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Foreign Occupation of the Territory before the British Conquest

The occupation of the Côte-Nord territory by Europeans and Euro-Canadians prior to the mid-19th century remained limited to fishing stations, trading posts and infrastructures related to the fur trade. However, in rare cases, seigneuries were granted to favourites in the 17th century, including Mille-Vaches (1653, near the Portneuf River) or the Mingan islets (1679) and Anticosti (1680) granted to Louis Jolliet.

In the 18th century, a large part of the eastern Côte-Nord up to Hamilton Inlet in Labrador was divided into “concessions”. These were lands rented to French merchants and civil officers for an annual return in beaver pelts or the equivalent in pounds. These establishments, devoted to the capture of seal, cod, salmon and fur trading with the Innu – and even with Inuit establishments to the East – were exploited concurrently with existing French fisheries.

An exception was the concession granted to Augustin Legardeur de Courtemanche (1663-1717), who in 1704 chose Brador Bay to establish Fort Pontchartrain. In 1722, his lands were 4 leagues by 9 leagues of oceanfront property, from the Baie du Vieux-Fort to Anse-au-Clair. The concession-holder had exclusive rights to hunt seal, and was allowed to practice the fur trade on his land. Permission to exploit whale and cod fisheries was only granted in competition with other ships that fished there.

In 1714, Courtemanche became the King’s Commander in Labrador for the Ministère de la Marine. Responsible for good management of fishing in the strait, he was to promote its expansion and encourage other forms of trade. His concession gradually assumed the appearance of a permanent colony, where approximately 100 people of French, Canadian and Native origins lived during the high season. When the establishment was transferred to his successor, Martin de Brouague, in 1740, it had a dozen buildings.

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