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Saguenay, Quebec

Ville de Saguenay
From top left: Downtown Chicoutimi borough, the UQAC, the Ha!Ha! pyramid, the Cégep de Jonquière, and Rio Tinto's aluminium smelters in Arvida
From top left: Downtown Chicoutimi borough, the UQAC, the Ha!Ha! pyramid, the Cégep de Jonquière, and Rio Tinto's aluminium smelters in Arvida
Flag of Saguenay
Saguenay is located in Quebec
Location of Saguenay in Quebec
Coordinates: [1]
Country  Canada
Province  Quebec
Region Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean
RCM None
Settled 1840s
Constituted February 18, 2002
 • Type Saguenay City Council
 • Mayor Jean Tremblay
 • Federal riding Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and Jonquière—Alma
 • Prov. riding Chicoutimi, Dubuc and Jonquière
 • City 1,279.70 km2 (494.09 sq mi)
 • Land 1,126.48 km2 (434.94 sq mi)
 • Urban[4] 131.9 km2 (50.9 sq mi)
 • Metro[5] 2,564.02 km2 (989.97 sq mi)
Elevation 166 m (545 ft)
Population (2014)[3]
 • City 147,100
 • Density 128.5/km2 (333/sq mi)
 • Urban[4] 106,666
 • Urban density 808.7/km2 (2,095/sq mi)
 • Metro[5] 157,790
 • Metro density 61.5/km2 (159/sq mi)
 • Pop (2006–11) Increase 0.7%
 • Dwellings 66,798
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Postal code(s) G7(B,G-H,J-K,N,S-T,X-Z), G8A
Area code(s) 418 and 581
Website .ca.qc.saguenay.villewww

Saguenay ( or ; French pronunciation: ​) is a city in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, Canada, on the Saguenay River, about 200 kilometres (120 mi) north of Quebec City by overland route. It is about 126 kilometres (78 mi) upriver and northwest of Tadoussac, located at the confluence with the St. Lawrence River. This city was formed in 2002 by a merger and annexation of smaller jurisdictions, including Chicoutimi, founded by the French in 1676.

The city of Saguenay constitutes a territory equivalent to a regional county municipality (TE); its geographical code is 941. Together with the regional county municipality of Le Fjord-du-Saguenay, it forms the census division (CD) of Le Saguenay-et-son-Fjord (94). The mayor of Saguenay is Jean Tremblay, who served as mayor of Chicoutimi before the merger. Prior to its use as the name of the city, the term "the Saguenay" or (less commonly) "Saguenay Valley" had already been used for the whole Saguenay River region (see Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean). Saguenay is the seat of the judicial district of Chicoutimi.[6]

The city is divided into three boroughs: Chicoutimi (which includes the former city of Chicoutimi, as well as Laterrière and Tremblay township), Jonquière (which includes the former city of Jonquière, Lac-Kénogami, and Shipshaw) and La Baie (which corresponds to the former city of La Baie).


  • History 1
    • Chicoutimi 1.1
    • Jonquière 1.2
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Demographics 3
    • Statistics for the Census Metropolitan Area 3.1
  • Economy 4
  • Sports 5
  • Government 6
    • Municipal 6.1
    • Federal and provincial 6.2
  • Infrastructure 7
  • Education 8
    • Research 8.1
  • Media 9
  • Sister cities 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Saguenay was formed on February 18, 2002 by amalgamating the cities of Chicoutimi, Jonquière, La Baie and Laterrière, along with the municipalities of Lac-Kénogami and Shipshaw and part of the township of Tremblay.[7]


Old Chicoutimi Pulp Mill was an early 20th-century industrial complex in operation from 1898 to 1930

What was ultimately to become the center of the borough of Chicoutimi was first settled in 1676 as a French trading post in the fur trade. At that time, the Saguenay and the Chicoutimi rivers had been used for centuries by the Montagnais tribes (Innu). The name Chicoutimi means the end of the deep water in the Montagnais language. Chicoutimi trading post was in operation until 1782.

The city of Chicoutimi was officially incorporated as a municipality in 1845 by Peter McLeod, a Métis timber contractor, who had built a sawmill there in 1842. It was designated in 1855 as the seat of Chicoutimi County and in 1878 as the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chicoutimi.

With the arrival of the Canadian National Railway in 1893, the local pulp and paper industries expanded, particularly in mechanical pulp production. The Chicoutimi Pulp Co. was founded in 1896 and backed by French-Canadian investors. By 1910 the Chicoutimi Pulp Mill became the biggest producer of mechanical pulp in Canada.

Since the economic decline of the Great Depression, the city's economy shifted to being based on an administrative and commercial center. The Conservatoire de musique de Saguenay was founded in Chicoutimi in 1967, and the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi was founded in 1969. The city played host to the Quebec Summer Games in 1972.

In the municipal amalgamations of 1976, Chicoutimi annexed the neighbouring towns of Chicoutimi-Nord and Rivière-du-Moulin. In a later round of amalgamations in 2002, the cities of Chicoutimi, Jonquière, La Baie, Lac-Kénogami, Laterrière, Shipshaw and part of Tremblay merged to form the new city of Saguenay.[7] Chicoutimi became a borough of Saguenay.

During the summer of 1996 a record rainfall in the region caused major flooding in the downtown, as well as outlying areas. The total cost of the disaster was recorded to be 1.5 billion Canadian dollars. It claimed seven lives and destroyed many bridges.


A view of Jonquiere as seen from Mont Jacob.

Jonquière was founded in 1847 by Marguerite Belley, who came from La Malbaie to settle on the Rivière aux Sables. It was named after the Marquis de La Jonquière, governor of New France from 1749 to 1752.

Growth came from the construction of pulp and paper mills at the beginning of the 20th century. Between 1925 and 1928, the world's largest aluminum plant was built along with the city Arvida (then a separate town). In 1942, to supply power to the plant, Alcan built a hydroelectric station at Shipshaw that was the largest in the world at that time. Jonquière, Arvida, and Kénogami were amalgamated into a single city, Jonquière, in 1975. Jonquière was the host city for the Quebec Games in the winter of 1976, and for the Canoe/Kayak World Championships in slalom and whitewater racing, in 1979.

Much of Jonquière's development owed its strength to the Price family, who ran a pulp and paper factory in Kénogami. Today that factory is owned by Abitibi-Consolidated. Arvida is the home of an aluminium plant owned by Rio Tinto Alcan. Jonquière is probably best known in the United States as a result of the local Wal-Mart store which attempted to unionize and was closed down shortly thereafter. The official reason for this shutdown was "financial problems."[8]

When the city of Saguenay was constituted on February 18, 2002 by municipal amalgamation, the borough of Jonquière was created from the former city of Jonquière, the former municipality of Shipshaw, and the former municipality of Lac-Kénogami. The former city of Jonquière had a population of 54,842 in the Canada 2001 Census, the last census in which Jonquière was counted as a separate city.[9]

The Rivière aux Sables runs through the centre of Jonquière. Significant damage to the city's buildings was caused by the 1996 Saguenay Flood.


Saguenay is located in a depression in the Canadian shield called the Saguenay Graben, which has a somewhat more temperate climate than the surrounding region. This has encouraged agriculture and human settlement to take place. The relatively small and concentrated Lac St-Jean area where the city is located can be described as an isolated "oasis" in the middle of the vast remote wilderness of Northern Quebec. Few roads connect with the area from the south and east, and only one road connects from the northwest. No roads go north from the area into the wilderness; the last roads to the north end just a short distance from the city, and still within the Lac St-Jean area. There are no human settlements due north of Saguenay all the way to the Canadian Arctic islands, except for a few isolated Cree and Inuit villages. However, the remote, paved Route 167/113 heads northwest to the interior town of Chibougamau, providing access to Western Quebec and Hudson Bay. No services are available for the 230 km (143 mi) to Chibougamau from the Lac St-Jean area.

Two notable natural disasters have occurred within the current municipal boundaries of Saguenay: the Saint-Jean-Vianney landslide of May 4, 1971, and the Saguenay Flood of 1996. The 1988 Saguenay earthquake, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake on November 25, 1988, had its epicentre 35 km south of Chicoutimi and was felt within the city.


Under the Köppen classification system, Saguenay has a humid continental climate with large variation between summer and winter. The city features two brief transition seasons (spring and autumn), while summers are warm and occasionally hot, and winters are long and bitterly cold, with temperatures lower than -30°C a common occurrence. Despite its location at 48 degrees north (the same latitude as Paris), the city's winter lows are on average more than 23°C colder. Due to the continental climate, summers are only 1°C cooler than the average in Paris. The low winter temperatures characteristic of Saguenay are caused by a combination of factors, such as the cold waters of the Labrador Current and Hudson Bay to the north and east of the city.

Climate data for Bagotville — Airport (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.2
Average high °C (°F) −10.1
Daily mean °C (°F) −15.7
Average low °C (°F) −21.1
Record low °C (°F) −40.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 57.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 6.5
Average snowfall cm (inches) 66.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 19.2 15.8 15.0 14.3 15.1 14.9 16.6 15.5 16.1 16.9 19.0 20.0 198.4
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 1.7 1.7 3.7 9.8 14.8 14.9 16.6 15.5 16.1 15.4 8.6 3.2 122.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 19.1 15.4 13.1 7.2 1.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.07 3.5 13.7 19.6 92.8
Source: Environment Canada[10]


(Institut de la Statistique du Québec, 2006)

Population density (2006) 127.0/km2 (329/sq mi)
Total population (2006) 144,250 inhabitants
Net interregional migration (2005–2006) −742 inhabitants
Population projections (population changes 2026/2001) – 12.7%
Number of workers, 25–64 years (2004) 56,516
Rate of workers, 25–64 years (2004) 68.5%
Average employment income of workers, 25–64 years (2004) $39,723
Employment-assistance rate (2006) 9.2 %
Low-income rate among families (2004) 8.1 %
Per capita personal income (2005) $28,415
Total value of building permits (2006) $187,305k
Average assessed value of single-family dwellings (2006) $98,592
Standardized real estate wealth (2006) $8,245,923k
  • 98% of Saguenay's inhabitants claim French as their first language.
Census Chicoutimi Jonquière
1871 1,393 x
1881 1,935 x
1891 2,277 x
1901 3,826 x
1911 5,880 2,354
1921 8,937 4,851
1931 11,877 9,448
1941 15,975 13,766
1951 23,111 21,618
1961 31,657 28,588
1971 33,893 28,430
1981 60,064 60,354
1991 62,670 57,933
2001 60,008 54,842
Census Saguenay (city)
2006 143,692
2011 144,746

Statistics for the Census Metropolitan Area

The Saguenay Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), which also includes the municipalities of Saint-Fulgence, Saint-Honoré, and Larouche, had a 2006 population of 151,643 and is the most homogenous CMA in all of Canada.

Aboriginal status: Indigenous peoples comprised 1.7% of the population.[11]

Languages: French was mother tongue to 98.1% of residents (counting both single and multiple responses) in 2006.
The next most common mother tongues were English at 0.9%, followed by Spanish at 0.3%, Arabic at 0.2%, and Chinese, Portuguese, Atikamekw (Abenaki), German and Niger–Congo languages at 0.1% each.[12][13]

Religion: About 96% of the population identified as Roman Catholic in 2001 while almost 3% said they had no religious affiliation.
Among smaller denominations the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Methodists attracted some 0.2% each, while the Baptists, Anglicans, Muslims, United Church, Mormons and Pentecostals each accounted for about 0.1% of the population.[14]

Visible minorities: About 0.2% of the population identified as Black, 0.2% as Chinese, and 0.1% as Latin American.[15]

Immigration: The area is home to about 700 recent immigrants (i.e. those arriving between 2001 and 2006), who comprise about 0.5% of the total population. Approximately 25% of these new immigrants have come from Colombia, about 10% each have come from China and from France, and about 5% have come from the Democratic Republic of Congo.[16]

Internal migration: Between 2001 and 2006 there was a net outmigration of 4,745 people (equivalent to 3% of the total 2001 population), which included a net outmigration of 170 anglophones (equivalent to 15% of the 2001 anglophone population). Overall there was a net outmigration of 2,530 people to Montreal, 1,570 to Quebec, 545 to Gatineau, 285 to Sherbrooke, and 105 to Trois-Rivières.[17]

Ethnocultural ancestries: Canadians were allowed to identify as having one or more ethnocultural ancestries in the 2001 census. Some respondents identified more than one ethnocultural ancestry, so percentages may add up to more than 100%. The most common response was Canadian / Canadien and since the term 'Canadian' is as much an expression of citizenship as of ethnicity, these figures should not be considered an exact record of the relative prevalence of different ethnocultural ancestries. 63.4% of respondents gave a single response of Canadian / Canadien; 20.8% identified both Canadian / Canadien and one or more other ethnocultural ancestries. About 9.9% of respondents gave a single response of French / Français, while 1.7% gave a single response of Québécois, 0.5% gave a single response of Irish, 0.4% gave a single response of North American Indian and 0.3% gave a single response of Scottish.
Counting both single and multiple responses, the most commonly identified ethnocultural ancestries were:
Ethnic origin 2001
Canadian 84.2%
French Canadian/French 30.1%
Québécois 2.2%
Irish 1.6%
North American Indian 1.1%
Scottish 1.1%
English 0.9%

(Percentages may total more than 100% due to rounding and multiple responses).


Saguenay's economy[18] is in transition.[19] It is increasingly based on developing research and teaching in applied technologies for energy,[20] aluminum, boreal forest, genomics and biomedical sciences.[21]

Saguenay has three large industrial parks totaling 8,496,138 square meters of commercial facilities: five city centers and shopping centers, six shopping centers, power centers and five major commercial arteries.

In addition, Rio Tinto Alcan confirmed in December 2010 investment of 750 million dollars to upgrade its pilot plant in Jonquière AP-60.[22] The plant will be 40% more productive than the current aluminum plant. The first phase includes 38 tanks equipped with new technology, with an estimated production of 60,000 tons of aluminum per year. The first ingots should be cast in the first quarter of 2013.

According to 2010 data from the Institute of Statistics of Québec (ISQ), the per capita personal income in 2009 amounted to $ 31 677 versus $ 31 344 in 2008, a variation of 1.1%. On the other hand, the GDP of the Saguenay CMA in 2009 totaled $6 billion compared to the $9.1 billion GDP of the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean.

Cobalt Aircraft will be operating a plant in the city. On January 17, 2011 the company chose Saguenay for the assembly plant of the aircraft Co50, a high-end propeller plane on the cutting edge of technology.[23]


The city has been home to the Centre Georges-Vézina in the borough of Chicoutimi.



City boroughs
The City Hall of Saguenay.

The mayor of Saguenay is Jean Tremblay. Tremblay has served as mayor of Saguenay since the municipal merger of 2002. He was previously mayor of the now defunct city of Chicoutimi from 1997 until 2001. The governing body of Saguenay is Saguenay City Council, which consists of the mayor and nineteen city councillors. The councillors are elected from single-member districts.

The city's three boroughs are Jonquière, Chicoutimi and La Baie. Each borough is subdivided into electoral districts, with each district being represented by a city councillor. Each borough has a borough president from among their city councillors. The Jonquière borough is represented by eight councillors and its borough president is Réjean Laforest. The Chicoutimi borough is represented by eight councillors and its borough president is Jacques Fortin. The La Baie borough is represented by three councillors and its borough president is Jean-Eudes Simard.

Federal and provincial

Federally, Saguenay is part of two electoral districts. The riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, which includes the boroughs of Chicoutimi and La Baie as well as the most of the Le Fjord-du-Saguenay Regional County Municipality, is represented by Dany Morin of the New Democratic Party. The riding of Jonquière—Alma, which includes the borough of Jonquière as well as the city of Alma and parts of the Le Fjord-du-Saguenay RCM, is represented by Claude Patry of the Bloc Québécois.

Provincially, Saguenay is represented in four electoral districts. The electoral district of Chicoutimi includes the former city of Chicoutimi, and is represented by Stéphane Bédard of the Parti Québécois (PQ). The electoral district of Dubuc, which covers the part of Saguenay as well as the Le Fjord-du-Saguenay RCM, is represented by Jean-Marie Claveau of the PQ. The electoral district of Jonquière, which covers most of the borough of Jonquière, is represented by Sylvain Gaudreault of the PQ.


The city is served by the Bagotville Airport, which shares the aerodrome of Canadian Forces Base Bagotville. It operates daily flights to Montreal-Trudeau International Airport as well as flights to Quebec City and Sept-Îles. It operates seasonal flights to Cancún, Mexico, and vacation destinations in Cuba. Another airfield, Chicoutimi/Saint-Honoré Aerodrome former air force base, is located to the north of the city.

A pier in La Baie has been in operation since 2008 to accommodate cruise ships and tourists.[24][25] The project required investment of about C$33.75 million for the construction of a 370 metres (1,210 ft) wharf, a visitor center (C$5 million) and a port village.[26]

Saguenay derives power from its water resources.[27] The city owns three hydroelectric power stations, one operating in the borough of Jonquière and two others, Pont-Arnaud and Chute-Garneau, in operation since spring 2011.[28]


The francophone primary and secondary public schools of Saguenay are managed by two boards, the School Board of Jonquière, which has 11 015 students[29] and and the school board of Rives-du-Saguenay, with 11 048 students.[30] These figures include 38 primary schools, 7 secondary schools and 5 vocational training centers in the city, and institutions of neighboring municipalities of Upper and Lower Saguenay. The private elementary Apostolic School of Chicoutimi has 160 students. The Seminary of Chicoutimi has 1100 high-school students. Saguenay also has primary and secondary schools in English, with 200 students; Riverside Regional School is the responsibility of the Central Québec School Board.

At the college level, Saguenay has two colleges, located in Jonquière and in Chicoutimi, with a combined 5,500 students.[31] In addition to offering pre-university programs, and similar curricula, each of the schools has unique programs. For example, the Cégep de Jonquière offers technical training in Art and Media Technology, while that of Chicoutimi offers technical training in piloting aircraft.

The University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (UQAC) is located in Saguenay; this francophone campus of the province's network has 6500 students.[32] It provides education at university level. As the only university in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, this campus attracts students from across Quebec and la Francophonie. Located near downtown, the Chicoutimi campus includes a sports pavilion and the pavilion of the Humanities. The university has a flagship research center in Arctic ice and other conditions; departments of Forestry, Medicine, and Arts; and the center of Aluminium Technology.


Saguenay has several main components of the regional aluminum sector: the Quebec Centre for Research and Development of Aluminum (CQRDA), the Center for Aluminum Technology of UQAC (CTA), the University Centre Aluminium Research (CURAL) and college training programs and government. Saguenay has the largest concentration of expertise in North America in the field of aluminum.

In 2007, the Quebec government announced, in conjunction with Genome Quebec, Université de Montréal, the Centre for Health and Social Services and UQAC Chicoutimi, the creation of a Biobank specializing in genomics research.[32] The CSSS de Chicoutimi also specializes in research in primary care medicine and chronic illness and rehabilitation of neuromuscular disorders.


Sister cities

See also


  1. ^ Commission de toponymie du QuébecReference number 371249 of the (French)
  2. ^ a b Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l'Occupation du territoire — Répertoire des municipalités: Saguenay
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b . The census metropolitan area consists of Saguenay, Larouche, Saint-Charles-de-Bourget, Saint-David-de-Falardeau, Saint-Fulgence, Saint-Félix-d'Otis, Saint-Honoré, Sainte-Rose-du-Nord. In the 2006 census, the census metropolitan area had not included Saint-Charles-de-Bourget, Saint-David-de-Falardeau, Saint-Félix-d'Otis, Sainte-Rose-du-Nord.
  6. ^ Territorial Division Act. Revised Statutes of Quebec D-11.
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "Wal-Mart Closure Touches Off Union Debate", National Public Radio.
  9. ^ 2001 Statistics Canada Community Profiles: Jonquière
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Virage économique," Le Quotidien, 27 Août 2010, p. 10.
  19. ^ Patricia Rainville, "Une ville méconnaissable dans quatre ans," Le Quotidien, 23 Octobre 2009, p. 15.
  20. ^ François Hains, Nancy Bourgeois, « Saguenay, une ville en changement », Urbanité, automne 2011, p. 36-38.
  21. ^ Claude Côté, « Saguenay vogue vers le succès », Industrie & Commerce, Octobre-novembre 2011, p.3-5.
  22. ^ Michel Munger, « Rio Tinto Alcan lance finalement sa technologie AP60 », ARGENT, 14 décembre 2010 (texte intégral (archive))
  23. ^ "Le Cobalt Co50 sera assemblé à Saguenay," Le Quotidien 18 janvier 2011, p. 2.
  24. ^ Yves Ouellet Alain Dumas, En croisière sur le St-Laurent et le Saguenay, Les Éditions de l'Homme, 2008.
  25. ^ Saguenay, port d'escale [archive]
  26. ^ [tp://] [archive]
  27. ^ Marc St-Hilaire, « Une centrale sur la Shipshaw », Le Quotidien, Saguenay, 10 septembre 2010 [texte intégral [archive] (page consultée le 2010-09-10)]
  28. ^ Louis Tremblay, "Les trois axes de Promotion Saguenay," Le Quotidien, 27 août 2010, p. 7.
  29. ^ [archive]
  30. ^ [archive]
  31. ^ a et b [archive]
  32. ^ a b Katerine Belley-Murray, « Projet structurant à portée internationale, L'horizon infini de la biobanque », Le Quotidien, mardi 25 octobre 2011, p. 21.

External links

  • (French) Ville de Saguenay
  • (English) Saguenay Official Website (limited)
  • "Giant of the North" Popular Mechanics, December 1943, article on the crash program to create the Shipshaw hydroelectric project
  • Rio Tinto Alcan AP-60 smelting technology

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