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Home > Destinations > Sept-Îles
Photo by/Photo par: Michel Desmeules


Because the Saint-Lawrence River runs in a northeastern direction, the southern cities of Montreal, the provincial capital of Quebec City and Sept-Îles, all lining the north shore, provide the best access to all 14 communities of Nunavik.

Sept-Îles is the northernmost town in Quebec with any significant population. Its first inhabitants were a mix of native people, of whom the best known are the historic Montagnais Innu who called it Uashat (Great Bay). It was they who first met Jacques Cartier as he traveled down the river, although Basque fishermen had been exploiting the waters for whaling and cod fishing decades earlier.

Early European economic activity in Sept-Îles was based on fishing and the fur trade. The fabled Louis Joliet established trading posts by 1679, but after the British had conquered New France, the Hudson’s Bay Company took over commercial activity. The village was not incorporated as a municipality until 1885.

Lacking road access at the time, the town got its first pier as late as 1908. But with the construction of the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway to Schefferville between 1950 and 1954, the population grew as iron ore mined in Labrador was transported by railway to be shipped abroad. Subsequent investment transformed the city into a major deep-water seaport, but the decline in worldwide iron ore prices in recent decades has since caused employment and population to decrease, although the port remains active.

Things to see and do

In winter you can ski or snowboard at resorts not far from the city. While you are in Sept-Îles, you can take a boat trip to Anticosti Island whose relative isolation has preserved the feeling of Quebec's past.

Name meaning

Seven islands.




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