Regional Portraits

Côte-Nord (09)

 

Geography and administration

The Côte-Nord region, the second largest region of Québec, follows Fleuve Saint-Laurent from Tadoussac to the border with Labrador. The region reaches Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean to the west and Nord-du-Québec to the north and includes Île d'Anticosti in Fleuve Saint-Laurent.

Côte-Nord encompasses 6 regional county municipalities (French acronym MRC), comprising 33 municipalities:

It also comprises 21 territories, 9 of which are inhabited by Aboriginal communities and not part of an MRC: Essipit, La Romaine, Lac-John, Maliotenam, Matimékosh, Mingan, Natashquan, Pessamit, and Uashat.

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Agriculture, fisheries and food

Côte-Nord is the most northerly of Québec’s southern agricultural regions. Fishing is the most important bio-food activity; the region’s soil favours the cultivation of small fruits and potatoes.

The Côte-Nord’s immense potential for the cultivation of small fruits, in particular cranberries, cloudberries, blueberries, lingonberries, buckthorn berries, honeyberries and black crowberries, is arousing keen interest among many promoters.

Agriculture in the region also aims to meet the fresh vegetable needs of Côte-Nord consumers as well as the requirements of a burgeoning regional cuisine. For this purpose, innovative techniques such as permaculture have emerged and have been added to traditional practices, including cultivation in fields and greenhouses or in tunnels, so as to meet the fresh fruit and vegetable needs of communities in remote villages on the Basse-Côte-Nord.

Aware of the valuable resources that the region has to offer, many processing companies are busy creating and promoting new local products born of the marriage between various products of earth and sea. Forest berry fondant, pine needle honey, cloudberry ice cream and checkerberry jam are all special products that distinguish Côte-Nord from other regions.

Commercial fishing and seafood processing have become the Côte-Nord’s niche of excellence. Fishers mainly net snow crabs and shrimp, but are also turning to new products and new species, such as Stimpson’s surfclam and the Minganie scallop. Moreover, Côte-Nord stands out for the remarkable partnership developed between the Innu communities and the regional fishing industry.

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Economy and employment

The region’s economy is based on the exploitation and transformation of natural resources: energy, forestry, mining, metallurgy and commercial fishing.

The region has developed a niche of excellence in resources, sciences and marine technologies, as well as in mining and metallurgical engineering.

Côte-Nord is known worldwide for its iron ore mines, and the aluminum smelters in Baie-Comeau and Sept-Îles produce a significant proportion of the aluminum used in Québec. Mining and hydroelectric projects and the construction sector provide a great many jobs in the region.

The health care and social assistance sector and the retail sector are the largest employers in Côte-Nord.

The retail sector is the main employer in the Côte-Nord bio-food industry. The food service sector has developed a regional cuisine with local products and seafood processing.

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Tourism, recreation and culture

The extension of Highway 138 has helped put Côte-Nord on the map, rescuing the region from its former isolation. In recent years, the abundance of wildlife resources, the local flora, and beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see have been attracting tourists and lovers of wide-open spaces and the great outdoors.

Côte-Nord includes the tourist regions of Duplessis and Manicouagan. The Manicouagan-Uapishka World Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest in the world, is located there.

The tourism industry has also developed because of international cruises and marine mammal viewing cruises. Activities specific to Côte-Nord include visiting Île d'Anticosti, a paradise for hunters and anglers, and the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, known for its monoliths and resident seabirds.

A historical site, the Vieux-Poste de Traite de Sept-Îles (old trading post), is a popular destination for visitors seeking first-hand experience of the fur-trade era.

Every summer, Aboriginal culture is showcased near Sept-Îles at the Innu Nikamu Festival, in Maliotenam, which is home to an Innu community.

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