Whapmagoostui ("place of the
beluga" in Cree) is the northernmost
Cree village in Quebec, located at
the mouth of the Great Whale River
( ) on the coast of Hudson
Bay in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada.
people, mostly Inuit, live in the neighbouring
northern village of Kuujjuarapik. The community is only accessible by air
Airport) and, in late summer, by boat. Whapmagoostui is about
250 kilometres north of the nearest Cree village, Chisasibi.
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
Cree have hunted and fished along the Hudson Bay 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
On maps of 1851 and 1854, the post is called
Whale River 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
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
- Population in 2006: 812
- Population in 2001: 778
- 2001 to 2006 population change: 4.4 %
- Population in 1996: 626
- Population in 1991: 508
- 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.