Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay

Portrait of the park

History of Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay

Starting in the 1970s, the Québec government began acquiring land in view of protecting the banks of the fjord. In the fall of 1982 public hearings were held to present the purpose, boundaries, zoning, and the development plan for the new park. After these hearings, land acquisitions continued to group together and protect sites of national interest under the same status.

Finally, on June 8, 1983, the park was created and designated as a conservation park, the fourth of its kind in the Quebec network. Such a classification consecrated the special vocation of this land, representative of one of Québec’s natural regions, of which the fjord is a unique element at this latitude. Today, like all the parks in the network, the park has abandoned the status of conservation park in favour of the status of national park.

In 1984, the governments of Québec and France signed an agreement for twinning Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay and Parc national des Cévennes in France. This agreement was a result of the desire to involve park managers and people in surrounding communities in joint efforts to preserve natural and cultural heritage.

The Park’s Natural Heritage

The Fjord: A Glacial Valley Invaded by the Sea

Majestically encased in the hollow of two mountain massifs, the Saguenay Fjord flows from St-Fulgence to Tadoussac. This glacial valley is the result of a collapse that occurred over 175 million years ago. It was deepened and polished by glaciers and then it filled with sea water. One hundred km long and 2 to 3 km wide, this unique geological element is among the longest and southernmost fjords in the world!

A Cocktail of Fresh and Salt Water (Hydrology)

The waters of the fjord are characterized by the superposition of two layers of water. Surface freshwater flows mainly from Lac Saint-Jean. Salt water from the St. Lawrence River makes up the deep layer, which constitutes 93% of the water mass. The tides, which can reach up to 6.5 m in amplitude, rise twice a day. They are therefore called “semi-diurnal”.

Plant All Its Forms!

In the heart of a balsam fir-yellow birch forest, conifers dominate the landscapes of Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay. While arctic-alpine flora grows on the park’s highest peaks, some hardwood stands grow in the valleys. A few bold species even manage to take root in the thin substrate of the cliffs along the fjord! There is definitely nothing ordinary about the park’s flora!

An Area Teeming with Life!

The sequence of forest and marine environments creates biological diversity. While wolves, black bears, Canada lynx, beaver and moose live in the park’s forests, seals, beluga whales, minke whales and other marine animals can be observed from the shore. In the fall, when anadromous brook trout return from salt water to spawn in fresh water, the Tadoussac area comes alive with a wealth of migratory birds on their way south

Species to Protect

On this territory where life takes shape in many different ways, certain species command particular attention. Some pairs of Peregrine Falcons, the animal emblem of the park, nest in the cliffs by the fjord, where uncommon ferns grow discreetly, along with vulnerable carex. An orchid without chlorophyll, the striped coralroot is also among the protected plant species. At night the air is filled with 7 bat species, 4 of which have protected status.

The Cultural Heritage of the Park

Amerindian Occupation

Remains found on the park’s territory attest to a human adventure several thousand years old. Even before the arrival of the first great explorers, these Aboriginal populations came into contact with the Basques, who had come from Europe to hunt whales. The Amerindians called the fjord PITCHITAOUITCHEZ, which means, “that which flows between two mountains”.

The First Europeans

When Cartier arrived in 1535, he renamed the fjord with its current name: “Saguenay”. In 1603, Champlain ventured onto this mythical waterway. He also made an important agreement with the Amerindians. Tadoussac would quickly become a trade crossroads. The fur trade would be at the heart of the region’s economy for many years.

Land Use

The Saguenay opened to colonization in 1838. Between 1840 and 1920, each of the fjord’s small bays received, at one time or another, a sawmill. The harvesting of Bas-Saguenay resources was intensive, but land occupation was ephemeral. The decline of the lumber industry, the depletion of pine forests and the rugged topography were all factors that discouraged people from settling in the area. This situation explains the area’s current wild and natural character.

Did you know?

The Park in Numbers

Year established: 1983
Area: 328.6 km2
Perimeter: 440 km
Annual attendance: 128,000 visit-days

Lists of Species

(in French only)

Amphibians and reptiles

Species at risk



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