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Réserve faunique Ashuapmushuan

10 unusual facts to discover

Réserve faunique Ashuapmushuan celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2022. A land of freedom and pure nature, this territory in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region is an adventure lover’s dream. A prime site for the fur trade, its past is steeped in a rich Indigenous culture that lives on in this mythical place.

Julie Audet | © Sépaq

Now, employees from the Pekuakamiulnuatsh community and the people of Québec work side by side, sharing their experience with kindness and generosity. So much so that harmony has become the order of the day: "The wildlife reserve is unique because we see the two nations working together. It's really an example of peaceful cohabitation," affirms Clifford Moar, Grandson of Thomas Moar, one of the original keepers of this ancestral land. Two very different origins can forge a future together!

Let yourself be transported into this incomparable universe by discovering 10 unusual facts about this magnificent wildlife reserve.

1. The wildlife reserve takes its name from the Montagnais word for "place where we watch for moose."

The wildlife reserve is named after Ashuapmushuan, the largest river that runs through its territory. In Innu, this word means "where we watch for moose". Over the years, many peoples have adopted this territory as their preferred hunting ground because of the quantity and quality of the furs. These lands have always had a unique character that thrills us, one and all!

2. The territory covers more than 4,487 km2.

This wildlife reserve is made up of a major communication network built around waterways. It includes over 1,200 lakes, rivers, and streams. History buffs…listen up! In bygone days, residents eagerly awaited the arrival of family members from the territories located further north along its main tributary.

Fokus Productions | © Sépaq
Yan Kaczynski | © Sépaq

3. The wildlife reserve includes a water surface area of 15,800 km2.

Lac Ashuapmushuan lies at the junction of the Normandin, Marquette, and Ashuapmushuan rivers, which run right through the heart of the wildlife reserve. These waterways have long been a privileged access route to Lac Mistissini, Lac Albanel, James Bay, and Hudson Bay. It was largely thanks to these natural attractions that Europeans arrived in the region to set up trading posts.

4. The watershed is home to a number of archaeological sites.

Numerous historical discoveries testify to the territory's early occupation, dating back to 6,500 or even 7,000 B.C. Ancient Indigenous cemeteries and celebration sites of North America's first populations can be found here.

Beside | © Sépaq
Réserve faunique Ashuapmushuan
Réserve faunique Ashuapmushuan Steve Deschênes | © Sépaq

5. The Ashuapmushuan trading post contains the remains of a former frontier post in the fur trade network.

Rivière Ashuapmushuan was one of the main routes for the fur trade and timber transport between Hudson Bay and Tadoussac. The trading post, a product of the French and English regimes, is now classified as a heritage site by Québec's Ministère de la Culture et des Communications.

6. Rivière Ashuapmushuan is one of the most important breeding grounds for ouananiche (landlocked salmon) among the tributaries of Lac Saint‑Jean.

The tributary provides an ideal habitat for this salmonid. In the Innu language, ouananiche means "the one who goes everywhere". But why? It's simple: this little salmon usually leaves the river where it was born - at around two to four years of age - to head for the waters of Lac Saint-Jean, which are richer in food. They remain there for most of their lives, before returning to their original habitat - at around four to eight years of age - to reproduce.

Réserve faunique Ashuapmushuan
Réserve faunique Ashuapmushuan © Sépaq
Réserve faunique Ashuapmushuan
Réserve faunique Ashuapmushuan © Sépaq

7. More than a place to do business: an environment conducive to love!

In the past, the Pekuakamiulnuatsh often met on routes and hunting grounds, or at summer gatherings. These gatherings were not only important for trade, but also for love and romance. A number of alliances and marriages between First Nations came to fruition thanks to these gatherings on what is now the territory of the wildlife reserve. Love is in the air right here!

8. The wildlife reserve plays host to five seasons.

In Québec, we know that every period of the year is magical! So imagine the enchantment that unfolds when life is punctuated not by four, but by five seasons. This Pekuakamiulnuatsh custom recognizes

  • Pre-spring
  • Springtime
  • Summertime
  • Autumn
  • Winter

Even today, the wildlife reserve evolves in symbiosis with nature. In the past, the summer solstice - also known as nipin - meant the return to the village and the moment of precious reunions. Now, it heralds the resumption of the outdoor holidays so eagerly awaited by Quebecers everywhere. Whatever the reason or the season, the rivers and waterways are a joy to explore!

Émile David | © Sépaq
Julie Audet | © Sépaq

9. The wildlife reserve is imbued with animal spirits.

For Indigenous communities, respect for everything around us is paramount. In this spirit, everything is recognized as interconnected:

  • The territory
  • The elements of creation (water, fire, earth, and air)
  • The different forms of life

Cherished by a vast array of hunters and anglers, the wildlife reserve has retained its soul, inspiring great appreciation for its flora and fauna. So visitors take full advantage of their stay to get back to basics and let themselves be enchanted by this abundance.

10. The tradition continues!

Jump in your watercraft and set off on an adventure! With the spirit of the coureurs des bois still omnipresent on this territory, many hunters and anglers come here to indulge in their favorite pastime. European package bear hunting, moose hunting, fishing by the day or with accommodation, small game hunting –  this former private club abounds in outdoor activities, from the first light of spring to the end of autumn.

Whatever the purpose or length of your stay, the wildlife reserve teams will welcome you with unrivalled hospitality. First Nations folk and Quebecers rub shoulders with one another, making the wildlife reserve an ideal place for exchange: "We're looking for people who simply love nature, folks who want to share their experience! After all, who can say they work outdoors the way we do today?" confides Aurélien Launière, director of the wildlife reserve.

Because beyond the sporting activities, there's a deep attachment to the Québec territories in Ashuapmushuan. This is a place to reconnect with our roots and savour the moment. After all, life is an adventure... let's live it to the fullest!

Meet Clifford Moar

Meet Clifford Moar

Grandson of Thomas Moar, one of the original keepers of this ancestral land

See the video (in French only)

Meeting with Aurélien Launière and Jérôme Bergeron

Meeting with Aurélien Launière and Jérôme Bergeron

From the Ashuapmushuan team

See the video (in French only)

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