The Saguenay is the major tributary of the St Lawrence River. Tremendously deep in places (up to 275 m (900 ft)), all sorts of marine life including whales and salmon are found in its tidal, salt water reaches.
The countryside through which the Saguenay Fiord twists and turns (sometimes between cliffs 180-300 m (590-980 ft) high) presents three quite different faces, dense forest giving way in turn to agricultural land and industrial development.By far the best - and in some parts the only - way to see the Saguenay is by water. There are cruises daily from Chicoutimi between June and September.HistoryThe Saguenay Fiord was discovered by Jacques Cartier on his second expedition up the St Lawrence in 1535/36. Having largely escaped colonization by Europeans until the mid-19th c. the sunken valley underwent its most dramatic transformation following the Second World War. Exploitation of the Saguenay for hydro-electric power led to the construction of one of the world's largest aluminum plants at Jonquière. Meat processing and paper are other industries which now play an important role in the local economy.
Every year between the end of July and October hundreds of whales congregate where the Saguenay flows into the St Lawrence. The result is a unique spectacle - and an unmatched opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures at close quarters from aboard one of the "whale-watching" boats from Baie Ste-Catherine, Tadoussac or Rivière-du-Loup. As many as ten different species of whale have been identified among those which gather here, including the huge fin whales and white whales.
Parc national du Saguenay
Parc national du Saguenay consists of three sections: Baie-Éternité, Baie-du-Moulin-à-Baude and Baie-Sainte-Marguerite. Visitors will find cabins, huts, and campgrounds within the park.The Parc national du Saguenay is known for its beautiful fjord, shorelines, and coastal landscape.
Address: 91 Notre-Dame, Rivière-Éternité, QU G0V1P0, Canada
From Rivière-Eternité a 9 km (51/2 mi.) footpath leads to the 457 m (1560 ft) high Cap-Trinité with its statue of the Virgin Mary erected in 1881. Of interest in Rivière-Eternité itself is the Parc national du Saguenay Interpretation Center.
Musee du Fjord, La Baie, Canada
Primarily an industrial town, La Baie nevertheless boasts the Musée du Fjord with worthwhile collections of ethnography and regional art treasures.The collection highlights the cultural and natural history of the fjord of Saguenay. Visitors can learn about the ecosystem of the fjord as well as the people who have contributed to the history of this area.
Attractively situated on a hill in heavily wooded country on the south bank of the Saguenay, the town of Chicoutimi more than lives up to its sobriquet of "Queen of the North".However, as of 2002, Chicoutimi merged to officially become part of the city of Saguenay.
Musée du Saguenay
Among Chicoutimi's attractions is the Musée du Saguenay-Lac St-Jean in the Cultural Center. There are comprehensive ethnological and archaeological displays of Indian artifacts, etc. as well as a collection of early 20th c. furniture.
Cathédrale de St-François-Xavier
Built in 1921 and dedicated to St-François-Xavier the Cathédrale de St-François-Xavier in Chicoutimi has a lovely painting in the transept vaulting.A magnificent view along the southern shore of the sunken valley is obtained from the Pont Dubuc which crosses the Saguenay.
Jonquière, another industrial town, has a most unusual church, Notre-Dame-de-Fatima, shaped like a wigwam.
Musee de la Nature, Ste-Rose-du-Nord, Canada
Worth seeing is the Musée de la Nature in picturesque little Ste-Rose-du-Nord. It has extensive collections of stuffed animals and wooden artifacts (magnifying glasses, witches broomsticks).