Regional Portraits

Bas-Saint-Laurent (01)

 

Geography and administration

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region is located on the south shore of the estuary of the Fleuve Saint-Laurent. In the north, it stretches from La Pocatière to Méchins. To the south, it extends to the borders of New Brunswick and Maine (United States).

Bas-Saint-Laurent includes 114 municipalities, divided into 8 regional county municipalities (French acronym MRC):

The region also includes 16 areas that are not part of any regional county municipality and two Indian reserves: Cacouna and Whitworth.

The population is concentrated mainly in Rimouski, the largest city in the region, but also in Rivière-du-Loup, Matane, Mont-Joli and Amqui.

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Agriculture, fisheries and food

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region benefits from natural conditions such as a cool, moist climate and good quality water. The low cost of agricultural land is also an advantage. The region can rely on resources available in the areas of innovation, training, and consulting to promote the development of the bio-food industry.

The majority of Bas-Saint-Laurent agriculture businesses specialize in livestock production, mainly in the dairy, bovine, swine and ovine areas. Regarding crops, sugar maple production ranks first both in terms of the number of companies as well as for the profits it generates. The region has a high number of certified organic operations in the dairy and maple product industries.

The region is characterized by a diversification of production and agricultural activities. This is the case for cereal and oilseed crops, for the horticultural sector, as well as for the emerging organic pork production industry.

The region has many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) specializing in food processing, such as cheese shops, delis and bakeries. Meanwhile, its large processing enterprises mainly specialize in animal slaughtering, pork cutting and seafood processing.

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Economy and employment

The Bas-Saint-Laurent manufacturing sector features dynamic industries such as food and beverage manufacturing, industrial metal production, and wood product manufacturing. While it is still important in terms of production, the primary sector, particularly composed of the agriculture and forestry sectors, has seen a marked decrease in volume of employment in the last 15 years, while, for its part, the services sector has experienced a relatively large increase.

Many small and medium-sized businesses show signs of strength and contribute to economic growth in the region. A flair for innovation and research and development has resulted in an advantageous position regionally, nationally and even internationally, particularly in the following niches of excellence:

  • Eco-construction
  • Marine resources, sciences and technologies
  • Development of peat and agri-environmental technologies

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Tourism, recreation and culture

The Bas-Saint-Laurent, a vast territory along the river, offers an impressive array of tourist attractions, especially due to its many national parks and wildlife reserves.

Some 30 celebrations and festivals, of local or international scope, mark the region’s yearly calendar. Festival-goers can discover the talent of artists from here and elsewhere at events such as the Festi Jazz international de Rimouski, the Concerts aux îles du Bic festival, and the Festival international de cinéma jeunesse de Rimouski (youth cinema).

The region abounds with businesses in the cultural sector and with heritage sites, such as the Île Verte Lighthouse, which is the oldest lighthouse on the Fleuve Saint-Laurent, the Canadian National Railway Station of Amqui, and the Maison hantée (haunted house) de Notre-Dame-des-Neiges.

The Bas du fleuve, as it is frequently called, is home to more than 500 organizations offering cultural products, presenting performances, and managing publishing houses or film and video production companies, and also features museums, artists' centres, bookstores and public libraries.

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