Sept-Îles (Quebec French pronunciation : , French for "Seven Islands") is a city in the Côte-Nord region of eastern Quebec, Canada. It is among the northernmost locales with a paved connection to the rest of Quebec's road network. The population was 25,686 as of the Canada 2011 Census.
The only settlements on the paved road network that are farther north are Fermont, Radisson and Chisasibi, the latter two in the extreme western portion of the province at the north end of the James Bay Road. The remaining settlements at higher latitudes in the province are mostly isolated Cree, Innu, or Inuit villages, with access limited to seasonal gravel roads.
Sept-Îles is the seat of the judicial district of Mingan.
History and economy
The first inhabitants of the area were varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Montagnais or Innu people, who called it Uashat ("Great Bay"), lived there at the time of European encounter. Jacques Cartier sailed by the islands in 1535 and made the first written record of them, calling them the Ysles Rondes ("Round Islands"). He was not the first European in the area, as he encountered Basque fishermen who came annually from Europe for whaling and cod fishing.
Early European economic activity in Sept-Îles was based on fishing and the fur trade. Louis Joliet established trading posts by 1679. Great Britain took over Canada from France in 1763 after its victory in the Seven Years War. In 1842 the Hudson's Bay Company founded another post at this location. The village was incorporated into a municipality in 1885.
Lacking road access at the time, the town got its first pier in 1908. The City of Sept-Îles was incorporated in 1951, on the 300th anniversary of the first Catholic mass held in the village.
The modern Sept-Îles was built rapidly during the construction of the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway, the 357-mile (575 km) railway link to the northern town of Schefferville. The railway was built between 1950 and 1954 by the Iron Ore Company of Canada. Iron ore mined near Schefferville and Wabush, Labrador was transported on this railway and shipped from the Port of Sept-Îles. Shipment of the important new commodity resulted in investments that turned this into a major port.
With the iron ore business, the Sept-Îles deep-water seaport was second in Canada only to Vancouver in terms of yearly tonnage. The huge engineering project led to a major increase in population, and housing was quickly built to accommodate them. The town grew from 2,000 inhabitants in 1951 to 14,000 in 1961, and 31,000 in 1981. The decline in worldwide iron ore prices in recent decades has since caused employment and population to decrease.
During the early 1990s, some new jobs accompanied the construction and operation of the new Aluminerie Alouette aluminum processing plant. Construction for Phase 1 began in September 1989, and operation started in 1992. Construction of Phase 2 began in 2003.
In 2002 the city amalgamated with the communities of Gallix and Moisie. The city includes the neighbourhoods of Arnaud, Clarke, De Grasse, de la Pointe, de la Rivière, Ferland, La Boule, Lac Labrie, Matamec, Plages, Pointe-Noire and Val-Marguerite.
The Sept-Îles Airport has connections all over Quebec and Labrador. General aviation seaplanes are served by Sept-Îles/Lac Rapides Water Aerodrome. Air Gaspé was based in Sept-Îles, but acquired by Quebecair in 1973. In the 1980s, continued airline restructuring led to Quebecair being acquired by CP Air in 1986, which in turn was taken over by Canadian Airlines in 1987.