Eeyou Istchee Baie-James, Quebec, Canada. Welcome to the land of the Cree. Few – very few – people can say they’ve set foot in this largely unknown territory north of the 51st parallel. And yet this region accounts for one-fifth of Quebec’s total landmass and is about as large as all of Germany. This northern Quebec region, covering 350,000 square kilometres, is also known as the Cree-Lands-of-James-Bay. Its Cree villages, its Nordic wildlife and vegetation, and its vast and varied natural settings will without a doubt astound you.

Immerse yourself in Cree communities

Waskaganish ᐋᔅᑳᐦᐄᑲᓂᔥ

51° 12′ 00″ N, 78° 46′ 00″ W
Waskaganish, a Cree village with more than 2,500 residents, is the southernmost coastal community on James Bay and is located at the mouth of the Rupert River. Its name, which means “Little House” in the Cree language, is a reference to the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post that was active here long ago. The Cree have been living at this location for thousands of years and continue to do so in harmony with nature and the sea air of James Bay.

Eastmain ᐄᔅᒣᐃᓐ

52° 14′ 00″ N, 78° 30′ 00″ W
The small Cree village of Eastmain is located on the shores of a watercourse with which it shares its name: the Eastmain River. The name comes from the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post that used to operate at this location. While it is the least-populated Cree community in the region of Eeyou Istchee, its residents will welcome you with open arms and generously share their ancestral traditions with you. From Eastmain, you can get to Cape Hope Islands, which was home to an Inuit community until 1960 and whose history is intertwined with that of the community of Eastmain. Find out more by viewing Nunaaluk: A Forgotten Story.

Wemindji ᐧᐄᒥᓂᒌ

53° 00′ 00” N, 78° 49′ 00” W
The name Wemindji, which is Cree for “Paint Hills” and “Ochre Mountains,” is a direct reference to the landscapes you’ll see here. The village, located at the mouth of the Maquatua River, is a vibrant community with a population of more than 1,500. Its residents are deeply attached to their ancestral traditions and practices, which have been passed on from generation to generation.

Set off on an adventure in the bay and discover our coastal islands

James Bay would not be complete without its magnificent coastal islands. One of these is Charlton Island (52° 00’ 00” N, 79° 00’ 00” W), a key destination on our expeditions. Once upon a time, the island featured a fur-trading post, but it is still largely uninhabited and untouched. It is the second-largest island in James Bay and covers an area equivalent to 80% of the size of the Island of Montreal. Nowadays, Charlton Island’s wildlife makes it a choice springtime goose-hunting location for the Cree.

A mere fifteen or so kilometres away from Charlton Island, you’ll find Trodely Island (52° 14’ 00” N, 79° 26’ 00” W), which is the world’s southernmost location for polar-bear sightings in the wild. A little farther north, you’ll come across the Twin Islands (53° 10’ 00”, 79° 55’ 00”), consisting of North Twin Island and South Twin Island. They are home to many majestic migrating bird species and impressive wildlife, including polar bear and walrus. That is why the Twin Islands have been a protected wildlife reserve since 1939.

From Eastmain, you can get to Cape Hope Islands, which was home to an Inuit community until 1960 and whose history is intertwined with that of the community of Eastmain. Find out more by viewing Nunaaluk: A Forgotten Story.

Have a look at our packages to see which islands you’ll be exploring during your stay in the land of the Cree.

Discover our rich natural surroundings and history

As part of boating expeditions on James Bay, inquisitive travellers can stop on these islands and admire their outstanding geological features, including quartz veins and basalt, which speak of the region’s volcanic past.

The land of the Cree is rich in history. At Sanders Pond, archaeological digs have uncovered numerous tools made of polished stone dating back 4,000 years, including knives and arrowheads. At Smokey Hill, in addition to stone objects, a large sample of ceramic shards was found in the ground. These archaeological artefacts speak of the rich past of Cree lands. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in this history, including the period when Europeans first arrived in the land of the Cree.

The Cree (ᐧᐋᒋᔦ), a nomadic hunting people

The Cree of Eeyou Istchee have lived on this land by the shores of rivers and lakes for the past 5,000 years and are experienced hunters, anglers, and gatherers.

The land of the Cree was a key site for fur-trading starting in the 17th century and continuing for nearly 300 years. Following contact with Europeans, the Cree began to practise trapping, which became a significant activity over time as it contributed to their ability to prepare high-quality fur and pelts.

The weather in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James

On Nordic adventures, you always have to keep an eye on the weather! But don’t worry, from May to September, the weather in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James is far from glacial. In Waskaganish, the temperature tops up at between 12C and 21C and dips no lower than between 5C and 8C. In the land of the Cree, July is the hottest month!
However, we do advise travellers to bring several layers of clothing so as to deal with any kind of weather. Be sure to bring along rainwear and protection again insect bites (both clothing and repellents).
Don’t know what to put in your baggage? Write to us, and we’ll help you out!

Ready to discover the immensity of our territory?