Great Whale River
|Great Whale River|
|Grande rivière de la Baleine|
|- elevation||500 m (1,640 ft)|
|- location||Kuujjuarapik / Whapmagoostui|
|- elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||724 km (450 mi) |
|Basin||42,700 km2 (16,500 sq mi) |
|- average||680 m3/s (24,000 cu ft/s) |
The Great Whale River (French: Grande rivière de la Baleine) is a river in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. It flows from Lac Saint-Luson through Lac Bienville west to Hudson Bay. While lower section of the river (after Lac Bienville) has very powerful current, with many waterfalls (up to 15 metres (49 ft) or 20 metres (66 ft) in height) and rapids, upper section consists of series of lakes interconnected by steep rapids and ledges.
Both the northern village of Kuujjuarapik, whose inhabitants are mostly Inuit, and the Cree village of Whapmagoostui are situated at the mouth of the river, near the site of the former RCAF Station Great Whale River. The villages were formerly known collectively as "Great Whale River" and "Poste-de-la-Baleine."
The portion between Lake Bienville and the mouth of the Coats River has also been called Abchigamich River, but this name was dropped in 1946 by the Commission de géographie du Québec. Also, the name has often been wrongly translated into French as Rivière de la Grande Baleine (not until 1962 did the Commission de géographie du Québec officially adopt the current Grande rivière de la Baleine).
The Great Whale River was a place favored by the Cree and Inuit for hunting beluga long before the arrival of Europeans. Even though both were nomadic, the mouth of the river was often an encampment site and served as unofficial border.
The name of the river was recorded in 1744 in the logbooks of Hudson's Bay Company employees Thomas Mitchell and John Longland, while exploring the bay's coast. The entry for July 25 made the first mention of the "Great White Whail [sic] River". It may have come from the Cree Whapmagoostui, meaning River of the Whale, and referring to the hunting of white whale or beluga there.
In the early 1970s, the state-owned power utility Hydro-Québec planned to construct three hydroelectric power stations on the Great Whale River as a part of the James Bay Project. Although detailed planning for the project was only begun in 1986, opposition from Crees, Inuit, environmental organizations like Greenpeace and the Friends of the Earth and other activists led the Premier of Quebec, Jacques Parizeau, to announce in November 1994, that the project was suspended indefinitely. However, the project may still be revived in the future.
List of lakes on the upper section
- List of longest rivers of Canada
- Little Whale River - running parallel to the Great Whale River about 100 km north
- List of Quebec rivers
- Atlas of Canada
- "Grande rivière de la Baleine" (in French). Commission de toponymie du Québec. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, ch. 8.1.3, pp. 114-115.
- Honigmann, John Joseph. Social Networks in Great Whale River; Notes on an Eskimo, Montagnais-Naskapi, and Euro-Canadian Community. [Ottawa]: Dept. of Northern Affairs and National Resources, 1962.
- Johnson, William D. An Exploratory Study of Ethnic Relations at Great Whale River. Ottawa, Canada: Northern Co-ordination and Research Centre, Dept. of Northern Affairs and National Resources, 1962.
- Masty, David, Sr. 1991. "Traditional Use of Fish and Other Resources of the Great Whale River Region". Northeast Indian Quarterly. 8, no. 4: 12-14.
- Wills, Richard H. Conflicting Perceptions Western Economics and the Great Whale River Cree. [Canada?]: Tutorial Press, 1984. ISBN 0-9613076-6-8
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grande rivière de la Baleine.|
- The Atlas of Canada - Rivers
- General description, map and images
- Hydro-Québec and the Great Whale Project. Environmental/development negotiations; stakeholder analysis.
- The Great Whale River Expedition 1988
- The Great Whale River Expedition 1991
- The Great Whale River Expedition 1997
- The Great Whale River Expedition 1997 (images)
- Mojo Men of the Great Whale