GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord

Quebec Lower North Shore GenWeb


Le GenWeb de la Basse Côte-Nord est une composante du GenWeb du Québec et du Canada GenWeb.

The Lower North Shore GenWeb is part of the Quebec GenWeb and the Canada GenWeb Projects.



By Sharon Chubbs-Ransom


In the spring, Montagnais of the Northern Coast of the St. Lawrence would drive out to what they called Naticousti, “territory of hunting otter”.  Jacque Cartier viewed the Island from his ship on his first voyage in 1534. On his voyage the following year he named the island Il’Assumption. In the next year Jean-Francois navigator with Roberval in their distant passing viewed and named it for its high tower like cliffs, Ascension Island. Towards the end of the century in 1609 the islands original name was Latinized to Anticosty. Up to the last half of the 17th century the Island remained uninhabited aside from the Amerindiens who went there to hunt. The French, Basque and Portugese would land there on occasion.


For three centuries the Island remained private property. In 1680, Louis XIV gave Anticosti Island, along with the Mingan Islands in Seigniory, to the explorer Louis Jolliet. It was a reward for Jolliet’s discovery of Illinois and his voyage to Hudson Bay. The following spring, Louis Jolliet cleared two acres of forest on the north-western coast and built a fort. He established trade with the Amerindiens and created a company where he sold fish and seal oil to the inhabitants of Quebec. When Louis Jolliet died in 1700 his son Charles was named Govenor of Anticosti. Following his death Anticosti was abandoned.


In 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, New France yielded all English Islands to the colony of Newfoundland. However, in 1774 by the Act of Quebec, Newfoundland gave Anticosti back to Quebec. This exchange back and forth between these two governments would take place twice more with Anticosti returned to Quebec finally in 1825. After the British conquest, a group of English business men purchased Anticosti with the intention of developing it, but this venture never did come to fruition. Then, in 1872, the Anticosti Company better known as the Forsyth Company bought the Island to colonize and develop it for the fishing industry. Some Acadien families and several families from the southwest coast of Newfoundland settled at English Bay. Other Acadien families settled at Lance au Cutter and other Newfoundland families settled at Fox Bay. Not long after this, the Company declared bankruptcy. The Quebec government tried to evacuate the Newfoundlanders but they refused to move and remained. In 1884, Francis William Stockwell, a British business man along with two Quebec business associates bought Anticosti. The venture to try to colonize it by the Govenor and this Company met with disaster. They tried to sell the Island to Canada but Canada didn’t want it.


Anticosti has a very colorful history. From the intrigue of Capt. Louis Olivier Gamache, the self styled and self proclaimed “wizard” who lived and worked as lighthouse keeper on Anticosti, to the shipwrecked Harrington, a mulatto that went beserk and murdered crew and passengers of the Irish Barque, Granicus. The stories go on and on. It has always been a place to fear, not unlike Sable Island with its rich history of shipwrecks.


In 1895, Henri Menier purchased Anticosti for $125,000 and became the owner. He changed the name of English Bay to Bay-Holy-Clare in memory of his mother. The legal framework of the business was run by George Martin Zede, Menier’s manager. He established an industrial and commercial enterprise with offices in Quebec. He levied and imposed land taxes on the inhabitants, which the Newfoundland settlers, who had been enticed to settle there, refused to pay. In 1897, Menier imported 150 female deer and stags from Virginia. He annually invested a quarter million dollars in his project. From 1896, Zede continued to advocate the evacuation of the Newfoundland families from Fox Bay, because they continued to refuse to pay the levied land tax. Zede also accused the Newfoundlanders of piracy and poaching! The piracy charge was taken to the courts by the Presbyterian Church in defense of the people, and a retraction of the accusation ended with an apology. It was about this time the Canadian government sent in Quebec magistrates to talk the Newfoundland people into moving. It became an ugly scene and John Stubbert the telegraph operator is reported to have chased the magistrate off with a gun. He was jailed but the Presbyterian Church appealed on his behalf and he was released. In 1899, the Newfoundlanders lost their case in the courts and the Canadian government removed them by force and settled these families in Renfrew and Perth Ontario and as far away as Dauphin, Manitoba. It was an ugly time in the press with accusations back and forth between the English and French in Quebec, Canada and France. Henri Menier married and continued to build and make changes to the Island. He built Port Menier and a large house overlooking the Bay. In that year, there were about 200 inhabitants at Bay-Holy-Clare, 127 at L’Anse au Cutters and 14 at Fox River. With the death of Henri Menier in 1913, his brother Gaston Menier inherited the Island. In 1914, with the outbreak of WW I, Zede returned to Europe. In 1926, Gaston Menier sold Anticosti for $6,500,000 to the Anticosti Corporation a consortium consisting of Wayagamack, St. Maurice Valley Corporation and the Port Alfred Pulp and Paper Company. The Island became a vast supplier of building supplies and pulp wood. They flourished until 1929. In 1931, the Island was sold to Consolidated Paper Corporation. This Company continued to cut pulpwood while at the same time developing tourism in hunting and fishing.


In 1937, a Montreal financier with Dutch and German interest tried to exercise a business option to buy Anticosti. Mackenzie King, then Prime Minister of Canada, prohibited the sale. In the winter of 1942, during WWII, the Germans had upwards of twenty submarines in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Many people affirmed having witnessed submarines in the area. In 1953 for “safety measures” the Consolidated Paper Consortium Limited burned the Menier villa.  In 1974 the Quebec government repurchased Anticosti for $26, 363,000. It became public property and is now a provincial park.


Ref. “Paradise Found” Anticosti by MacKay, Donald, Editions Press, 1983.


“Labrador et Anticosti”, V. A. Huad, C. O. Beauchemin & Fils, Montreal, 1897 “The German Attempt to Purchase Anticosti Island in 1937”


“Secrets of the North Atlantic”, Snow, Edward Rowe, Dodd, Mead and Co., New York, 1950

Date entered on the Web: 13 March 2005


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