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Coordinates: 48°20′N 68°40′W / 48.333°N 68.667°W / 48.333; -68.667Coordinates: 48°20′N 68°40′W / 48.333°N 68.667°W / 48.333; -68.667
Country Canada
Province Quebec
Regional County Municipalities (RCM) and Equivalent Territories (ET)
 • Regional conference of elected officersMichel Lagacé (President)
 • Land22,234.10 km2 (8,584.63 sq mi)
 • Total199,977
 • Density9.0/km2 (23/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Postal code
Area code418, 581
Map of Bas-Saint-Laurent with regional counties

The Bas-Saint-Laurent (Lower Saint-Lawrence), is an administrative region of Québec located along the south shore of the lower Saint Lawrence River in Quebec. The river widens at this place, later becoming a bay which discharges into the Atlantic Ocean and is often nicknamed "Bas-du-Fleuve" (Lower-River). The region is formed by 8 regional county municipalities and 114 municipalities. In the south it borders Maine and New-Brunswick, as well as the regions of Chaudière-Appalaches and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine

It has a population of 199,977[1] and a land area of 22,234.10 km2.

The territory has seen human occupation since the Pleistocene by Natives until European colonisation started near the end of the 17th century with the concession of tenures, despite this, the development of the region was slow until it started exploiting its mixed forests, allowing it to grow and settle further inland, on the littoral and to develop a leisure industry.

Its geography is marked by the Saint Lawrence River to the northwest, the Notre Dame Mountains section of the Appalachians, as well as the Matapédia and Témiscouata valleys, which forms the natural communication corridors with the Gaspé Peninsula, Maine, and the Maritimes.

Etymology and Toponymy[edit]

The region takes its name from the Saint Lawrence River, a waterway that has a central role in the History of Quebec and forms the northern border of the region. The name of the river, and by extension the region, has a hagiotoponymic origin originating from the baye sainct Laurens named by Jacques Cartier, originating from the date of discovery being August 10 1535, day of the festival of Saint Lawrence in the christian Martyrology. The name of the bay was used again to describe the river when the Narration, his report of his expedition, was translated to Spanish and Italian, and definitively fixed by its use in the world map of cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569, according to historian Marcel Trudel.[2]

The name "Bas-Saint-Laurent", however, only appeared much later. In their Histoire du Bas-Saint-Laurent, the historians Fortin et Lechasseur assert that the relation with the Saint Lawrence grew with the population of the region in the 19th century. The first mention of the name is attributed to a report from the Rimouskois deputy and writer Joseph-Charles Taché, which used the term to describe "the two shores of the Bas-Saint-Laurent except the Gaspé district". The authors, however, write that Taché preferred most of the time to use more precise and well-known references, like the counties of Montmorency and Rimouski.[3] Even if the name of the region was present on a map made in 1863 by Stanislas Drapeau, it took time to settle in; the expression "le Bas du Fleuve" being prefered.[4]

With the settlement of Témiscouata and la Matapédia, the name start imposing itself between 1920 and 1960, when a number of enterprises and organisms of the region delimitated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rimouski and Rivière-du-Loup, like the Compagnie de transport du Bas St-Laurent and the Compagnie de Pouvoir du Bas-Saint-Laurent or the newspaper l'Écho du Bas St-Laurent adopt it.[5]

After being eclipsed for two decades when the State tried to erase regional differences by putting in place shared administrative structures east of the Québec, the start of the 1980s sees this policy change[6], as the great region Bas-Saint-Laurent-Gaspésie is split into two different territories[4], being more accurate for the distinctive cultural traditions of these regions.[6]

The evolution of the toponymy of the region takes root in the different steps of its development, with at first the initial settlement by Amerindians, followed by a progressive settlement by french-speaking colonists starting in the 18th Century, but mostly in the 19th, a small Scottish presence starting in the 1800s, with activities centered on agriculture and the exploitation of its waters and forests. The last phase of this evolution took place when some inland communities started to decline and its centers of activity were reinforced.[7]


Situation and Political Divisions[edit]

The Bas-Saint-Laurent is a region in the East of Quebec, delimitated to the north Saint Lawrence River, to the south by New-Brunswick and Maine, to the east by the Gaspé Peninsula and to the west by Côte-du-Sud.[8] It extends over an area of 28319 km2, with 22141 km2 of land area, which represents a bit less than 2% of the total area of Quebec[9], however, this area also represents 10% of the inhabited area of Quebec, or about half the land area of Switzerland.[8]

The region is dived into eight Regional county municipalities (RCM), which contain 130 municipalities[9]. Bas Saint-Laurent contained 200,462 inhabitants in 2011, of which 55,400 were in its most populous RCM, Rimouski-Neigette. Otherwise, the least populous RCM of the region is Les Basques, with only 9000 inhabitants in 2011, a number which decreased by 1,300 since 1996, making it also the RCM with the highest annual rate of population decrease of the region, with a rate of 9.6% between 2006 and 2011.[10]

Forested areas and waterways dominate the land use of Bas-Saint-Laurent. The region counts 100071 km2 of mixed forests, 4918 km2 of coniferous forests and 6177 km2 of waterways. Humid lands only covers 58 km2 and the land devoted to agriculture covers 2819 km2, while developed areas represent only 143 km2, which equals to 0,5% of the total land area of the region.[9]


Even if an isolated area of cambrian and precambrian rocks exist in a area of the Chic-Choc Mountains, the region belongs generally to the geologic province of the Appalachian Mountains, which covers an area of 3000 km2, Between Alabama and Newfoundland. The marks of two episodes of orogeny, the Acadian orogeny and the Taconic orogeny, have shaped the land.[11]

During the first orogeny, the subduction of the oceanic plate created a volcanic chain in the Iapetus Ocean, off the coast of Laurentia during the Cambrian period. The magma surfacing mixed with the sediments originating from the continental erosion and the volcanic arc of islands got gradually closer to the continent to the subduction. The two collided 450 million years ago and formed a chain of immature mountains, the Taconic Mountains, their Nappe cover a part of the Saint Lawrence Lowlands.[12]

This first zone, which follows the river today, is known as Humber's zone. Dating from the Ordovician, this bedrock is composed primarily of sedimentary rocks : sandstone, mudrocks and conglomerates.[11] South of this zone, the Gaspé belt is the remnant of a second mountain formation during the Siluro-Devonian era. Around 430 millions years ago, the Taconic moutains eroded and created sediments which deposited at a shallow depth. As Laurentia and the micro-continent Avalonia deformed and raised the sedimental deposits and volcanic rocks and created a second chain of mountains, the Acadian Chain, which superposes itself on the Taconic Chain.[12]


Inside the RCMs are important cities including:[13]

Major communities[edit]

School boards[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "(Code 2415) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012.
  2. ^ Quebec (14 February 2013). "Saint Lawrence River". Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  3. ^ Fortin, Jean-Charles; Lechasseur, Antonio (1993). Histoire du Bas-Saint-Laurent. Quebec: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture. p. 17-18. ISBN 2-89224-194-4.
  4. ^ a b "Bas-Saint-Laurent". Commission de toponymie du Québec. December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  5. ^ Fortin, Jean-Charles; Lechasseur, Antonio (1993). Histoire du Bas-Saint-Laurent. Quebec: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture. p. 19. ISBN 2-89224-194-4.
  6. ^ a b Fortin, Jean-Charles; Lechasseur, Antonio (1993). Histoire du Bas-Saint-Laurent. Quebec: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture. p. 20. ISBN 2-89224-194-4.
  7. ^ Pâquet, Christiane (1984). Itinéraire toponymique du Saint-Laurent ses rives et ses îles (in French). Quebec: Direction générale des publications gouvernementales du Ministères des communications; Commission de toponymie du Québec. p. 301. ISBN 2-551-06267-5. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  8. ^ a b Fortin, Jean-Charles; Lechasseur, Antonio (1993). Histoire du Bas-Saint-Laurent. Quebec: Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture. p. 30. ISBN 2-89224-194-4.
  9. ^ a b c Québec (July 2013). Bulletin statistique régional (PDF) (in French) (2013 ed.). Quebec: Institut de la statistique du Québec. p. 2. ISSN 1715-6971. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  10. ^ Québec (July 2013). Bulletin statistique régional (PDF) (in French) (2013 ed.). Quebec: Institut de la statistique du Québec. p. 3. ISSN 1715-6971. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  11. ^ a b Portrait régional (PDF). Quebec: Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune. 2010. p. 7. ISBN 978-2-550-59550-2. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  12. ^ a b Bourque, Pierre-André. "L'histoire de la formation des Appalaches". Planète Terre. Université Laval. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  13. ^ Geographic code 01 in the official Répertoire des municipalités (in French)

External links[edit]