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Magdalen Islands

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Magdalen Islands

Magdalen Islands
The Magdalen Islands
Geography
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates
Area 205.53 km2 (79.36 sq mi)
Country
Canada
Province Quebec
Demographics
Population 12,781 (as of 2011)
Density 62.2 /km2 (161.1 /sq mi)

The Magdalen Islands (French: Îles de la Madeleine ) form a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of 205.53 square kilometres (79.36 sq mi). Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands form part of the Canadian province of Quebec.

The islands form the territory equivalent to a regional county municipality (TE) and census division (CD) of Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Its geographical code is 01.

The islands also form the urban agglomeration of Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, divided into two municipalities. These are Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine (2011 census pop. 12,291), the central municipality, and Grosse-Île (pop. 490). The mayors are Jonathan Lapierre and Rose Elmonde Clarke.

Geography

There are eight major islands: Havre-Aubert, Grande Entrée, Cap aux Meules, Grosse-Île, Havre aux Maisons, Pointe-Aux-Loups, Île d'Entrée and Brion.[1][2] All except Brion are inhabited. There are several other tiny islands that are also considered part of the archipelago: Rocher aux Oiseaux, Île aux Loups-marins, Île Paquet and Rocher du Corps Mort.[3]

The islands' interiors were once completely covered with pine forests.[2]

An ancient salt dome underlies the archipelago.[1][4] The inherent buoyancy of the salt forces the uplift of overlying Permian red sandstone.

Nearby salt domes are believed to be sources of fossil fuels.[5] Rock salt is mined on the Islands.[6]

History

Jacques Cartier was the first European to visit the islands, in 1534. However, Mi'kmaqs had been visiting the islands for hundreds of years as part of a seasonal subsistence round[7] probably to harvest the abundant walrus population. A number of archaeological sites have been excavated on the archipelago.

It was named in 1663 by the seigneur of the island, François Doublet, after his wife, Madeleine Fontaine.[8] In 1765, the islands were inhabited by 22 French-speaking Acadians and their families. They were working and hunting walruses for Richard Gridley. To this day, many inhabitants of the Magdalen Islands (Madelinots) fly the Acadian flag and think of themselves as both Acadians and Québécois.

The islands were administered as part of the Colony of Newfoundland from 1763 until 1774, when they were joined to Quebec by the Quebec Act.

A lighthouse at Les Caps

A segment of the population are descendants from survivors of the over 400 shipwrecks on the islands. The islands are the location of some of Quebec's oldest English-speaking settlements, and although the majority of anglophones have since been assimilated with the francophone population or migrated elsewhere, there are still English-speaking settlements at Old Harry, Grosse-Ile, and Entry Island. As well as the English-speaking settlements, the islands are known for their world famous children's French camp. Activities include sand-castle competitions and a night alone in the woods.

Lighthouses were eventually set up, and this reduced the number of shipwrecks, but there are still many old hulks on the beaches and under the waters.

Until the 20th century, the islands were completely isolated during the winter, since the pack ice made the trip to the mainland impassable by boat. The inhabitants of the island could not even communicate with the mainland. In the winter of 1910 the underwater cable that allowed telegraphic communication broke. The population of the islands sent an urgent request for help to the mainland by writing many letters and sealing them up inside a molasses barrel (or puncheon), which they set adrift. When this reached the shore, on Cape Breton Island, the government sent out an icebreaker to bring aid. Within a few years, the Magdalens were given one of the new wireless telegraph stations so that the inhabitants could at least have some communication in the winter. The puncheon is now famous, and every tourist shop sells replicas.

At one time, large walrus herds were found near the islands but they had been eliminated due to overhunting by the end of the 18th century. The islands' beaches provide habitat for the endangered piping plover and the roseate tern.

Demographics

Population

Language

Canada Census Mother Tongue - Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec[12]
Census Total
French
English
French & English
Other
Year Responses Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop %
2011
12,660
11,900 Decrease 1.1% 94.00% 695 Decrease 16.3% 5.49% 40 Decrease 20.0% 0.32% 25 Decrease 61.5% 0.20%
2006
12,975
12,030 Increase 1.9% 92.72% 830 Increase 16.9% 6.40% 50 Increase 100.0% 0.38% 65 Increase 62.5% 0.50%
2001
12,575
11,800 Decrease 8.7% 93.84% 710 Decrease 0.7% 5.65% 25 Decrease 58.3% 0.20% 40 Increase 300.0% 0.32%
1996
13,730
12,925 n/a 0.00% 715 n/a 0.00% 60 n/a 0.00% 30 n/a 0.00%

Climate

The maritime climate enjoyed by Magdalen Islands is markedly different from that of the mainland. The huge water masses that circle the archipelago temper the weather and create milder conditions in each season. On the islands, winter is mild, spring is cool, there are few heat waves in summer, and fall is typically warm. The Magdalen Islands have the least amount of annual frost in the Province of Québec. The warm breezes of summer persist well into September, and sometimes early October.[13]

Climate data for Grindstone Island (Cap aux Meules)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 11.5
(52.7)
9.0
(48.2)
10.9
(51.6)
15.6
(60.1)
23.3
(73.9)
27.0
(80.6)
29.4
(84.9)
31.1
(88)
26.6
(79.9)
21.2
(70.2)
16.1
(61)
11.3
(52.3)
31.1
(88)
Average high °C (°F) −3.1
(26.4)
−4.3
(24.3)
−1.0
(30.2)
3.8
(38.8)
10.5
(50.9)
16.1
(61)
20.4
(68.7)
21.0
(69.8)
16.8
(62.2)
10.9
(51.6)
5.2
(41.4)
0.2
(32.4)
8.0
(46.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.4
(20.5)
−8.2
(17.2)
−4.1
(24.6)
1.2
(34.2)
7.0
(44.6)
12.5
(54.5)
17.1
(62.8)
17.8
(64)
13.9
(57)
8.2
(46.8)
2.8
(37)
−2.3
(27.9)
5.0
(41)
Average low °C (°F) −9.7
(14.5)
−12
(10)
−7.1
(19.2)
−1.5
(29.3)
3.5
(38.3)
8.9
(48)
13.8
(56.8)
14.6
(58.3)
10.9
(51.6)
5.6
(42.1)
0.4
(32.7)
−4.8
(23.4)
1.9
(35.4)
Record low °C (°F) −25.6
(−14.1)
−26.3
(−15.3)
−22.1
(−7.8)
−12.9
(8.8)
−4.7
(23.5)
1.1
(34)
7.5
(45.5)
6.6
(43.9)
−2
(28)
−3.9
(25)
−10.5
(13.1)
−18.6
(−1.5)
0
(32)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 99.6
(3.921)
75.2
(2.961)
83.8
(3.299)
74.6
(2.937)
64.3
(2.531)
61.8
(2.433)
61.9
(2.437)
74.8
(2.945)
76.0
(2.992)
94.7
(3.728)
101.9
(4.012)
118.6
(4.669)
987.3
(38.87)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 29.4
(1.157)
24.8
(0.976)
26.2
(1.031)
44.5
(1.752)
60.3
(2.374)
61.8
(2.433)
61.9
(2.437)
74.8
(2.945)
76.0
(2.992)
92.9
(3.657)
81.7
(3.217)
55.4
(2.181)
689.8
(27.157)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 73.3
(28.86)
51.8
(20.39)
58.2
(22.91)
29.5
(11.61)
3.8
(1.5)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.7
(0.67)
20.0
(7.87)
62.9
(24.76)
301.2
(118.58)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 18 14 15 13 12 11 11 11 12 14 15 19 165
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 5 4 6 8 12 11 11 11 12 14 13 8 113
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 16 12 11 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 5 13 66
Source: Environment Canada[14]

Tourism

Cliffs along the shore of Grosse Île

Tourism is a major industry on the Magdalen Islands. The islands have many kilometres of white sand beaches, along with steadily eroding sandstone cliffs. They are a destination for bicycle camping, sea kayaking, windsurfing and kitesurfing. During the winter months, beginning in mid-February, eco-tourists visit to observe new-born and young harp seal pups on the pack ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence surrounding the islands.

Industry

The island is home to Canadian Salt Company Seleine Mines, which produces road salt for use in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the United States' eastern seaboard.[15] Opened in 1982, the salt mine and plant is located in Grosse-Île and extracts salt from an underground mine 30 metres (98 ft) below Grande-Entrée Lagoon. It produces 1 million tons of salt, and employs 200 people.

Transportation

The Coopérative de transport maritime et aérien (Groupe C.T.M.A.) operates a ferry service between terminals in Souris, Prince Edward Island and Cap-aux-Meules. Groupe C.T.M.A. also operates a seasonal cruise ferry service between the islands and Montreal.[16]

The Magdalen Islands Airport at Havre-aux-Maisons offers scheduled air service to Labrador and mainland Quebec.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ The Archipelago
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Toponymie du Québec
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 census
  13. ^ http://www.tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com/en/discover-the-islands/useful-informations/climate/
  14. ^ [1], accessed 16 March 2012.
  15. ^ Windsor Salt
  16. ^ Schedule and rates - Ferry - Sea links crossing Îles de la Madeleine and Prince Edouard Island ferry, cruise on St-Lawrence

External links

  • Municipalité des Îles-de-la-Madeleine
  • Municipalités et villes de la Gaspésie
  • Magdalen Islands tourist association
  • The official tourist site of the islands
  • Quebec tourism information on the Magdalen Islands including a map (with the French names)


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