Abitibi-Témiscamingue is a region located in western
Quebec, Canada, along the border with Ontario. It became part of the province in 1898. It has a land area of 57,674.26 km2 (22,268.16 sq mi). As of the 2006 census, the population of the region was 143,872 inhabitants.
The land was first occupied about 8 000 years ago by the
Algonquins. The first land expeditions were made in 1670 by Radisson as part of the development of the fur tradeindustry across the Hudson Bayregion and through most of the New Francecolony. Fort Témiscamingue, located on the east banks of Lake Timiskamingand erected by a French merchant on Anicinabeg lands in 1720, was an important crossroads of the fur trade along the Hudson Bay trading route.
Until 1868, Abitibi was owned by the
Hudson's Bay Company; it was then purchased by Canada and became part of the North-West Territories. After negotiations with the federal government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Abitibi was annexed to the province of Quebec on June 13, 1898by a federal decree. For its part, Témiscamingue had been part of Lower Canadaand so was already part of Quebec at Confederation.
The region started to develop during the late 19th and early 20th century, with the development of agriculture and forest industries. This began in the southern areas, leading to the foundation of Ville-Marie in 1886 and Témiscaming in 1918. However, the greatest wave of colonization occurred between
World War Iand World War IIwhen a large population came from urban centers due to the effects of the Great Depression. In the 30s, federal and provincial plans such as the Plan Vautrin and the Plan Gordon incited jobless residents to move to undeveloped regions of the province, igniting the beginning of the second colonization flow.The first migration flow brought people to the northern part of the region along the National Transcontinental Railway, leading to the establishment of towns such as La Sarre in 1917 and Amos in 1914, as well as other infrastructure as the internment camp at Spirit Lake for so-called enemy aliens arrested under the " War Measures Act" during World War I.
miningindustry, mainly extracting goldand copper, also contributed to the growth of the region when numerous mines were opened. New cities were created, such as Rouyn-Norandain 1926 and Val-d'Orin 1934, and mining is still the backbone of the region's economy nowadays with forestry and agricultural.
The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region is the fourth largest region of the province after the
Nord-du-Québec, Côte-Nordand Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jeanregions. It has a total area of 65,000 km2. Its largest cities are Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d'Or.
The region's landscape features
mixed forestto the south across the Témiscamingue area while boreal forestcovers the northern section.
The region, like more southerly regions, has a
continental humid climate, but has much higher temperature variations due to its latitude and its proximity to Hudson Bayand the Arctic.
The Aiguebelle National Park is the only National park of the region, which is located in the center of the Abitibian region and intents to protect natural heritage.
The region's workforce has one of the highest percentages in the primary sector of any region of Quebec, with near 1 out of 6 employees working in that sector. The
miningsector is the most important economic activity of the region. Despite recent declines in workforce, agricultureand forestindustries still contribute significantly to the region's economy.Economic activities are mainly dedicated to exportation products, and are even closely linked to the Middle North region in its development through hydroelectrical and mining projects, and through exchanges with First Nation northern communities.
Sportive tourism, including winter sports, fishing, hunting and cycling competition, is also a significant economic sector even if negligible by comparison with industrial sector.
Colleges and Universities
The region is home of one university: UQAT - the
Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, part of the Quebec public university network with its main campus at Rouyn-Noranda, a campus dedicated to the first nations at Val-d'Or and several branches in differents cities of the region.
Cégep de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Architecture and Urban Planning
Because of its history and its development, regional urban planning and architectural landscape are quite contrasting, showing two main typologies of development.
Rural and agricultural settlement
The agricultural development of northern Abitibi and the northern part of Temiscamingue by a relatively homogeneous population of French Canadian catholic settlers has introduced a mainly rural land development. There, small towns, gravitating around a low density node generally composed of a wooden Roman catholic church, an elementary school and few houses spread over the territory, according to a orthogonal division on the land, with rectangular parcels. Those small towns are gravitating themselves around a larger city, as La Sarre, Amos, Macamic and Ville-Marie, where major institutional equipments are established. If small towns might seem more or less vernacular, major cities are often more planned and influenced by Anglo-Saxon urban planning, with sometime an orthogonal grid with lane network.Because of their central location, main architectural elements are also on those cities. For instance, Ste-Thérèse d’Avila cathedral in Amos is one of the most outstanding architectural element of the region by its size and its Romano-Byzantine style, standing on the upper part of the city, and being at a symbolic central location of the region. However, if the cityscapes are often more various, the rural landscape features more local particularities. The wooden farms and barns built according to many vernacular forms, the fieldstone churches and the several wooden houses with locally so-called “Canadian Roof” (steep roof ending with long curved overhang covering a front balconies) are widespread.Boom Towns and industrial cities
Southern Abitibi and the city of
Temiscamingestablished later and for industrial concerns, follow a quite different organisation. As they grew up often very quickly, the urban planning of these industrial cities is often eclectic. Val-d’Or’s and Rouyn-Noranda’s initial boroughs for instance, are both built according to two different schemes; an industrial and planned borough built and planned by the mine, and a “Boom Town” borough built suddenly with minimal planning for the thousand of peoples who arrived attracted by the effervescence of the gold rush. Bourlamaque mining village is a remarquable example of mine's planned borough still visible today in Val-d'Or, with its log houses for workers orderly settled between the mine and the commercial streets, this, at a glace from the foremen’s houses and the hospital. Noranda has been also built according to that scheme, however, the other great example of industrial town is Temiscaming.Temiscaming Garden Cityplan, designed by Scottish architect Thomas Adams(1871-1940) was one of rare examples in Quebec of mono industrial city where a company planned and endeavoured to grant comfort of its workers. There, dwelling, and even the plan, which follows the shape of the hill, was not alone to grant this comfort, elements as Italian renaissance fountain, landscaping were also included into the cityscape.Those cities, and many other industrial cities of that part of the region contrast with the rest of the region, and even generally with the other country regions of the Quebec province. Mining industry being mainly lead by Anglo-Saxon owners in the early 20th century, towns even show more similarities with Ontarian industrial cities than Quebec’s cities. Added to North-American modernity concerns of the 30’s and 40’s, streets are broader and have numeric names, blocks are orthogonally organised with lanes where Boomtown buildings with their peculiar facades are aligned along the main streets while residential buildings take place nearby. Many mining cities disappeared or have decreased since, but their industrial core often keep being seenable today. Duparquet, and Cadillac for example have kept their Boomtown appearance, through their street organisation, even if the industrial and population exodus gave them a look of oversized village.Moreover, the multi-cultural settlement of those towns, brought many singular architectural elements. Then, Russian Orthodox and Catholic Ukrainian church in Val-d’Or and Rouyn have been built, adding to the omnipresent architectural eclecticism. Nowadays, also confronted to urban sprawl, those cities tend to develop in a very low density and functionalistic way, as other Quebec and North American cities, while some great buildings dominate the architectural landscape, as the Rouyn-Norandacampus of the Université du Québec, which could be seen by many aspects, as the greatest element of contemporary architecture of the region.
The region hosts the yearly Tour de l'Abitibi, which first took place in
1969, and which is still the only North American stopover point of the International Cycling UnionJunior World Cup. Abitibi-Témiscamingue also hosts a long segment of the Route Verte, the most extensive bicycleand multiuse recreational trailin North America. [http://www.routeverte.com/rv/ang/index.lasso]
No professional league sports team are based in Abitibi. It is home to two
Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagueteams: the Val-d'Or Foreursand the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
* [http://www.abitibiTémiscamingue.gouv.qc.ca/ Portail de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue] Official website
* [http://agora.qc.ca/mot.nsf/Dossiers/Abitibi-Témiscamingue Profile of the region]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.