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Eeyou Istchee © TQ/D. Mamàn

Road to the North and the Cree nation

Visiting wide open virgin spaces and meeting the Cree nation

Located between the 49th and 55th parallels, the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James region is one of the best-kept secrets in Québec. This vast virgin territory covering 350,000 km2 possesses unsuspected natural and human wealth. This wilderness in the heart of the boreal forest, bordering the taiga and tundra on the north, is full of immense lakes, rushing rivers of crystalline waters and never-ending forests. It is home to some forty animal species, including wolves, bears, and caribous that migrate every year from Nunavik, on the northern border of the territory. And the bright northern skies and the magnificent display of the Northern lights will leave you without words!

Eeyou Istchee © TQ/D. Mamàn
Eeyou Istchee © TQ/D. Mamàn

You can fly into this isolated region, but driving the Baie-James Road provides a unique experience off the beaten path that will fulfill your taste of adventure. Not every day does one have to locate the refuelling and resupply points before taking the road! The lone paved stretch that crosses the territory from south to north over 620 km will provide a real feel for the immensity of the area and its unique features. And it will also give you access to the Cree communities of Waskaganish, Eastmain, Wemindji and Chisasibi, and their fascinating ancestral lifestyle. You will have an opportunity to discover the traditional techniques for fishing and smoking the catch, to gather rare mushrooms, to listen to the indigenous legends and to visit the first Hudson’s Bay trading post in Waskaganish. And why not attend a pow wow, that colourful indigenous celebration? Taking another road to Oujé-Bougoumou (“the place where people meet”, in the Cree language), you will discover other must sees: the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, a museum unique in its architecture, and the Nuuhchimi Wiinuu cultural camp, where you can spend the night in traditional lodgings.

Driving this mythical road in the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James region will leave you with unforgettable memories; you will feel like you have reached the end of the world! Wachiya! (Welcome!) 

Eeyou Istchee Baie-James © TQ/tourisme Baie-James/Hooké

Interesting facts

The Eeyou Istchee Baie-James territory represents one-fifth of the area of Québec, and is the size of Germany.

The region has the largest freshwater bodies in Québec, true inland seas!

Hudson Bay is, with James-Bay, the second largest bay in the world.

The territory has four town-style covered bridges, unique to Québec.

The Cree have lived in the region for thousands of years, and their lifestyle is based on hunting, fishing and trapping.

Nemaska, the name of the capital of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee, means “where the fish is abundant”.

The region houses the largest underground hydroelectric power plant in the world.

The completion of the La Grande hydroelectric complex triggered the construction of the Trans-Taiga Road, a gravel road some 660-km long.

The reservoirs of the La Grande hydroelectric complex represent the largest man-made bodies of water in the world.