Regional Portraits

Abitibi-Témiscamingue (08)


Geography and administration

The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, one of the largest regions in Québec, is located in the far western part of the province. To the north, we find the Nord-du-Québec region, to the south, the Outaouais, to the east the Mauricie, and to the west, the province of Ontario.

Four regional county municipalities (French acronym MRC) include 65 municipalities:

The region is made up of 10 unorganized territories and 4 Indian reserves: Kebaowek, Lac-Simon, Pilogan and Timiskaming.

Rouyn-Noranda is a city with the powers of a regional county municipality. It is one of the region’s most populous cities, alongside Ville-Marie, La Sarre, Amos and Val-d’Or.

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Agriculture, fisheries and food

The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region has a cold continental climate. However, its agricultural land, made up of clayey plains, is rich and fertile. Despite the significant water reserves of its many lakes and the vast area of arable land, only a small part of the region is used for agriculture.​

Beef production is considered to be the main activity of the region. Other agricultural activities are highly diversified, and include dairy farms, grain farming, vegetable gardening, fodder production, and grazing.

U-pick farms, roadside farm stands and a network of public markets spread across the entire territory contribute to the vitality of the region’s agricultural economy.

The retail sector, restaurant services, and food distribution have a distinctly regional flavour, featuring cheeses and maple and honey products.

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Economy and employment

Abitibi-Témiscamingue is rich in natural resources. Its agricultural, forestry, mineral and water resources make it a unique region with a booming economy. The regional country municipalities of Abitibi, Abitibi-Ouest and Témiscamingue are clearly rural in character, while its urban areas are made up of the cities of Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d’Or and their surrounding areas.

The processing of raw materials is the basis of the region’s industrial strength and contributes to higher economic activity and employment rates. The region relies on the quality of its wood fiber. In the manufacturing sector, its softwood lumber, pulp and paper, and wood product manufacturing companies are very active on North American markets.

The bottling of quality water from the region, which is distributed internationally, is another notable niche.​

The region is internationally renowned for its deposits of copper, zinc and nickel, and for precious metals such as gold. The presence of a foundry in Abitibi-Témiscamingue is an asset, as is the expertise of the workforce associated with the mining industry.

Economic conditions are favourable in the service sector, which is positively impacted by activity in the goods-producing sector. Such conditions are a boost to professional services, trade, and transportation businesses. The region’s teaching and research services, engineering services, construction companies, and manufacturing sector (metals, plastic, etc.) have won international recognition.

Major hydroelectric projects during the 1960s and 1970s contributed to regional development with the installation of hydro and thermal power plants. This sector generates many jobs, especially in the area of electricity distribution.

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Tourism, recreation and culture

The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Cree nations, was settled by Europeans in the late 19th century. A place of historical trade between European fur traders and Algonquin, this vast resource-rich region also hosted the first gold prospectors in the early 20th century.

Outdoor enthusiasts are spoiled by the vastness and generous nature of this territory which offers recreational activities during every season. Activities related to the observation and interpretation of nature, as well as hunting and fishing, have many followers and generate significant economic benefits. Access is facilitated by the region’s numerous forest roads and snowmobile trails.

The region boasts an impressive vocational, college and university education network. The Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue has been welcoming foreign students for 20 years.

The cultural industry is flourishing, as evidenced by its many festivals and events, such as the Emerging Music Festival, the Foire gourmande de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue et du Nord-Est ontarien (a food lovers’ fair), and the Festival du cinéma international en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (movie festival). A number of tourist attractions will be of interest to visitors, including the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Mineralogical Museum; the Site patrimonial Cité de l’Or / Village minier de Bourlamaque (historical sites); and the Parc-Aventure Joannès (adventure park), in the Rouyn-Noranda area.

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