07 July 2009

Chibougamau Calling

Just returned from a week-long trip to the mining town of Chibougamau. With a population of just over 7,000, it's considered the largest community in the vast Nord-du-Québec (839,000 square kilometres), yet barely registers in our literature. As far as I know, it has spawned no writers of note. I've yet to come across a work of fiction that is set in the town. That said, Chibougamou sometimes receives fleeting mention: in Yves Beauchemin's Le matou, Lise Tremblay's La danse juive and 'Maîtresse des hautes œuvres' by Anne Dandurand. This passage, from The Calling by that 'well-known and well-regarded' novelist Inger Ash Wolfe, is typical:
It had taken him a day and a half to drive through Quebec, keeping to the 117 and the 113 through Chibougamau until the highway brought him back down toward the St. Lawrence.
I suppose the biggest connection the town has with the world of books is as birthplace of former Chapters president and CEO Larry Stevenson. Sadly, there are no bookstores in Chibougamau. The shortest route from the town to the nearest Chapters store – a nine hour journey of 692 kilometres – is below.

1 comment:

  1. I lived in Chibougamau, Quebec from 1958-1966. It was just a small mining town then with dirt roads, and a Hudson Bay store. My sons were born in nearby Chapais (Opemiska was the Indian name) I have no photos from that time as I wasn't a camera buff, so would appreciate seeing some if anyone out there has any.