Caniapiscau Attractions and Sightseeing
The northern lights are present year round, particularly between August and March. Longer nights and earlier nightfall contribute to their sightings. Active solar winds are common during this period, thus giving the sky a wonderful glow. This magical phenomenon begins at nightfall. Often green, sometimes purple or red, the lights start dancing on a starlit backdrop. Witness a grand event; discover the greatness of the universe. At times, it will seem as if the rays touch the ground and you could almost catch a morsel of its beauty.
In mid-august, a rainfall of shooting stars joins in the dance along with the northern lights. Since Fermont is isolated, it has very little light pollution; it is therefore easier to find an excellent place from which to contemplate the sky.
In 1970, great minds worked together on the necessary research to build a modern northern town, entirely powered by hydro-electricity. The architects, Maurice Desnoyers and Norbert Schoenauer, were inspired by constructions found in northern Sweden, designed by Ralf Erskine. They proposed an impressive windscreen to provide protection against the northern winds. This multifunctional building, unique in North America, is 50 metres high and 1.3 kilometres long. It is built in the form of an arrow pointing north-northwest, and extends its protective arms around the town.
Inside the windscreen, there are over 330 apartments and 158 bachelor rooms, and all community services: schools, recreation center, shopping mall, town hall etc. Everything is connected by a controlled-atmosphere corridor. Being able to stay inside and go about everyday activities without having to confront rigorous winter days is a welcome option for its residents.
To book a tour, called Tourism Office of Fermont 418 287-5822.
The development of the Caniapiscau region is closely linked to the mining industry. The Mont-Wright site, near Fermont, is exploited by the company ArcelorMittal Mines Canada, one of Canada's leading suppliers of iron ore to steel markets around the world. Come discover a world of immensity: imagine 240-ton "Tonka" drills up to three stories high, with the bucket of a mechanical shovel so big that it can fit 24 500 000 playing dice of 1 cubic centimetre each.
In summer, visit the mine site according to the following guidelines:
- Visits last 2 hours and are free of charge;
- It is necessary to book reservations, as there is a limit of 25 visitors per visit. To do so, please call 418 287-5822 (Tourism office);
- Children must be at least 10 years of age and accompanied by an adult.
Filming is not allowed.
Exploited by the IOC mining company up to 1982, the site at Schefferville offers an almost lunar landscape characterized by deep pits and the various colours of exposed minerals.
You can't visit Fermont without discovering unique northern urban planning. The multi-functional windscreen, street layout, many parks and recreation facilities are just a few examples of points of interest worth seeing in Fermont.
To book a town tour, contact Tourism Office of Fermont.
In Schefferville, don't miss the Guest House, an inn that has welcomed such personalities as Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II and Prince Philip as well as the Honourable Maurice Duplessis. Important historical fact: the Honourable Maurice Duplessis died at the Guest House, while staying there during a fishing trip. Discover the Burnt Creek cabin, first permanent construction in Schefferville, where the decision to begin mining operations was signed on July 27th 1947. To complete your tour, visit the Innu community of Matimekush-Lac John and travel to Kawawachikamach and meet the last Naskapi community in the world.
The Groulx Mounts massif is located east of the Manicouagan reservoir, 330 km north of Baie-Comeau and 220 km south of Fermont. To reach them, take the Trans Quebec-Labrador road (389-500). The massif covers a surface of about 5000 km². Veyrier and Jauffret mounts are among the highest summits of Quebec, at 1104 metres and 1065 metres in altitude respectively. The Groulx mounts have gained an international reputation, as much for their beauty as for their unmarred natural state.
In the province of Quebec, they are a dream place to hike or off-track ski. Traveling in the Groulx mounts is to discover the wonderful world of the arctic without having to go too far off the beaten road. Sculpted in the oldest rock formations of the world, the massif is a virtually untouched island of taïga. Their distance from major cities partly explains their exoticness.
The George River caribou herd spends its winter migration inside Caniapiscau territory. At 440 000 heads, it is one of the largest herds of wild animals outside Africa.
It is difficult to imagine the extent of this unique phenomenon. Imagine yourself beside a frozen lake, feel the earth move under your feet, hear the sound of hoof beats and see the herd on the horizon like a wave approaching you. Don't be afraid, caribou are ruminants; they are not aggressive creatures. Be patient, stay still and who knows, you may be lucky enough to feel the breath of a Canadian reindeer. Come live nature at its purest.
Gagnon, the town that disappeared
The mining town of Gagnon existed from 1960 to 1985, at a place about 175 km southwest of Fermont.
In 1956, the Quebec Cartier mining Company (QCM) began exploiting the mineral zones of Lake Jeannine, which led to construction of the town of Gagnon on the banks of Barbel Lake, and of a railway to Port-Cartier (finished in 1960).
Then, in 1974, the creation of the Sidbec-Normines Company by the Quebec government, and the opening of the Fire Lake site were destined to ensure the survival of Gagnon.
During the upheaval of the 80s recession, the decision was made to consolidate the iron-ore extraction industry in Quebec. This decision led, in August of 1985, to the shutdown of operations at Fire Lake, and with it, the town of Gagnon.
Today, only the two stocking and loading silos remain.
The only reminder of the once thriving town of Gagnon is what's left of street No. 1, along Barbel Lake. Every house, building and street has been destroyed.