills, two are famous for their historic tales of woe, being the Pulperie de Chicoutimi and Val-Jalbert. Transformed into museums and historic sites, genuine historic and tourism treasures of the region.
Industrialization and urban development 1890 to 1930
Agriculture has been one of the most successful industries in Lac Saint-Jean since the region first came to life. Sedimentary deposits left by glaciers and the Laflamme Sea on the Lac Saint-Jean lowlands has made the soil fertile and rich in nutrients. Many families used their land for growing wheat or other kinds of grain and had pigs or cattle. The Perron family from Saint-Prime decided to transform the milk from their cows. In 1895, the Fromagerie Perron opened its doors and their cheese quickly gained unexpected fame: the Queen of England often ordered her cheese from Saint-Prime. Sample some Perron cheddar cheese and visit the Musée du Cheddar (cheese museum) in Saint-Prime, a must-see tourist attraction where not only will you meet the Perron family, you'll also meet the locals who visit on a daily basis to purchase their little slice of happiness.
Specialization and economic growth 1930 to present day +photo du drapeau
When Chicoutimi celebrated its 100 year anniversary June 11, 1938, Saguenay was attributed a flag. After all, Chicoutimi is predicting a bright future, some even say that Chicoutimi will become the new Chicago of the North-East.
The colors and their placement of this flag are symbolic:
- The color green represents the boreal forest, abundant, omnipresent in our environment and purveyor of economic activities. It's located at the top to signify seniority, notoriety.
- Agriculture is found at the bottom of the flag, in golden yellow, to represent that agriculture sustains and produces life.
- The aluminum industry was already prosperous and we felt it would remain as such, this is why the color silver is found in the center. It’s also representative of the industry and businesses in general.
- Red represents the color of strength, the life force of the population who, regardless of past or future tribulations, will remain standing strong and true.
The last two colors, silver and bright red, are portrayed as a cross to remind us of our history linked with Christianity. During that time in 1938, religion was much more present and played an important role in everyday life.
This flag, initially designed for the Saguenay sector, eventually became representative for the entire region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. First to be endowed with a flag, and still today, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean is the only region in Quebec with its own effigy.
Events that marked the history of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean +photos
The great fire of 1870
For a distance of more than 160 km (99 miles) and over a surface area of 3900 km2 (nearly one million acres) Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean was in flames due to a fire that originated in Saint-Félicien. The wind, particularly strong on May 19, 1870, propagated the destructive element "faster than a horse could gallop." Following the tragedy, 555 families were without homes and lost everything (farm, animals, harvests…) and another 146 who suffered major loss. Extending between Saint-Félicien and the Baie des Ha! Ha!, these 700 families accounted for 30% of the population. In spite of this fact, “only” 5 people had lost their lives.
The landslide in Saint-Jean-de-Vianney - 1971
The night of May 4, 1971 reminds of an important lesson to ensure a city's proper urban planning. The village of Saint-Jean-de-Vianney was the location of a terrible landslide that left an immense 32-hectare crater. Rainwater infiltration and unstable ground claimed forty buildings and homes and resulted in the death of 31 people. The village was closed and the remaining citizens were relocated.
The flood of Saguenay - 1996
During a weekend in July, saturated clouds drenched the Saguenay region with rain that seemed like it would never end. Between July 19th and 21st, more than 260 mm of rain fell (1 cm of rain per 2 hours for 50 hours). This caused reservoirs and dams to overflow (of which some did not function properly from lack of maintenance) and flooded entire neighborhoods and villages. 50 municipalities were affected from Lac Kénogami to l'Anse-Saint-Jean. More than 16,000 people were evacuated, 500 homes were completely destroyed and 1200 others were seriously damaged. Two young children were found dead, trapped in their home's basement that was invaded by a mudslide.
Tourism begins in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean
In 1822, a steam boat named The Montagnais travelled along the Saguenay River to Chicoutimi. In our history's early days, Chicoutimi was a simple fur trading outpost in King's Posts. The newspaper, Le Canadien, wrote about the event in the edition published on November 6, 1822: “To a person who has only plans for pleasure, the shores of this beautiful river (Saguenay), representing nature in all its sublime and romantic beauty, offers charming scenery […].”
When you leave the park and enter our lands, you'll find that we have our own expressions unlike anywhere else!
Rumor confirmed: we are known for our unique expressions all across Québec! They add to our rich, Francophone culture. For your reading pleasure, here's a short list of five expressions that you'll often overhear when visiting Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.
- À cause : means both “why” and “because”
- Être d’adon: said to someone who's pleasant to be around
- Faire simple: when someone is goofing around or being distracting
- Là là: is an exclamation used at the end of a word or a sentence to emphasize a remark
- Plaisant: an adjective usually used for saying that something is pleasant.
Its territory of 107,000 square kilometres makes Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean the 3rd largest region in Quebec. It's divided into five regional county municipalities (RCM) with 49 charming municipalities and an Innu community.
The region's vast territory is consists of three main areas. The Saguenay Fjord begins at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and runs along to the City of Saguenay, inspires awe with its jagged terrain and natural beauty and offers visitors a host of outdoor activities. There are three national parks in this sector (Saguenay St. Lawrence Marine Park, Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay and Parc National des Monts-Valin) that focus on wildlife preservation and organizing outdoor activities.
Saguenay is located in the heart of the region, which includes the boroughs of La Baie, Chicoutimi and Jonquière for a combined population of 148,900. Festivals for all occasions, fine dining on outdoor terraces, laid-back coffee houses, authentic museums, shopping centers, in short, a city center that shows off the region's many colors.
With 42 kilometers of beautiful sandy beaches, the third and final sector is a genuine Zen oasis: Lac-Saint-Jean! This sector also has its fair share of attractions: nautical adventures, cycling along the lake's shoreline, a wildlife zoo and discoveries in agritourism. Guaranteed fun for everyone!
Nestled between the bustle of the city centers and the wilderness of the Great North, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is your destination of choice for the perfect vacation! The colossal Lac Saint-Jean and the magnificent Saguenay Fjord ensures that your stay will be one to remember. Whether you're visiting the region with family, as a couple or as a solo adventure, the possibilities are endless in both summer and winter.
Look no further for inspiration with your free copy of the regional magazine Immense!
The Land of the Blueberries is located only 210 kilometers Northeast of Québec and is easily accessible by a variety of transportation methods. You will find a map of the region inside our Official Tourism Guide. Get yours for free today.
Listed below are the main roads when travelling to the region by car:
- The QC-175 through the Réserve Faunique des Laurentides when driving from Quebec
- The QC-155 if you're driving from Trois-Rivières
- If you're driving from the Charlevoix region, take QC-138, then:
- to reach the municipalities located south of the Saguenay River (L’Anse-Saint-Jean), Route 170
- to reach the municipalities located north of the Saguenay River (Sainte-Rose-du-Nord), Route 138 You will then take the Tadoussac-Baie Saint-Catherine ferry
- Route 167 through the Réserve Faunique Ashuapmushuan if you're driving from Chibougamau
- Take the Rivière-du-Loup-Saint-Siméon ferry when driving from Bas-Saint-Laurent. Several passenger bus companies operate in the region. Visit the Intercar website for more information on the available routes. You will also find information for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean bus terminal.
Taking the train to or from the region is simple with four Via Rail Canada stations conveniently located in Lac-Bouchette, Chambord, Hébertville and Saguenay (Borough of Jonquière). VIA Rail Canada allows for transfers between Québec and even Ontario.
We have two airports that connect the region to different destinations.
- The Saguenay-Bagotville Airport connects many regular and seasonal destinations in Canada and internationally with direct flights.
- The Alma Airport offers passenger transportation services, luggage transportation, medical evacuation services and flights on board a luxurious Pilatus PC-12 with seating for up to 9 passengers.
If you're travelling from Gaspésie or Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean can be reached using the following marine ferries:
- The Tadoussac-Baie Saint-Catherine ferry when travelling from Charlevoix
- Take the Rivière-du-Loup-Saint-Siméon ferry when driving from Bas-Saint-Laurent.
You have your own pleasure craft? Begin your adventure by discovering the Saguenay Fjord and be submersed into land of incredible beauty. You'll navigate over 113 marine miles from the mouth of the fjord (in Tadoussac) until the City of Saguenay.
All cruise enthusiasts are welcomed and treated like royalty in the Kingdom of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean! The Saguenay port of call wishes a warm welcome to the thousands of annual international visitors. It’s also received the prestigious Best Port Welcome Award worldwide in 2010, 2012 and 2013 by the Cruise Insight Awards.
Accessibility for people with functional limitations
You'll find on the The Accessible Road website, information for planning your stay in the region if you're travelling alone or accompanying someone with a functional limitation. Many regional accommodations, activities and tourist attractions are easily accessible for individuals with reduced mobility.
Are you looking for information regarding activities, events, festivals, attractions or simply for directions? Find out more in any one of our 11 tourist information offices located across the region:
400, boulevard des Pères, Dolbeau-Mistassini, G8L 5K6
1 866 276-7646
1209, boulevard du Sacré-Coeur, G8K 2P8
1 877 525-9888
1811 rue Principale, Chambord, G0W 1G0
418 342-6274 (320)
377, rue Commerciale, Lac-Bouchette, G0W 1V0
150, route d'Hébertville, Hébertville, G8N 1M8
1 877 668-3611
1682, avenue du Pont Nord, Alma, G8B 5G3
1 877 668-3611
In Saguenay and Bas-Saguenay
Saguenay (Borough of Jonquière
3919, boul. Harvey, Saguenay, G7X 0L4
Saguenay (Borough of Chicoutimi)
295, rue Racine E., C.P. 8266, Saguenay, G7H 5B7 (downtown)
2555, boul. Talbot, Saguenay, G7H 5B1
Saguenay (Borough of La Baie)
900, rue Mars, Saguenay, G7B 3N7
1 800 463-6565
61A, rue Dumas, Petit-Saguenay, G0V 1N0
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean offers four Villages-Relais recognized by the Ministère des Transports du Québec as unequalled rest areas offering a host of attractions. Hébertville, L’Anse-Saint-Jean, La Doré and Saint-Fulgence offer a variety of services including outdoor and cultural attractions.
To find out if your accommodations, attractions or even the restaurant that you're planning to visit offers free Wi-Fi, visit their page by typing in the name in the search box at the top of this page.
In addition, the following locations also offer free Wi-Fi:
- The regional tourist information offices
- Most shopping centres: Place du Royaume, Place du Saguenay, Plaza Alma, Le Centre Alma, Carrefour Jeannois and Les Promenades du Boulevard
- The Saguenay cruise ship wharfs
The major cellular networks in Québec cover mostly the urban areas of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Dolbeau-Mistassini in Roberval, towards Alma, until the City of Saguenay and includes the Réserve Faunique des Laurentides (Route 175).
However, the quality of the network in some areas is reduced, such as in the region's northern areas in the Municipality of Girardville, until the logging roads and in the Réserve Faunique Ashuapmushuan. Also, it's limited at the Municipality of Métabetchouan-Lac-à-la-Croix exit until the junction with the Réserve Faunique des Laurentides (Route 175) and between the Municipality of Chambord until La Tuque (Route 155). In the municipalities located between Saint-Fulgence and Tadoussac (along Route 170 and Route 172), the network coverage can be limited.