Blue Clay of the Saguenay | A Field Trip to Tadoussac, Quebec

Earlier this month, my partner Leo and I took a quick weekend getaway to Quebec.  We spent a day and a half exploring the city, which was unique and beautiful – but we were both longing to explore the natural beauty of the Saguenay Fjord. Our last day in Canada, we woke up early, grabbed a coffee and hit the road – heading Northeast to Tadoussac – as I had come to find it is a place where Beluga whales spend time all year – they are my most favorite marine mammals and I have adored them since I was a kid – and though I knew the chances were slight to see them this time of year – the landscape of the region was reason enough to visit.

We crossed to Tadoussac on the ferry that traverses across the Saguenay River, and came into a quiet summer resort town – we were told by locals that during the winter the town is inhabited by around 700 people, and increases to 10,000 in the summer months. Undeterred, we hiked through the deep snow to a park along the coastline of the St. Lawrence Bay.

Tadoussac was home to the Innu, and they called Totouskak , meaning “bosom” in reference to the landscape. Other interpretations have also been “place of lobsters”, or “place where the ice is broken” (from the Innu shashuko). Although located in Innu territory, the post was also frequented by the Mi’kmaq people in the second half of the 16th century, who called it Gtatosag (“among the rocks”)[1] Tadoussac was an important trading centre for Indigenous peoples of the north and south shores of the St. Lawrence River.

As we wandered down the coastline, we began to come across outcrops of Laurentian Gneiss – beautiful rocks striated with rainbow colors in beautiful wavy patterns. Large chunks of ice had washed up on shore, high tide leaving them above the wet sand and crashing waves. Beyond the ice that temporarily made up the landscape, we also took notice of the coastal erosion that was present along the hillsides and cliffs exposed to the ocean. At one point we reached a tall cliff, roots dangling towards the sandy beach below, trees precariously positioned on the edge of the hillside above – and beautiful blue and green clay exposed at the base of this section of land.

 

On our hike back to the car, we were far more aware of the coastal erosion happening here and upon our return home, deep dove into research about the environment of the area, it’s native peoples and climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Please visit the links below to learn more about what Quebec and the people of Tadoussac are doing to combat the effects of climate change. We look forward to visiting here again in the warmer months to observe the differences of the landscape, and hopefully see some Belugas 🙂

Tadoussac Historical References

[1]Tadoussac, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tadoussac&oldid=943005877

Canadian Museum of History

Conseil de la Première Nation Innus Essipit

Fighting Climate Change In Tadoussac

Saguenay – St. Lawrence Marine Park Management Plan

Adaptation Processes of Peripheral Coastal Tourism Communities in Québec, Canada

Fighting Together Against Erosion

Storms and Shoreline Retreat in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence 

Coastal Erosion Working Group

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