Meaning: Which resembles a boat
It is at the foot of a hill resembling an overturned umiaq (traditional Inuit walrus-skin boat) that Umiujaq was established. The landscape around the village is splendid and varied. Exploration is particularly enjoyable by foot as the mountainous surroundings are well drained with only a few lakes.
Richmond Gulf (Tasiujaq), located 15 km east of the village, is an immense inland bay. It is joined with Hudson Bay by a rocky, glacier-polished gulch, named the “Goulet,” which resembles a canyon. Due to the strong current, the passage does not freeze even in winter. The western shores of the Gulf are bordered by beaches and remarkable cliffs. The many rivers flowing into the Gulf make its water brackish but a healthy habitat for brook trout and whitefish, seal and beluga. This sheltered maritime environment also nurtures scattered black spruce and larch, defying the surrounding tundra. On the south shore, there can still be seen the remnants of an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post.
From the cliffs of Richmond Gulf, there is a spectacular view to the west of Hudson Bay and the nearby Nastapoka Islands. Many species of birds, such as common loons, eider ducks and peregrine falcons, find summer shelter and nest here. Like the Manitounuk Islands near Kuujjuarapik, the Nastapoka are, in geographical terms, cuestas. The abrupt, rocky cliffs plunge into Nastapoka Sound, where the water can reach 110 m deep. Only 30 km to the north of Umiujaq is the Nastapoka River which possesses a scenic 30-m-high falls. The river estuary is an extraordinary place for anglers and hikers, alike.
Located about 160 km north of Kuujjuarapik, Umiujaq was established in 1986. In light of the La Grande hydro-electric project and the proposed Great Whale hydro-electric project, Inuit negotiated a clause into the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement that provided for the relocation of Inuit from Kuujjuarapik to the Richmond Gulf. In 1982, by way of referendum, they opted to create a new community where they could preserve their traditional lifestyle in an area where fish and game were not threatened. After numerous archaeological, ecological and land planning studies, construction of the little village of Umiujaq began in the summer of 1985 and ended in December 1986. During the construction period, Inuit from Kuujjuarapik, who had decided to relocate to Umiujaq, lived in tents in the area of their future community.
Clearwater Lake: third largest natural lake in Quebec
Seal Lake and Lower Seal Lake: support a population of seal adapted to fresh water
Collection of traditional tools and household items as well as artefacts found during the archaeological excavations prior to construction of the village: displayed at the offices of the municipal council.
Source: Nunavik Tourism Association