TursujuqTursujuq

​​​​​​​​Covering 26,107 square kilometres, the parc national Tursujuq is the largest in the province. It’s located near the shores of the Hudson Bay, near the Inuit community of Umiujaq. Traces of human activity dating back 3,000 years have been found in the area, as well as evidence of Inuit and Cree trading posts.


Experience the captivating beauty of this immense territory and cultural crossroads, defined by the spectacular Hudson cuestas, Lac Tasiujaq with its brackish tidal waters which are a haven for seal and beluga, and Lac Wiyâshâkimî, a double meteor impact basin and the second largest natural lake in Québec.

Parc national Tursujuq
C.P. 2205
Umiujaq (Quebec)
J0M 1Y0
819-331-5454

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Thousands of years of human occupation

The ancestors of the Inuit and Cree first occupied the region some 2,800 years ago. In the 18th century, hunters explored the area and set up camps near Tasiujaq Lake, Little Whale River and Great Whale River. Since the Cree and Inuit had such different lifestyles, contact between the two groups was limited; the Inuit preferring to hunt marine animals along the coast and the Cree remaining inland, where there was more forest cover.

The fur-trade era

The Hudson Bay Company arrived to North America in 1670, ushering in an era of unprecedented change for the aboriginal peoples of James Bay and Hudson Bay. Because of the fur trade, the economy now revolved around trapping, meaning new routes were cut throughout the land. Trading posts became the new centres of activity. Interestingly, however, the Hudson Bay Company didn’t establish contact with the Inuit until the 1840s.

Over the years, various trading posts were set up on Cairn Island, the Little Whale River and on the south shore of Tasiujaq Lake. In addition to the fur trade, whale hunting was also a very important activity at the Little Whale River post. Several buildings from the former George Papp trading post are still standing at the Tasiujaq Lake site, while Cairn Island is home to several archeological sites, such as Fort Richmond.

Host villages: Umiujaq and Kuujjuaraapik

The parc national Tursujuq is in Umiujaq’s back yard. Established in 1986, this village is still very young. It was created following the negotiations that led up to the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975. The Inuit had requested that a new community be built north of Kuujjuaraapik, given the proximity of the Great Whale River hydroelectric project. Nearly one third of the Inuit from Kuujjuaraapik moved to Umiujaq in 1986. Today, some 450 people live there, of which 36% is under the age of 15. Here, the native language is Inuktitut and subsistence activities are still central to the way of life. Most hunting and fishing takes place in the Tasiujaq Lake area, and the primary catches are marine mammals, caribou, red grouse, waterfowl and fish.

The Kuujjuaraapik-Whapmagoostui community is located at the mouth of Great Whale River, on the North shore. Two communities, one Inuit and one Cree, live here. Kuujjuaraapik means “small big river” in Inuktitut and Whapmagoostui means “river with belugas” in Cree. Sitting in the heard of sand dunes, Kuujjuaraapik is Nunavik’s southernmost community.

One of the secondary host villages is Inukjuak. This village makes extensive use of the Nastapoka River area for both traditional and cultural activities. This is one of Nunavik’s largest communities, with more than 1,600 inhabitants.

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The foremost goal of the parc national Tursujuq is to provide protection for a representative portion of the Hudson cuestas and plateau.

The cuestas

Along the coast that runs between Umiujaq and Little Whale River, you’ll find Quebec’s most extensive system of cuestas. The ridges are made of rock strata, all angled in the same direction, and highly erodible consolidated sediment covered in a more resistant layer. The cuestas were caused by erosion along fault lines, which gave rise to this asymmetrical relief. The Hudson cuestas create a very unusual landscape, not unlike the canyons found in the American Wild West. From their peaks, visitors can appreciate just how vast the Hudson plateau is – not to mention Hudson Bay itself. The cuestas are also home to several species of birds of prey.

The Goulet

The Goulet connects Tasiujaq Lake to Hudson Bay. Its current is very strong, creating polynya, gaps in the ice. Various marine mammals rely on these openings to breathe in winter. A wide variety of plants and wildlife live in the gulf, which is also an important habitat for some rare and endangered species. Anyone visiting the area must tread carefully and be sensitive to the environment.

Wiyâshâkimî Lake

About 287 million years ago, two meteors struck this area, deforming the earth’s crust and creating two round basins, one next to the other. With a surface area of 1,226 square kilometres, Wiyâshâkimî Lake is Quebec’s second-largest natural lake.

Wildlife

According to wildlife distribution maps, this area is home to 38 mammal species, 131 bird species and 42 fish species.

The beluga population that lives on the east side of Hudson Bay is currently being studied. The Nastapoka and Little Whale River are two major estuaries where the belugas can be observed from mid-July to late August, when summer ends. Fewer belugas are making their way to the Tasiujaq Lake, but those that do gather in Kilualuk Bay.

The maritime portion of the study includes three seal species, one of which is found more than 150 kilometres inland! They are the unique Lacs des Loups Marins freshwater seals, whose numbers are estimated to be less than 500.

Land mammals – such as caribou, moose, black bears and several other smaller creatures – can be seen in the park. The land is also home to wolverines, an endangered species in Quebec, and Canadian lynx.

The park is also within the migration corridor of the Canada and snow goose, and many even stop here for a rest. Certain at-risk species, like the harlequin duck, Barrow’s goldeneye, golden eagle and bald eagle are found here.

Both saltwater and freshwater fish live in Tasiujaq Lake. The Arctic and brook char compete for habitat here, though the brook char dominates most of the lake’s tributaries. Interestingly Nastapoka River is home to a population of Atlantic salmon; it’s the only one of its kind on the east coast of Hudson Bay.

American toads and wood frogs have been spotted in the Tasiujaq Lake area. Four other amphibians live nearby, including the blue-spotted salamander, and one reptile, the garter snake.

Plants

People began exploring the plants in this area toward the end of the 19th century. The Centre d’études Nordiques, which is particularly interested in the Tasiujaq and Wiyâshâkimî Lakes, has collected thousands of samples here. Their annotated listing includes more than 500 species. Boreal species make up two thirds of the plants found in this region. Due to their climactic and topographic characteristics, as well as the abundant Arctic taxons found here, the cuestas and some of the islands in Tasiujaq and Wiyâshâkimî Lakes are considered Arctic enclaves.