Abitibi-Temiscamingue (or Abitibi), is a sparsely populated region of Quebec that is focussed on logging and mining. Abitibi-Témiscamingue offers the visitor excellent hunting and fishing, and vast expanses of wilderness.
- 1 Rouyn-Noranda — Abitibi-Témiscamingue's capital, it is often referred to as "La capitale nationale du Cuivre" (National Copper Capital)
- 2 Val-d'Or — second economic centre of the region
- 3 Amos — town of 14,000 inhabitants, northeast of Rouyn-Noranda
- 4 Ville-Marie — the "Pearl of Témiscamingue" attracts hunters and sport fishers
- 5 La Sarre — town of 10,000 inhabitants, northwest of Rouyn-Noranda
- 6 Notre-Dame-du-Nord — on the shores of Lake Témiscamingue, home of the Lake Timiskaming Fossil Centre (museum)
- 7 Senneterre — small (pop 2950) forestry town on the Bell River
- 1 Aiguebelle National Park — a provincial park in the centre of the Abitibi region
- 2 La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve — a reserve almost the size of Montenegro that has more than 4000 lakes and rivers and two huge reservoirs; it is an excellent choice for hunting, fishing, wilderness camping, or canoe camping on more than 800 km (500 mi) of interconnecting canoe routes
- 3 Opémican National Park — Bordered on either side by Lac Témiscamingue and Lac Kipawa, the park protects a sample of the Southern Laurentians natural region covering an area of 250 km²; there is a campground with some 60 sites under tall pines
Abitibi-Temiscamingue had a population of about 146,000 people in 2011.
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 region's landscape features mixed forest to the south across the Témiscamingue area which falls within the St. Laurence watershed of southern Quebec, while boreal forest covers the Abitibi section further north in the Hudson Bay watershed of northern Quebec.
The southern part of the region has a humid continental climate, while the northern part has more of a sub-arctic climate due to its latitude and its proximity to Hudson Bay and the Arctic.
Algonquins inhabited the region when the French arrived. 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, located on the east banks of Lake Timiskaming was erected by a French merchant on Anicinabeg lands in 1720. It 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. Abitibi was annexed to the province of Quebec in 1898, while Témiscamingue had been part of Lower Canada and so was already part of Quebec at Confederation.
During the late 19th and early 20th century, agriculture and forest industries began to develop in the southern areas. 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 Great Depression. In the 1930s, jobless people were given assistance to move to undeveloped regions of the province, igniting the beginning of the second colonization flow.
The mining industry, mainly extracting gold and copper, also contributed to the growth of the region when numerous mines were opened. Mining is still the backbone of the region's economy nowadays, along with forestry and agriculture.
Despite its proximity to Ontario, Abitibi has surprisingly few native English speakers. Most people here speak French, but young people may understand and speak English. Aboriginal languages are spoken increasingly infrequently in reserves.
- From Montréal, route 117 passes through the Réserve Faunique de La Vérendrye.
- From Chibougamau, route 113 passes via Senneterre
- From northern Québec (Nord-du-Québec), route 109 passes via Amos.
- From northeastern Ontario, route 66 passes from Kirkland Lake, Ontario to Arntfield. Route 101 between Matheson, Ontario, and Duparquet, Quebec may be shorter, but it is isolated and narrow.
- From North Bay, route 63 reaches Témiscaming.
- From Temiskaming Shores, route 65 reaches Notre-Dame-du-Nord.
- Via Rail, toll-free: . Offers three weekly runs from Montreal to Senneterre station which take about 11½ hours. $82 one way.
Autobus Maheux runs daily to the principal towns and cities in the region, offering three departures daily from Montréal. The trip to Val d'Or takes 6½-7½ hours and costs about $100 one-way, to Rouyn-Noranda takes 8-9½ hours and costs $117 one-way (Sep 2019), with 20% discount on the return ticket. The same company provides service from North Bay, Ontario, (one bus per day, 7 hours, $100), and Chibougamau (one bus per day, 6 hours, $185). (Sep 2019)
Autobus Maheux runs buses between to the principal towns and cities in the region, including Rouyn-Noranda, Val d'Or and Senneterre.
History buffs can take a self-guided walking tour of the old districts of Rouyn-Noranda, which also is home to an interesting Russian Orthodox Church.
Val-d'Or, true to its name "valley of gold", offers sights related to mining which include a decommissioned mine, an operating mine, a museum, and a preserved mining village.
Abitibi-Témiscamingue offers lush forests dotted with 22,000 lakes and rivers. The Aiguebelle National Park, La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve, the Val-d’Or Recreational Forest and Opémican National Park should be your starting points for outdoor sports and recreation, like hiking, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or downhill skiing.
Rouyn-Noranda hosts festivals year-round for those interested in fireworks, emerging music, guitar music, film, and fake documentaries.
The Réserve faunique La Vérendrye (La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve), between Val d'Or and Grand Remous, is one of the largest contiguous reserves in Québec.
Aiguebelle National Park. The park is open year-round, but some services are seasonal. There are campgrounds, a convenience store, cabins and ready-to-camp sites. There are canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle board and other equipment rentals. From Val d'Or, take Route 117 N for about 65 km, then turn right on Chemin Mont-Brun; continue 22 km on a paved road and turn right onto Route d'Aiguebelle at village Mont-Brun; once through the village, turn right at the bridge on the Route d'Aiguebelle. The park entrance is 8 km from Mont-Brun. From Rouyn-Noranda, take Route 101 N and turn right on Route d'Aiguebelle at D'Alembert; once at Mont Brun, turn left on the bridge and continue on for about 8 km until you arrive to the Mont-Brun park entrance. The Visitors Centre is on Route 2 at 5 km from the entrance.
If you're going walking, skiing, snowshoeing or canoeing in the wilderness, prepare yourself — help may be a long way away, and cell phone service may be poor or not available.