It was a gray day when we docked in Sept-Îles, Quebec, but the welcome from residents was warm and friendly. A large tent with local artisans set up for business inside and music playing welcomed passengers. A dozen or more residents greeted me as I got on the bus for a panoramic tour.
Sept-Îles, or Seven Islands, is a community of beaches, lakes, and views of the St. Lawrence River.
Sailing on the Viking Expedition Cruise's Polaris allows me to explore remote and exciting destinations and meet locals offering their expertise, like our onboard tour guide.
First Nations Innu people called this area home for centuries and are still a significant cultural influence today. Basque fishermen arrived next to take advantage of the gulf's whaling and cod fishing, followed in 1535 by Jacques Cartier, who called the archipelago the "Round Islands." Fur trade began during the following century.After our tour, the community offered complimentary bus transportation to attractions and shopping. My friend Anne and I took the bus to the Old Fur Trading Post.
The establishment of a fur trading post dates back to 1661 when North America's French colony was only at its beginnings.
Located on a site that was traditionally a gathering place for the Innu people during the summer, the existing trading post is a partial reconstruction of a post that both the French and the English managed.
Archeological excavations allowed the reconstitution of the site and its most important buildings according to the 1786 plans of the then-lieutenant governor of Québec Edward Harrison the following years.
Today, the Vieux Poste is a historic interpretation site depicting life on a trading post in the 19th century and emphasizing the meeting of two cultures: the Innu and the EuroCanadian cultures.
Anne and I explored the site and chatted with two young women practicing their English in this French-speaking community.
We took the bus back to the ship and enjoyed shopping in the tent and chatting with the merchants while listening to an excellent singer.
The gray day certainly didn't damper my spirits, especially in such a delightful community.
For more information about Viking’s "Canadian Discovery" itinerary, click here.