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.


Innu of the Quebec Lower North Shore


It is difficult to imagine the Quebec Lower North Shore without indigenous people. They have been there longer then we know. Maybe that is why today we tend to take their presence for granted without stopping to consider how our lives would be changed without them?


The Montagnais occupied the forest areas along the North Shore of the St. Lawrence River and were a woodland people, shifting routinely between summer camps near the river and winter hunting camps in the interior.


The Montagnais meaning "mountaineers" were the first native people encountered by the white explorers and concessionaires when they first arrived on this coast. Jacques Cartier encountered them; Marguerite de la Rocque was said to have seen them though it is not recorded that she met them. Courtemanche is said to have had thirty Montagnais families living around his Fort at Baie Phelypeaux in 1716. They supported Courtemanche with fishing and hunting and traded with him.


Nitassinan, the Montagnais homeland, is a vast area, which includes most of Quebec east of the St. Maurice River extending along the north side of the St. Lawrence to the Atlantic Ocean in Labrador. To the north their territory reached as far as the divide between the St. Lawrence and James Bay drainage’s. There were three divisions: the Montagnais along the St. Lawrence between the St. Maurice River and Sept-Iles; the Naskapi east of them in Labrador; and the Attikamek on the upper St. Maurice River north of Montreal.


When the Hudson Bay set up trading posts in this area, whether at Mingan or later at St. Augustine, a requirement was that they set up in areas of native hunting to trade for their furs. The Montagnais were at Mingan while St. Augustine had once been "the great resort of the Nascapi".


Originally the population was about 10,000, reaching its low-point of 2,000 in 1884. Currently, there are almost 13,000 Montagnais in Quebec with another 800 living in Labrador. The 1,100 Naskapi are also split, 600 in Quebec and 500 in Labrador, while the Attikamek have 4,600, all in Quebec. When all groups of the Montagnais are added together, the total is close to 20,000 making the Montagnais the largest group of Native Americans in Quebec after the Mohawk. At present, they are organized into four separate tribal governments. The Innu Nation represents the Naskapi and Montagnais in Labrador, while the Quebec Montagnais belong to either the Mamuitun or the Mammit Imnuat First Nation. The Attikamek formerly were part of the Montagnais but recently have chosen to maintain a separate status. Through the years, these two tribes have, like the white, intermarried and intermingled.


Pakuashipi is one of the two Amerindian communities on the Lower North Shore. The Montagnais Indians who speak their native languages, as well as English and French populate it. The Montagnais, originally nomadic, settled in Pakuashipi after the Minister of Indian Affairs built houses there in 1972. One of the greatest things about this village is the bond it shares with its sister village of St. Augustine across the St. Augustine River. There are frequent, joint activities between the two towns that have allowed a close kinship to spring up within the two communities.


La Romaine is unique in that the white people and the Montagnais live in close harmony. The Montagnais fish mostly in the rivers and hunt game, along with having several fishing clubs, which support them.


Picture 1 (click here / cliquez ici) - Innu families at Harrington Harbour probably to trade but could be also seeking medical treatment. Note their canoes in the background. Picture from the Dr. Mather Hare collection in possession of grandson Patrick Hare, copied by Sharon Chubbs-Ransom

Picture 2 (click here / cliquez ici) - Innu woman in traditional dress. The traditional dress is seldom seen in today’s age.

Picture 3 (click here / cliquez ici) - Innu children in traditional dress.


Entered on Gen Web: 14 December 2002



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Thank you to the previous coordinators, Sharon Ransom and Marc-André Gosselin, for their excellent work !
We are looking forward to reading your suggestions and comments. / Il nous fera plaisir de lire vos suggestions et commentaires.

Dernière mise à jour: 13/10/2016

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Suzette Leclair, Provincial Coordinator, Quebec GenWeb Project