Tadoussac celebrated its 400th anniversary in the year 2000. An easy walk through the village conveys its rich history. Let yourself be guided by the heritage circuit that unveils the first contact between indigenous peoples and European explorers, the early days of New France and everything else that contributed to the construction of the village’s soul.
A Bit of History
At the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers, Tadoussac and its surrounding area were a meeting place and a crossroads for trade between First Nations people that have been here for 8000 years. These two major waterways enabled European explorers and traders to enter into the continent. Natives traded with Basques whalers and Breton cod fishermen as early as the 14th Century.
As he was sailing up the St. Lawrence in 1535, Jacques Cartier was taken aback by the sheer beauty of the area and dropped anchor in the bay to visit. Pierre de Chauvin built a fur-trading post in 1600, the first building in New France. In May of 1603, Samuel de Champlain sealed an alliance between the French and the First Nations near Tadoussac. It was a commercial, military and foundational agreement that would lead to the establishment of Québec City five years later.
After having lived off the fur trade, fishing and whaling, and then the forest industry, in 1864 the village built its first hotel to accommodate summer vacationers. Since then, tourism has been the pillar of local and regional socioeconomic life.
A Discovery Circuit
Among the heritage sites that can be visited, or that are simply open to the public, the Little Chapel (or the “Indian Chapel”), the Hôtel Tadoussac (or the “Grand Hotel”) and the Chauvin Trading Post are worth mentioning. The historic aspect of the dry dock is alive and well. It has been used in the same manner since 1932, the year it was built and used for the first time as a very dynamic shipbuilding yard.
Various activities from the past are referred to here and there throughout the village, particularly on interpretation panels. One such place is at Islet Point where beluga-whale hunters would meet up with fishermen and sailors. On the wharf it is easy to imagine cruise ship passengers disembarking from the famous “White Boats” for a major port of call in the village. While walking the streets of the village one can admire century-old houses.
Enjoy your visit!