Wemotaci, Quebec Canada

Discover Wemotaci, Quebec: A Rich Tapestry of First Nations History and Culture

Wemotaci, Quebec, previously known as Weymontachie 23 until 1997, is a First Nations reserve nestled on the north shore of the Saint-Maurice River at the mouth of the Manouane River. This reserve, located in the Mauricie region of Quebec, Canada, is part of the Atikamekw First Nation, along with the Obedjiwan and the Coucoucache Indian Reserve No. 24.

The Geographical Layout of Wemotaci, Quebec

The reserve of Wemotaci, Quebec, is an enclave within the city of La Tuque. It is bordered to the west and south by the Saint-Maurice River, while its eastern boundary stretches about 3.8 kilometres (2.4 mi) long, and its northern boundary extends 7.8 kilometres (4.8 mi). The reserve is accessible by a gravel road from La Tuque's town centre through the hamlet of Sanmaur, located on the opposite shore of the Saint-Maurice River. The Canadian National Railway also crosses the river at this location, with a siding at Sanmaur.

The Etymology of Wemotaci, Quebec

The name Wemotaci, Quebec, has undergone many spelling variations over time. The earliest reference to the toponym dates back to 1724. In 1827, it was written as Montachene, and in 1829 as Weymontachinque. Other variations include Waimootansking in 1830, Weymontachingue and Warmontashingen in 1832, and Warmontaching in 1837. The 1932 spelling of Weymontachingue on the map of John Arrowsmith became the most common form until 1986, when it was replaced by Weymontachie, as demanded by the local band council. The standardized writing of the Atikamekw language spells it as Wemotaci, which was made official in March 1997.

The History of Wemotaci, Quebec

The upper Saint-Maurice River area, where Wemotaci, Quebec, is located, has long been the homeland and hunting grounds of the Atikamekw indigenous people. Some sources suggest that the North West Company had established a trading post at this place between 1770 and 1780, but this remains unconfirmed. The existence of a trading post at Wemotaci was confirmed in 1806, when Jean-Baptiste Perrault built the first structures for fur trading. In 1821, the post was taken over by the Hudson's Bay Company.

In 1851, the Government enacted the allotment of 230,000 acres (930 km2) of land as reserves for the use and benefit of the "Indian" tribes residing in Lower Canada. Two years later, these lands were distributed among the Atikamekw, Algonquins, and Abenakis by John Rolph, Commissioner of Crown Lands. On August 9, 1853, this was made official by the Governor General in Council. However, the Atikamekw didn't settle on the reserve until 1895 when the reserve was surveyed.

The construction of a dam and the National Transcontinental Railway led to the growth of the Sanmaur settlement, which in turn attracted the Atikamekw to the reserve at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1939, the Hudson's Bay Company left Weymontachingue and due to lack of funding for maintenance of the village, its population stopped growing after 1950. In the 1970s, the village revitalized with a new village built closer to its namesake mountain. In 1971, the Federal Government bought the lands of the Hudson's Bay Company and these were subsequently added to the reserve. In May 2010, many residents of Wemotaci were evacuated as a forest fire threatened their homes.

The Demographics of Wemotaci, Quebec

The population of Wemotaci, Quebec, has seen steady growth over the years. In 1991, the population was 708, which increased to 856 in 1996, 1042 in 2001, and 1213 in 2016. The mother tongue of the majority of the population is Atikamekw at 96.2%, followed by French at 3.4%, with English and other languages making up the remaining 0.4%.