Place:Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec, Canada

TypeAdministrative region
Coordinates48.23°N 79.02°W
Located inQuébec, Canada     (1898 - )
See alsoAbitibi, Québec, Canadahistorical county forming the region
Témiscamingue, Québec, Canadahistorical county forming the region
Contained Places
Historical county
Témiscamingue ( 1982 - )
Regional county municipality
Abitibi RCM ( 1983 - )
Abitibi-Ouest RCM ( 1982 - )
La Vallée-de-l'Or RCM ( 1981 - )
Témiscamingue RCM ( 1981 - )
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Abitibi-Témiscamingue (French pronunciation: ​[abitibi temiskamɛ̃ɡ]) is an administrative region of Québec, Canada located along the border with the province of Ontario. It became part of the province in 1898. It has a land area of 57,674.26 km2 (22,268.16 sq mi). The region is divided into five regional county municipalities (French: municipalité régionale de comté, or MRC) and 79 municipalities. Its economy continues to be dominated by resource extraction industries. These include logging, mining all along the rich geologic Cadillac Fault between Val d'Or and Rouyn-Noranda, as well as agriculture.

The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region is the fourth largest region of the province after the Nord-du-Québec, Côte-Nord and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean regions. The region, like more southerly regions, has a humid continental climate, but has greater temperature variations due to its latitude and its proximity to Hudson Bay and the Arctic. For a map of the regions of Quebec, see the article in Wikipedia.



At the arrival of the French settlers in the 17th century, Algonquins inhabited in the region. The first land expeditions were made in 1670 by Radisson as part of the development of the fur trade industry across the Hudson Bay region and through most of the New France colony. Fort Témiscamingue was located on the east banks of Lake Timiskaming and erected by a French merchant on Anicinabeg (a First Nation Band) lands in 1720. This 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, 1898 by a federal decree. For its part, Témiscamingue had been part of Lower Canada and so was already part of Quebec at Canadian Confederation in 1867.

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 the town of Témiscaming in 1918. However, the greatest wave of colonization occurred between World War I and World War II when a large population came from urban centres due to the effects of the Great Depression. In the 1930s, 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 Canadian War Measures Act during World War I.

The mining industry, mainly extracting gold and copper, also contributed to the growth of the region when numerous mines were opened. New cities were created, such as Rouyn-Noranda in 1926 and Val-d'Or in 1934, and mining is still the backbone of the region's economy nowadays, along with forestry and agriculture.

Research Tips

French names for places

Because French is the one official language of Québec, WeRelate employs the French names for places within the province. Many placenames will be similar to their counterparts in English, with the addition of accents and hyphens between the words. The words "Saint" and "Sainte" should be spelled out in full. Placenames should be made up of four parts: the community (or parish, or township, or canton), the historic county, Québec, Canada. You may find placenames red-linked unless you follow these conventions.

Local government structure

The Province of Québec was made up of counties and territories. Counties in Québec were established gradually as the land was settled by Europeans. Each county included communities with some form of local governement (often church-based). Territories referred to the undeveloped sections under the control of the government in charge of the whole province at the time. The communities included townships and/or cantons, depending on the English/French makeup of the county concerned, and also included ecclesiastical parishes with somewhat different boundaries which could overlap with local townships or cantons. Ecclesiastical parish registers have been retained and are available to view (online through Ancestry). Since the 1980s many small townships and parishes are merging into larger "municipalities", often with the same name as one of their components.

Beginning in 1979 the historic counties of Québec were replaced by administrative regions and regional county municipalities (abbreviated as RCM in English and MRC in French). Regional county municipalities are a supra-local type of regional municipality, and act as the local municipality in unorganized territories within their borders. (An unorganized area or unorganized territory is any geographic region in Canada that does not form part of a municipality or Indian reserve. There is a list in Wikipedia.) There are also 18 equivalent territories (TEs) which are not considered to be RCMs. These are mostly large cities with their suburbs, but include 4 very large geographical areas where the population is sparse.

The administrative regions (above the RCMs in the hierarchy) are illustrated on a map in Wikipedia. The regions are used to organize the delivery of provincial government services and there are conferences of elected officers in each region. The regions existed before the change from historic counties to regional county municipalities.

The above description is based on various articles in Wikipedia including one titled Types of municipalities in Quebec

NOTE: WeRelate refers to Québec communities as being within their historic counties because this is the description which will be found in historical documents. FamilySearch and Quebec GenWeb follow the same procedure. However, it is always wise to know the current RCM as well in order to track these documents down in local repositories and also to describe events which have taken place since 1980.

Because the former or historic counties and the modern regional county municipalities can have the same names but may cover a slightly different geographical area, the placenames for Regional County Municipalities or "Territories Equivalent to regional county municipalities" are distinguished by including the abbreviation "RCM" or "TE" following the name.

Historic counties (which were taken out of use in about 1982) were made up of townships or cantons. The two words are equivalent in English and French. Eventually all the Québec cantons in WeRelate will be described as townships. Many townships disappeared before 1980 with the growth of urbanization.

If the word parish is used, this is the local ecclesiastical parish of the Roman Catholic Church. Parish boundaries and township or canton boundaries were not always the same.

The WeRelate standard form for expressing a place in Québec is township/canton/parish, historic county, Québec, Canada,
or local municipality, administrative region, Québec, Canada for places established after the changes of the 1980s.

Other Sources

  • FamilySearch Wiki Information for the province and for indivdiual counties, and places within counties.
  • The Drouin Collection: explaining its history and purpose in a FamilySearch Wiki article
  • The Drouin Collection provided by and (pay websites).
  • Genealogy Quebec in French, the website of the Drouin Institute. (also a pay website) with more databases than are on Ancestry.
  • Quebec GenWeb (English version--for the most part)
  • The Quebec Familiy History Society is the largest English-language genealogical society in Quebec. Most of their services are members only, but their Bulletin Board has useful tips for everyone. These may change from time to time.
  • La Mémoire du Québec online. Édition 2017. "Le dictionnaire des noms propres du Québec." In other words, an up-to-date gazetteer of places in Québec organized as a wiki. Each entry is a timeline.
  • Eastern Townships of Quebec Connector. A blogpost with links to many websites dealing with Quebec genealogy, particularly for those who don't speak French well. All parts of Quebec are mentioned.
  • Google "translate French to English" for those words and phrases you can't quite remember from schooldays.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Abitibi-Témiscamingue. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.