Friday, May 6, 2011

Fort Rupert, or Waskaganish in Cree

Photo: The Rupert River, courtesy of The Dominion

Waskaganish, also called Fort Rupert, was founded in 1668 in northern Quebec by the recently formed Hudson Bay Company (est 1760). This was the first European settlement in the Far North.

This name has changed with the vicissitudes of history. The founder of the original settlement, the Sieur de Groseilliers.

Between 1686 and 1713, it was controlled by the French and called Fort-Saint-Charles. The Bay company re-established a post in 1777 named Fort Rupert. From the late 1700s to the early 1900s, Waskaganish-Fort Rupert remained a busy trading centre where canoe brigades came and went.

In 1974, Hydro Quebec began a series of hydroelectric dams that would eventually generate about half the province's electricity. Called the James Bay project, this initiative brought the government into conflict with the Cree and Naskapi, whose lands and lives would be impacted dramatically.

In 2002, the Quebec government and the Grand Council of the Crees signed agreements on environmental rules for the construction of further hydro dams involving the Rupert River.

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