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Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada

Human Occupation of the Mingan Archipelago

Cultural Heritage

Dictated by various needs, the Innu, Europeans, Acadians and Canadians came to occupy the Mingan Islands occasionally or on a permanent basis, to make use of the resources, to practice a trade, to take shelter and to reinvent themselves.

A Long Time Before Cartier...

Human occupation of the Mingan Archipelago goes back at least 2000 years. The first inhabitants, groups of American Indians, were attracted by the marine resources of this part of the Gulf and amongst other things gathered molluscs, fished salmon and hunted the seal.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Basque fished for cod and hunted whales in the archipelago. The Basque left signs of their activities on Île Nue de Mingan and Île du Havre de Mingan , which contain the remains of stone ovens used to melt whale fat.

Montagnais, French, and English...

The epoch of the French seigneurs and concessionnaires resulted in the setting up of a fur trading post on Île du Havre de Mingan . The fur trade with the Montagnais was continued under British rule and the seigneuries were handed over to merchant traders, such as the Hudson Bay Company, which ensured that there would be no human settlement on the coast shore or in the archipelago.

Historic photograph of the first lighthouse on île aux Perroquets
Old lighthouse on île aux Perroquets
©Collection histoire régionale, Société Historique de la Côte-Nord
Settlements on the Coast Shore

Around 1850, when the Hudson Bay Company lost its monopoly, villages began to spring up along the coast. New settlers came from Jersey, from French Canada and from Acadia. The archipelago islands were used by these newcomers for hunting, food gathering and for shelter. Many boats were sunk in the area, which led to the construction of two lighthouses in the archipelago, the first in 1888, on Île aux Perroquets , the second in 1915, on Petite île au Marteau .

Human occupation of the archipelago at this time was marked by a number of attempts at permanent settlements, fox breeding on Île du Havre and the setting up of a commercial shellfish trade on Île Saint-Charles . Finally, since the foundation of these villages, the Mingan Archipelago has been used as a tourist resort.