Matane, Quebec Canada

Discover Matane, Quebec: A Blend of History and Tourism

Introduction to Matane, Quebec

Matane is a charming town located on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Canada. It sits on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River at the mouth of the Matane River. The town serves as the seat for the La Matanie Regional County Municipality. Matane's territory also encompasses the communities of Petit-Matane and Saint-Luc-de-Matane. The town offers a ferry service that crosses the river to Baie-Comeau and Godbout on the north shore, as well as a rail ferry service to Baie-Comeau and Sept-Îles.

The Etymology of Matane, Quebec

The name Matane was first assigned to the river by Samuel de Champlain in 1603, originally penned as "Mantanne". The meaning of Matane is open to interpretation, with the most common one being that it originates from the Mi'kmaq word mtctan, meaning "beaver pond". This is likely due to the region's abundant beaver population. Other interpretations suggest it could be a Maliseet word for "spinal cord", referring to the course of the Matane River, or from the word Mattawa/Matawin, meaning "meeting of the waters". It could also be an abbreviation of the word matandipives, meaning "shipwreck".

The History of Matane, Quebec

In 1603, Samuel de Champlain visited the area and found the location "pleasant enough". The first Europeans to spend the winter there were merchants known as the Rochelais from La Rochelle in 1616. Matane served as a trading post for the Rochelais, who exchanged European goods for furs with the Mi'kmaq people. In 1672, the land on both sides of the Matane River was granted as a seignory to Mathieu D'Amours, leading to the first settlements shortly after. The Mi'kmaq people lived there until 1845. Matane was first incorporated as the Municipality of Matane in 1845, dissolved two years later, and reestablished as the Parish Municipality of Saint-Jérôme-de-Matane in 1855. In 1937, it changed status and name to City of Matane. After World War II, Matane merchants decided to strengthen their economic and maritime bonds with the North side of the Saint Lawrence River, leading to the establishment of a regular ferry service in 1962 and a train ferry system in 1978. On September 26, 2001, the neighbouring municipalities of Petit-Matane, Saint-Luc-de-Matane, and Saint-Jérôme-de-Matane were amalgamated into the Town of Matane.

Tourism in Matane, Quebec

Matane is the first step to Gaspé's tourist circuit, welcoming many passing tourists. The old lighthouse of Matane has been transformed into a tourist information centre with a panoramic view of its surroundings. The Matane River, known as the "River-School" in Quebec, is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts. The river is 101 km in length and is the only place in Quebec where you can fish in the town square. Matane is home to several well-known personalities, including artist Claude Picher and NHL players such as Yves Racine. The town supports local talent with a number of art galleries. In 2000, Matane was named East Quebec's industrial capital.

Districts of Matane, Quebec

Matane is divided into four districts that match the former municipalities before amalgamation in 2001:

  • District 1 - Matane
  • District 2 - Saint-Jérome-de-Matane
  • District 3 - Petit-Matane
  • District 4 - Saint-Luc-de-Matane

Demographics of Matane, Quebec

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Matane had a population of 13,987 living in 6,996 of its 7,482 total private dwellings, a change of -2.3% from its 2016 population of 14,311. With a land area of 195.49 km2 (75.48 sq mi), it had a population density of 71.5/km2 (185.3/sq mi) in 2021. The mother tongue of the population is predominantly French (98.5%), with English as the first language for 0.5% of the population. English and French as the first language account for 0.4%, and other languages account for 0.5%.

Industry in Matane, Quebec

Matane boasts a diversified economy. The city is renowned for its shrimp, specifically the northern prawn (known locally as crevettes de Matane), which are processed there and celebrated for their high quality. Matane is also home to the largest wind farm in Quebec and two windmill manufacturing plants: Marmen and Enercon. Other industries include a Sappi factory in the field of pulp and paper, a pork product processing plant (Les Cuisines gaspésiennes), a shipyard, a large concrete pipe factory (Béton Provincial), and a sawmill. Matane was also home to the first Dollarama, which opened in April 1992.