Waskaganish, Quebec Canada

Discover Waskaganish, Quebec: A Rich Tapestry of History and Culture

Waskaganish, Quebec, a Cree community of over 2,500 people, is nestled at the mouth of the Rupert River on the south-east shore of James Bay in Northern Quebec, Canada. This community is part of the territory known as "Eeyou Istchee" ("The Land of the People" in Cree), which encompasses the traditional territories of Cree people in the James Bay regions of Northern Quebec and Ontario. In 2018, Waskaganish celebrated its 350-year anniversary, marking its rich history and cultural heritage.

The Ancient History of Waskaganish, Quebec

Human presence in the James Bay area, where Waskaganish is located, is believed to have begun some 7000 years ago. The earliest artefacts recently found in the region of Waskaganish date to some 3000-3500 years old. Aboriginal hunting groups migrated from the south and west, first as seasonal hunting parties and later permanently establishing themselves in what is known as Eeyou Istchee.

According to a study on aboriginal fur trade, Cree hunting groups of three or four families moved from traditional seasonal fishing and hunting camps. They often stayed close to watersheds. In 2012, a local resident of Waskaganish found rough-looking stone blades and arrowheads at the Saunders Goose Pond on Waskaganish territory that could be between 4,000 and 7,000 years old.

The Post-contact History of Waskaganish, Quebec

It was hypothesized that Henry Hudson's fateful over-wintering in 1610-1611 was in Waskaganish territory. On 29 September 1668, Nonsuch, under the command of Zachariah Gillam and guided by Médard des Groseilliers, anchored at the mouth of the Rupert River. In 1668, Rupert House or Charles Fort at Waskaganish on the south bank of Rupert River, was established as the first trading post, two years before the Hudson's Bay Company was formed.

By the 1680s there were a string of trading posts on James Bay Cree traditional land and the Cree had an extensive trade alliance with the HBC. In 1776 the site was re-occupied and named Rupert House or Rupert Fort or Fort Rupert. From then until the early 1900s, Fort Rupert was an important trading location, supplying inland communities and other posts via the Rupert River with regular canoe brigades.

Modern History of Waskaganish, Quebec

In 1991, the archaeologist J. V. Chism found the sites of the two Charles Forts. The first was at the site of the new tourist lodge (Auberge Kanio Kashee Lodge) and the second at the Anglican church. Today, Waskaganish continues to thrive as a vibrant Cree community, preserving its rich history and cultural heritage while embracing the opportunities of the modern world.