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Whapmagoostui ("place of the beluga" in Cree) is the northernmost Cree village in Quebecmarker, located at the mouth of the Great Whale River ( ) on the coast of Hudson Baymarker in Nunavikmarker, Quebecmarker, Canadamarker. About 500 people, mostly Inuit, live in the neighbouring northern village of Kuujjuarapikmarker. The community is only accessible by air (Kuujjuarapik Airportmarker) and, in late summer, by boat. Whapmagoostui is about 250 kilometres north of the nearest Cree village, Chisasibimarker.

Although the permanent cohabitation of Inuit and Crees at the mouth of the Great Whale River 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 Crees more in the interior lands.


While the Cree have hunted and fished along the Hudson Baymarker coast long before the arrival of Europeans, it was not until 1820 when a Hudson's Bay Company trading post was built here, known variously as Great Whale River House, Great Whale River or just Great Whale. On maps of 1851 and 1854, the post is called Whale River House and Whale House. Protestant and Catholic missions settled there in the 1880s. In 1895, a weather station was set up by the Federal Government. Medical and police services began to be offered in the first half of the 20th century. Yet the Cree would not settle here permanently and only used it as a summer encampment.

Not until 1940 did the Cree give up their nomadic way of life when the American army opened a military air base here, using Inuit and Cree workers. In 1941, the HBC post closed. After the World War II in 1948, the military base was transferred to the Canadian government. And in 1955, it began operating a Mid-Canada Line radar station. Though the radar station was not operational for long and closed in 1965, it established the village permanently.

In 1961, when the Quebec Government decided to give French names to Nordic places, the name Great Whale River was replaced with Grande-Baleine which itself was replaced a year later with Post-de-la-Baleine. In 1979, the Cree Village Municipality, identified as Whapmagoostoo, was established. The Cree village itself is officially named Whapmagoostui since 1986, thereby replacing all other toponyms.


  • Population in 2006: 812
  • Population in 2001: 778
    • 2001 to 2006 population change: 4.4 %
  • Population in 1996: 626
  • Population in 1991: 508


Further reading

  • Adelson, Naomi. Practices and Perceptions of Health of the James Bay Cree of Whapmagoostui, Quebec Final Report. Montréal: McGill University], 1991.
  • Lussier, Catherine, Carole Lévesque, and Ginette Lajoie. Northern Ecosystem Initiative A Preliminary Community Perspective on Environmental Priorities, Whapmagoostui and Chisasibi. Montréal: INRS Culture et société, 2000.

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