Saguenay was one of the ports we visited this past September on our 10 day New England and Canada cruise. I had never heard of it before we booked our cruise so I didn’t exactly know what to expect.
All I knew was that it would be the first of the Candian ports where French was the primary language, English the second. (It wasn’t the first of our Canadian ports, though. That honor went to Halifax.)
The French connection was very exciting for me. I have been wanting to go to France since I was eight years old. Maybe even younger than that. I’ve never been brave enough to get off my duff and make it happen, though.
But as it turned out I got to visit my first French-speaking place on my 40th birthday. It wasn’t France, but it was of French origin and that was good enough for me!
Saguenay is actually a new community. It was established on February 18, 2002 when several older townships merged together. Now La Baie, Chicoutimi, and Jonquière represent boroughs of the new town.
But don’t be mistaken. Saguenay wasn’t just born. Far from it! Tadoussac, at the mouth of the Saguenay River, was the first European community established in Canada circa 1600.
Speaking of the Saguenay River, it flows through this fjord region into the Baie des Ha! Ha!, where you’ll find the Ville de Saguenay’s new cruiseship terminal. (It was once a tender port, but now ships can dock and cruisers can walk right off the ship into town.)
WHAT LURKS IN THE PARC NATIONAL DES MONTS-VALIN?
Each day the ship gave us an “In Port” newsletter with background and details on each port. Unfortunately, Saguenay was one of the only ports I didn’t read up on before we disembarked. If I had I would’ve known to ask the locals about their winter ghosts and mummies.
Here’s the write up, as copied from my “In Port” guide, that I read after we were back on ship and sailing for Quebec City:
The Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region’s soul, Monts Valin, includes several cliffs that tower nearly 3,000 feet. A natural haven, the highlands park is popular among hiking and camping enthusiasts in summer and offers a winter haven for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ore short backcountry skiing treks in winter. Pic de la Hutte is the highest point in the park and from its summit most of the Saguenay region can be seen on a clear day. Local legend has spawned tales of “mummies” and “ghosts” that appear in winter, but they are probably only fantastic shapes formed in windswept valleys.
Since we were visiting in late summer, right before fall, we didn’t see any ghosts or mummies. Maybe now that winter has set in and snow’s covering the hills they’ve risen to roam their winter wonderland?