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Saguenay - Lac-St-Jean

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Lac Saint-Jean is a veritable inland sea with a diameter of over 35km; from it flows the Rivière Saguenay, the location of the southernmost fjord in the world. In a way, these two impressive bodies of water form the backbone of this magnificent region. Moving swiftly toward the St. Lawrence River, the Rivière Saguenay flows through a rugged landscape of cliffs and mountains. Aboard a cruise ship or from the banks of the river, visitors can enjoy a series of gorgeous panoramic views of this untouched natural setting. The Saguenay is navigable as far as Chicoutimi, and governed by the eternal rhythm of the tides. Its rich marine animal life includes various species of whales, in the summer. In the heart of the region, visitors will find the bustling city of Chicoutimi, the main urban centre in this part of Québec. The region's first settlers came here in the 19th century, attracted by the beautiful fertile plains and excellent farmland around the lake. The hard life of these pioneers, who were farmers in the summer and lumberjacks in the winter, was immortalized in Louis Hémon's novel Maria Chapdelaine. Sweet and delicious blueberries abound in the area and have made the region of Lac Saint-Jean famous. The fruit is so closely identified with the region that Quebecers all over the province have adopted the term bleuets, blueberries, as an affectionate nickname for the local inhabitants. Residents of both the Saguenay and Lac Saint-Jean regions are renowned for their friendliness and spirit.

The early history of the city of Jonquière is marked by the story of Marguerite Belley of La Malbaie, who escorted three of her sons to Jonquière on horseback to prevent them from being tempted to emigrate to the United States. Today, Jonquière is regarded as an essentially modern town, whose economic mainspring is the Alcan aluminum smelter.

In the language of the Montagnais, "Chicoutimi" means "there where it is deep," a reference to the waters of the Saguenay, which are navigable as far as this city, the most important urban area in the entire Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. Along the streets, visitors will notice shop signs bearing typical Saguenay names, like Tremblay and Claveau, as well as English-sounding names, such as Harvey and Blackburn; this is indicative of a phenomenon found only in this part of the country, the assimilation of English-speaking families into French-speaking society.

The Pulperie de Chicoutimi Musée de Site de la Pulperie de Chicoutimi (300 Rue Dubuc, 698-3100) was originally a vast industrial complex, built alongside the turbulent Rivière Chicoutimi, that included four pulp mills equipped with turbines and digesters, two hydroelectric stations, a smelter, a repair shop and a railway platform. The decline of pulp prices in 1921 and the 1929 Stock Market Crash led to the closing of the pulp mill. It remained abandoned until 1980. Since 1996, the whole complex has become a gigantic museum covering an area of over 1ha.

At the Zoo "Sauvage" de Saint-Félicien (2230 Boulevard du Jardin, 679-0543 or 800-667-5687), visitors can observe various species of Québec's indigenous wildlife in their natural habitat. What makes this zoo unique is that the animals are not in cages, but roam about freely, while visitors tour the zoo in small, screened buses. A lumber camp, a fur-trading post, a Montagnais encampment, and a settler's farm have

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