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The Beginning of Permanent Colonization (19th Century)

The British Conquest of 1759 barely modified the conduct of economic activities on our territory, which was regarded mainly as an endless reservoir of fur, cod and seal. A few concession-holders maintained their activities, but a growing number of English merchants settled permanently. The Hudson’s Bay Company to the West and William Richardson’s Labrador Company to the East ended up controlling trade.

The Labrador Company's failure in 1820 heralded the permanent colonization of the eastern part of the Côte-Nord. Former employees from Jersey and Guernesey (between England and France), who were familiar with the territory, settled there. They were joined by a few dozen families from the counties of Montmagny, l’Islet and Québec. Sites such as Brador, Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, Blanc-Sablon, Rivière-Saint-Paul, Bonne Espérance and Saint-Augustin were waiting to welcome the colonists. In 1862, 432 fishermen, managing 57 salmon fisheries and 36 sealing stations, could be counted in the eastern Côte-Nord.

The central part of the Côte-Nord would see Acadian communities from the Magdalen Islands settled as early as 1854: Kégaska, Natashquan, Pointe-aux-Esquimaux (the future Havre-Saint-Pierre), and English Point on Anticosti. Gaspesians from the Baie-des-Chaleurs would also found a string of villages between Moisie and Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan. And finally, Newfoundlanders also settled in Kégaska, Harrington-Harbour and Old Fort, which explains this region's current predominantly anglophone population.

In 1842, the loss of the powerful Hudson’s Bay Trading Company's monopoly on occupation of its lands would transform the landscape of the Haute-Côte-Nord. It was soon opened to forestry development, construction of many sawmills, and consequently, the necessary colonization of coastal sites for shipping wood, such as Tadoussac, Grandes-Bergeronnes and Les Escoumins.

The first "Indian Reserves" began to appear in this context of growing occupation of the western Côte-Nord’s coastal harbours and bays, coupled with the increasingly intensive exploitation of the back-country’s forestry resources. A few years after the Pointe-Bleue Reserve (1856) was founded in Lac-Saint-Jean, came the Betsiamites Reserve in 1861.

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