History: Events that marked the history of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

Here’s a list of events that marked our history. Sometimes they’re sad, sometimes they’re happy.  Either way, each one of them has defined who we are now. 

The great fire of 1870

For a distance of more than 160 km (99 miles) and over a surface area of 3900 km2 (nearly one million acres) Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean was in flames due to a fire that originated in Saint-Félicien. The wind, particularly strong on May 19, 1870, propagated the destructive element “faster than a horse could gallop.” Following the tragedy, 555 families were without homes and lost everything (farm, animals, harvests…) and another 146 who suffered major loss. Extending between Saint-Félicien and the Baie des Ha! Ha!, these 700 families accounted for 30% of the population. In spite of this fact, “only” 5 people had lost their lives.

The landslide in Saint-Jean-de-Vianney – 1971

The night of May 4, 1971 reminds of an important lesson to ensure a city’s proper urban planning. The village of Saint-Jean-de-Vianney was the location of a terrible landslide that left an immense 32-hectare crater. Rainwater infiltration and unstable ground claimed forty buildings and homes and resulted in the death of 31 people. The village was closed and the remaining citizens were relocated.

The flood of Saguenay – 1996

During a weekend in July, saturated clouds drenched the Saguenay region with rain that seemed like it would never end. Between July 19th and 21st, more than 260 mm of rain fell (1 cm of rain per 2 hours for 50 hours). This caused reservoirs and dams to overflow (of which some did not function properly from lack of maintenance) and flooded entire neighborhoods and villages. 50 municipalities were affected from Lac Kénogami to l’Anse-Saint-Jean. More than 16,000 people were evacuated, 500 homes were completely destroyed and 1200 others were seriously damaged. Two young children were found dead, trapped in their home’s basement that was invaded by a mudslide.

Tourism begins in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

In 1822, a steam boat named The Montagnais travelled along the Saguenay River to Chicoutimi. In our history’s early days, Chicoutimi was a simple fur trading outpost in King’s Posts. The newspaper, Le Canadien, wrote about the event in the edition published on November 6, 1822: “To a person who has only plans for pleasure, the shores of this beautiful river (Saguenay), representing nature in all its sublime and romantic beauty, offers charming scenery […].”

Culture and Heritage Events History of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

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