The main attractions of the MRC of Caniapiscau are:
- its vast hinterland made up of rivers, lakes, peat bogs, forests, mountains offering unique panoramas, wild hunting and fishing sites, quad and snowmobile trails, varied wildlife and flora distinctive for its nordicity ;
- wild camping to taste the exceptional nature and enjoy outdoor adventures;
- backcountry expeditions (eg canoe or kayak expeditions, hunting (eg caribou) and fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, hiking) offered by outfitters; generally, outfitters organize seaplane flights from southern Quebec to the site of the outfitter;
- its night sky for observing the aurora borealis, stars (without light pollution) and the movement of large satellites;
- picking wild berries such as blueberries, raspberries, crowberries, red berries;
- its Nordic events (e.g. "Taïga Challenge" dog race, long snowmobile expeditions, etc.).
Towns and villages
- 1 Fermont (population 2474) is the larger of the two main settlements. It was established in 1972 to house workers for the Mont Wright Mine. A single 1.3 km-long building serves as a windbreak for the village, and houses the city hall, 500 apartments, a grocer (Métro), shops, a bowling alley, schools, hotel, and a bar.
- 2 Schefferville (population 155) is not accessible by road. Schefferville was established by the Iron Ore Company of Canada in 1954 to support the mining of rich iron ore deposits in the area. At its peak in the late 1960s, Schefferville had about 5,000 residents. But iron ore mining ceased there in 1982. Most of the 4,000 or so non-Indigenous occupants left, leaving mostly Indigenous people who had settled there in the preceding 30 years.
There was a temporary work camp from 1974-1984 during construction of the James Bay hydroelectric project:
- Caniapiscau (54°52′4.1″N 69°50′10.5″W), as a small community without a permanent population established 1974 on the north side of the Caniapiscau Reservoir. A temporary work site at the end of the 666 km (414 mi) Trans-Taiga Road (fr: Route Transtaïga), abandoned when hydroelectric development was completed. This is reachable by 4WD vehicles from the main James Bay Road; except for an outfitter's camp and floatplane base, there's basically nothing there.
- Brisay, as a waypoint, marks a fork in the road on the west side of the Caniapiscau Reservoir. There are no services.
While "Caniapiscau" is used here to identify the regional county municipality, a large hydroelectric reservoir and an abandoned former work camp also bear the name. There is no permanent population associated with these points.
Fermont and Schefferville are remote mining communities; Schefferville is linked to Sept-Îles by rail, and Mont Wright (close to Fermont) is linked to Port-Cartier by a different railway. Schefferville is not reachable by road; its mine closed in the mid-1980s when resource prices were low, but has since re-opened. The Innu reserves of Matimekosh (2016 pop. 613) and Lac-John (2016 pop. 33) are located within and beside Schefferville, respectively, while the Naskapi reserved land of Kawawachikamach (2016 pop. 601) is 15 km north of Schefferville.
Quebec Route 389 serves Fermont, continuing across a provincial boundary to Labrador City some 28 km (16 miles) distant on the Trans-Labrador Highway. With the exception of small native communities, there is little or no other permanent settlement in the region.
The west side of the reservoir is on a branch of the James Bay Road and therefore not accessible by road from Fermont, short of making a wide (and bizarre) 2760-km detour through Baie-Comeau, Tadoussac, Chicoutimi-Nord, Lac St. Jean, Chibougamau-Chapais and Matagami. (A five-province road trip from Ontario to either coast, Dryden-Victoria or Ottawa-St. John's, would be comparable in distance.)
Mostly French. Fermont is one of the northernmost French-speaking towns of any size worldwide.
Quebec Route 389 (an often-gravel road with few services) connects Baie-Comeau to Fermont, a 566 km drive which takes 6-8 hours. There is fuel and lodging (motels) at Manic 5 (km 214) and Relais Gabriel (km 317). Most of this road has no services at all, so plan carefully.
Flights to Wabush Airport (near Labrador City) depart Montreal, Quebec City and various other points in Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador.
Schefferville is not accessible by road.
A train runs north on the Quebec North Shore & Labrador (QNS&L) line from Sept-Îles through Emeril, Labrador to Schefferville, an otherwise-inaccessible mining community in northern Québec. This line is owned by three First Nations (Indigenous) groups. "Tshiuetin" means "north wind" in the Naskapi language. This line does not connect to the rest of the North American rail system.
- Tshiuetin Rail Transportation, ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Departing Sept-Îles: M Th at 08:00. Departing Schefferville: Tu F at 08:00. 10-12 hrs of spectacular scenery. Sandwiches and microwaved meals are available in a dining car. Server may not speak English or French, so brush up on your Naskapi. The northbound train stops at Emeril Jct (no services, no populated place, no mobile telephone signal) at about 15:00 and southbound at about 12:00 (Quebec time). Labrador City is a 45-minute drive on Highway 500 from Emeril Jct, so you should have transportation arranged to meet you. $175 round trip ($115 for Indigenous persons).
- 1 Schefferville Airport (YKL IATA).
- Air Inuit, toll-free: . It flies M-Sa from Montreal (starting at $1900 roundtrip) to Quebec City (starting at $1800 roundtrip) to Schefferville. On M W F this flight continues on to Kuujjuaq (starting at $725 roundtrip from Schefferville) and four other settlements in Nunavik. There are 1 or 2 flights a day from Sept-Îles (1½ hr, from $1300 roundtrip). On Sunday, the flight continues to Kuujjuaq. (All fees and taxes included in prices shown.)
As there is no road, traffic from Fermont to Schefferville must pass through Labrador by rail ("Emeril" is a flag stop where the line crosses the Trans-Labrador Highway with no populated place and no services) or by air (from Wabush airport near Labrador City).
There is a taxi in each village:
- Taxi Liaison Fermont, 3 rue Tilly, Fermont, ☏ .
- Taxi Porlier, 524 Ruth St, Schefferville, ☏ .
Caniapiscau is home to the huge Caniapiscau Reservoir, the largest body of water in Quebec. It was named after Lake Caniapiscau that was flooded in 1981 due to the formation of the reservoir.
Various outfitters sell fishing expeditions (northern pike, walleye, lake trout and brook char/speckled trout) and caribou hunting expeditions. Most of these operations are based outside the region and fly the visitor in to a remote off-grid location; a few fly from Schefferville to some otherwise-inaccessible point.
- Défi Taïga, 130, rue le Carrefour, Fermont, ☏ , . March. A 200-km sled dog race through boreal forest as part of the Taïga Festival of Fermont. This is the longest dog sled race in Eastern Canada.
Fermont's windbreak building has a grocer (Métro), a liquor store, and other shops and services.
- L'Authentique Bistro, In the centre commercial, ☏ .
- Casse-croûte de l’aréna, In the Fermont arena, ☏ . Snack bar open September-April
- , 401, le Carrefour, ☏ . Sunday breakfast Sep-Jun: 08:00-12:00
- Dyailo Restaurant, 299 le Carrefour, Fermont, ☏ .
- Cantine Chez Rita's, 120 Val-Gregoire, Schefferville, ☏ .
- Restaurant Blabla, Schefferville. Restaurant that mainly serves fast food like poutine, pizza and hamburgers.
- Resto-Bar Zonix, In the centre commercial, Fermont, ☏ . Su-F 11:00-21:00. Restaurant, bar food.
- Hôtel Fermont, 299, rue le Carrefour, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Inside the main building in the town. $155 double.
- Association loisir plein air de Fermont, 300, rue des Lagopèdes, ☏ . Camping open during the summer
- Rodeway Inn Schefferville (Hotel Innutel), 300 Wishart, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 12:00. Close to the Schefferville Airport, overlooking Lake Knob. Hot breakfast included, wireless high-speed Internet, airport transportation. Also, free parking on premises, which isn't a big perq since there is no road into Schefferville. From $200.
- Hôtel Auberge Guest House, 550 Star Creek, ☏ . Also very basic. Rooms are over $200/night, breakfast included. A table d'hôte dinner is available by request only (a day or more in advance); a $30 flat rate includes soup, salad, main course and dessert. Bottles of wine are $30.
At all times, visitors to remote areas must plan to be independent in terms of travel, accommodation, food, repairs, first aid, communication (e.g. satellite phones, geolocation) and general safety, depending on the activities practiced on land or at sea.
In summer, visitors should take special precautions against insects, rain; in winter, protect yourself from the cold and storms by finding out about available refuges or by travelling with an experienced guide. Sometimes fog can occur and be prolonged.
|Routes through Fermont|
|Goose Bay ← Labrador City ←||NE S||→ Baie-Comeau → END|