Great Whale River, Quebec
Kuujjuarapik (“small great river” in Inuktitut) is the southernmost Inuit village at the mouth of the Grande Rivière de la Baleine (Great Whale River) on the coast of Hudson Bay in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. It has a population of 555 people (2001 Canada census). About 800 people, mostly Cree, live in the neighbouring village of Whapmagoostui. The community is only accessible by air (Kuujjuarapik Airport) and, in late summer, by boat. The nearest Inuit village is Umiujaq, about 160 km north-northwest of Kuujjuarapik.
Although the permanent cohabitation of Inuit and Crees at the mouth of the Grande Rivière de la Baleine only goes back to the year 1950, the two nations were rubbing shoulders in this area for a very long time; Inuit close to the coast and the Cree more in the interior lands.
In the middle of the eighteenth century a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post called Fort Richmond was built at the mouth of the Great Whale River. This was the beginning of a settlement also known as Poste-de-la-Baleine or Great Whale River. A protestant mission settled there in the 1880s. Yet it was not settled permanently, only used as a summer encampment.
During the Second World War, the American army opened a military base at the mouth of the Great Whale River, using Inuit and Cree workers. In 1955 a Mid-Canada Line radar station was built at this place. Though the radar station was not operational for long and closed in 1965, it established the foundations of the current permanent settlement.
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