Sept-Îles, Quebec Canada

Discovering Sept-Îles, Quebec: A Blend of History and Modernity

Sept-Îles, Quebec, a city in the Côte-Nord region of eastern Quebec, is one of the northernmost locales with a paved connection to the rest of Quebec's road network. Known for its major iron companies, Sept-Îles is a city that thrives on the iron industry. With a population of 25,686 as of the 2011 Canadian census, the city is also known as Uashat, meaning "bay" in Innu-aimun.

The Rich History and Economy of Sept-Îles, Quebec

The first inhabitants of Sept-Îles were varying cultures of aboriginal peoples, including the historic Montagnais or Innu people. Jacques Cartier, the first European to record the area, sailed by the islands in 1535, calling them the Ysles Rondes ("Round Islands"). However, he was not the first European in the area, as he encountered Basque fishermen who came annually from Europe for whaling and cod fishing.

Early European economic activity in Sept-Îles was based on fishing and the fur trade. Louis Joliet established trading posts by 1679. Great Britain took over Canada from France in 1763 after its victory in the Seven Years' War. In 1842 the Hudson's Bay Company founded another post at this location. The village was incorporated into a municipality in 1885.

The modern Sept-Îles was built rapidly during the construction of the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway, the 575 km (357 mi) railway link to the northern town of Schefferville. The railway was built between 1950 and 1954 by the Iron Ore Company of Canada. Iron ore mined near Schefferville and Wabush, Labrador, was transported on this railway and shipped from the Port of Sept-Îles. Shipment of the important new commodity resulted in investments that turned this into a major port.

Transportation in Sept-Îles, Quebec

The Sept-Îles Airport has connections all over Quebec and Labrador. General aviation seaplanes are served by Sept-Îles/Lac Rapides Water Aerodrome. Air Gaspé was based in Sept-Îles, but acquired by Quebecair in 1973. In the 1980s, continued airline restructuring led to Quebecair's being acquired by CP Air in 1986, which in turn was taken over by Canadian Airlines in 1987.

Tshiuetin Rail Transportation also operates a passenger rail service north to Emeril, Labrador (near Labrador City) which continues northward towards its terminus in Schefferville, Quebec.

Groupe Desgagnés operates the Bella Desgagnés passenger and cargo ship along the lower St. Lawrence from Rimouski to Blanc-Sablon from mid-April to mid-January.

The Geography of Sept-Îles, Quebec

Located on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River, between the Sainte-Marguerite and Moisie rivers, Sept-Îles lies on the shore of a deep-water bay fronted by a seven-island archipelago, about 230 kilometres east of Baie-Comeau. The bay constitutes a 45 km2 natural harbour.

The seven islands are named:

  • La Grosse Boule ("the big ball")
  • La Petite Boule ("the small ball")
  • La Grande Basque ("the large Basque", named after the visiting Basque fishermen)
  • La Petite Basque ("the small Basque")
  • Île Manowin (from the Montagnais manouane meaning "where eggs are picked")
  • Île du Corossol (named after the French ship Corossol wrecked on the island in 1693; site of a lighthouse and a bird sanctuary)
  • Îlets Dequen (a group of tiny islands named after Jean de Quen who founded the local Catholic mission in 1650)

The archipelago is under provincial jurisdiction, with some parts administered by the federal government or by individuals.

There are two First Nations reserves in the area: Uashat in the western city proper, and Maliotenam in the east near the Moisie River.

Climate of Sept-Îles, Quebec

Sept-Îles has a subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification Dfc) bordering on a humid continental climate (Dfb) despite being located at around only 50 degrees latitude. The two main seasons are summer and winter, as spring and autumn are very short transition seasons lasting only a few weeks. Winters are long, very cold, and snowy, lasting from late October to late April, but milder than more inland locations, with a January high of −9.8 °C (14.4 °F) and a January low of −20.9 °C (−5.6 °F). Overall precipitation is unusually high for a subarctic climate, and snow totals correspondingly heavy, averaging 384.6 cm (151.4 in) per season, with an average depth of 16 cm (6.3 in) annually or 37.6 cm (14.8 in) from December to April inclusive. Summers are mildly warm, with a July high of 19.6 °C (67.3 °F); summers thus display stronger maritime influence than do winters. Precipitation is significant year-round, but it is lowest from January to March.

Demographics of Sept-Îles, Quebec

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Sept-Îles had a population of 24,569 living in 11,272 of its 12,814 total private dwellings, a change of -3.3% from its 2016 population of 25,400. With a land area of 1,742.88 km2 (672.93 sq mi), it had a population density of 14.1/km2 (36.5/sq mi) in 2021.

At the Census Agglomeration level in the 2021 census, the agglomeration of Sept-Îles had a population of 27,729 living in12,293 of its 13,878 total private dwellings, a change of -2.8% from its 2016 population of 28,534. With a land area of 1,750.44 km2 (675.85 sq mi), it had a population density of 15.8/km2 (40.76/sq mi) in 2021.

Tourism in Sept-Îles, Quebec

Since 2009, Sept-Îles has been part of the Saint-Laurent destination circuit, which has nine international cruise ports. On a larger scale, an alliance is being created with other ports in northeastern America and Canada under the auspices of Canada New England. The international cruises in Sept-Îles are led by the non-profit organization Destination Sept-Îles Nakauinanu.M The organization's mission is to enable the various public and private bodies to enjoy a permanent structure, in the form of a one-stop shop, enabling them to work jointly on the development and promotion of the City of Sept-Îles and from its surroundings to international cruise lines. The main partners involved in the development of international cruises are the city of Sept-Îles, the Port of Sept-Îles, the and Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam. As of 2018, more than 55,000 international visitors have visited the port of call. Cunard, P & O Cruises, Cruise and Maritime Voyages, Phoenix Reisen, Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Saga Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pearl Seas Cruises and Transocean Tours are among the clients of the port. On September 7, 2019, when Royal Caribbean Line made its maiden call overnight, this was a safe haven for avoiding Hurricane Dorian.