Regional Portraits

Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean (02)


Geography and administration

Located on the north shore of the Fleuve Saint-Laurent, the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region extends from north of Lac Saint-Jean to the mouth of the Fjord de la rivière Saguenay. It is bordered to the northeast by Côte-Nord, to the northwest by Nord-du-Québec, to the southwest by Mauricie, and to the southeast by Capitale-Nationale.

Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean has 49 municipalities and 11 other types of territories. Most are grouped into 4 regional county municipalities (French acronym MRC):

The region has one Indian reserve, Mashteuiatsh, where an Innu First Nation community resides.

Saguenay (city) is not part of an MRC. However, its administration exercises certain powers normally assigned to an MRC. It is the region’s most populous city. Alma, Roberval, Saint-Félicien and Dolbeau-Mistassini are also important municipalities in the region.

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Agriculture, fisheries and food

Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean’s geographical features and cool climate foster a distinct agriculture associated with its nordicity.

In addition, it is the region that produces the most lowbush blueberries, oats, canola and seed potatoes in Québec. There are also dozens of certified organic companies located there.

Almost half of the farming enterprises of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean specialize in animal production. Their activities are concentrated primarily in dairy, beef and sheep production.

With regard to crop production, fruit production is of significant importance. In fact, nearly 400 companies produce blueberries each and every year. The region also stands out for its honeyberry producers.

The food processing industry is a sector with great development potential, characterized, in particular, by the freezing, cheese, and cured-meat processing plants established in the region. The region also benefits from a network of farm stands and from agrotourism.

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Economy and employment

Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean’s economic development focuses on the exploitation of natural resources. The resulting regional economic structure has favoured the establishment of large companies. These companies rely on a competent and qualified workforce and operate in a dynamic environment which is abreast of new technologies. The important economic sectors include:

  • logging and wood product manufacturing
  • primary metal manufacturing (aluminium)
  • hydroelectricity
  • metal product manufacturing
  • construction and engineering

During the past 30 years, the economy of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean has faced many upheavals, which have affected, in particular, the forestry industry, the aluminum industry, and the manufacturing sector, while several areas stand out for their excellence or innovation, including:

  • northern agriculture, focused around wild blueberries and seed potatoes​
  • aluminum processing
  • ecotourism
  • adventure tourism
The city of Saguenay, home to nearly half of the region’s businesses, is a relatively diversified commercial and services centre. In Lac-Saint-Jean, four economic hubs offer services locally to the surrounding agro-forestal municipalities of Alma, Roberval, Saint-Félicien, and Dolbeau-Mistassini.

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Tourism, recreation and culture

Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean offers a large number of tourist attractions. One of the best known, Lac Saint-Jean, welcomes numerous lovers of water sports every year. Surrounded by white sand beaches and campgrounds where numerous outdoor activities unfold, the lake delights Saguenay residents and tourists alike.

At the mouth of the Rivière Saguenay, it is also possible to watch belugas and whales, as it is from a viewing platform overlooking the mouth of Baie Sainte-Marguerite. Watching cruises are available during the tourist season.

A number of festivals and events enliven the region, including the Traversée internationale du lac Saint-Jean (cross-lake swimming) competition and the La fabuleuse histoire d’un royaume (historical theatre) show.

Cultural tourism is a regional development tool for a number of artisans, artists and organizations. It contributes to Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean’s cultural vitality. The region stands out for its network of cultural sites, especially due to its public libraries and museums.

In addition to its many events and typical and authentic attractions, the region is also renowned for its agri-food products. Various tourist routes offer an experience at the heart of this world of regional flavours, combining gourmet tourism and the great outdoors.

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