Gateway to the magnificent Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park
Saguenay, formerly Chicoutimi, is a city of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region in southern Quebec. In 2002 Chicoutimi merged with Jonquièreand other former municipalities to form the city of Saguenay; the two former towns became districts of the new entity.
Chicoutimi district is situated at the head of navigation on the Saguenay River, while Jonquière district lies along the Rivière aux Sables, a tributary of the Saguenay. Established in 1676 as a Jesuit mission and trading post, Chicoutimi proliferated after 1850 with the development of lumbering.
It was incorporated as a town in 1930, and in 1976 the city of Chicoutimi was created from several neighbouring municipalities and a parish.
Surrounding areas were annexed, including Chicoutimi-Nord, Rivière-du-Moulin, and an earlier community called Saguenay. That city remained until the further consolidations of 2002.
Saguenay is closely associated with the extensive hydroelectric development on the Saguenay River that provides power for a huge aluminum-smelting plant in Jonquière district. The area is home to Arvida Bridge, the first bridge in the world built entirely of aluminum.
The city’s other manufactures include pulp, paper, furniture, aluminum window frames, wrought iron, leather goods, and textiles. The Chicoutimi district is the site of a large hospital and the seat of a bishopric established there in 1878. The city also has a branch of the University of Québec.
The 62-mile-long Saguenay fjord north of Quebec City is the only navigable fjord in North America. Carved by glaciers during the Ice Age, the waterway is the prime feature of the region. Here, clear lake waters perfectly reflect the white pines, jagged peaks, and blue skies. Once a thrill for historical navigators, it has found new admirers in outdoor enthusiasts who come to climb the cliffs, pedal the pathways, and discover new culinary uses for the blueberries that flourish here in the fall.
Mid-July through mid-September offers weather perfect for outdoor adventures and the annual six-mile-long Main Street feast at the Traversée Internationale du Lac-Saint-Jean; in August-September, the harvest is musically celebrated at the Festival du Bleuet. After Labor Day weekend, some businesses close for the season.
The 160-mile Veloroute des Bleuets winds through 15 cities around Lac Saint-Jean in a mix of flat paths and small hills. Sail the fjords on the maritime shuttle, which has several stops between La Baie and Tadoussac. Whales can often be spotted en route.
In Saguenay you can buy blueberries in all forms (jam, tea, pie) and cheese made fresh locally. Take home the area’s famous chocolate-covered blueberries. Locally made bearskin boots evoke Quebec’s fur trader history.
Photo credits: @villedesaguenay @joga80 @stephaniestgelais_ @spiritours_foi @jessicabeaulieulecomte @_mariepier_ @mary.swaydan