Grande Terre Island-All Details



Grande Terre


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Grande Terre Island, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is Canadas second-largest island and has a population of just over 4,000 people. The island is rich in resources, including forestry, fisheries, hydroelectricity and minerals. It also has a long history of agriculture and tourism.

The island has several small communities and a single large town, Gros Morne, which is the capital. The economy is largely dependent on forestry and tourism, with a small number of jobs in the fishing and mining industries. Grande Terre is home to one of the world’s largest caribou herds.

Grande Terre


The first inhabitants of Grande Terre were the Mi’kmaq people, who arrived in the area about 10,000 years ago. The first Europeans to visit the island were Jacques Cartier and his crew in 1534. They named it “Grosse-Île” (Great Island) because of its size. In 1604, Samuel de Champlain sailed through the Gulf of St Lawrence and discovered Grande Terre on his way home to France. The island is named because of its size, not its shape or temperament.

The Mi’kmaq continued farming and fishing on Grande Terre through the sixteenth century until relations with European settlers became tense in 1670. On March 6, 1745 Samuel de Champlain was captured off the coast by Robert Cavelier de La Salle who claimed possession of Canada for King Louis XIV (de la Bourbon).



Grande Terre has a maritime climate with cool to cold winters and warm to hot summers. The average annual precipitation is about 480 mm. Grande Terre has few natural resources. There is timber in some of the deep valleys, along with salt and iron deposits on hillsides barren of forest at about 800 m above sea level.

The fish population is abundant, with an abundance of cod in the gulf, halibut and salmon on the offshore islands. An attempted aquaculture operation (a closed indoor pond experiment) has never been successful. The main industries based on forestry and tourism are supplementary to these traditional resources.



The Mi’kmaq continue to maintain their traditional way of life. Grand Terre is the home of the world’s largest caribou herd, estimated at 250,000 animals in 1990. Other important cultural contributions include handicrafts such as beadwork and pottery.

Politically, Grande Terre is part of Canada (Vermont). The population was 2,887 inhabitants as reported by Statistics Canada in 2007. Most of Grande Terre’s population lives in the town of Grand Bay-Westfield (Census Metropolitan Area Régionale de comté Érable Nord/Territoire de la Capitale nationale). In the MRC d’Erableville, a territory which includes most of white Jersey and Granville is used to divide communities.



As part of Canada, Grande Terre is a politically diverse area. It has federally recognized (recognized by the government) three officially recognized First Nations: Maliseet Nation, Webequiuchabek Band and Atikamekw Nation. The communities in these bands are independently organized under some unique political structures that set them aside from other portions of Canada for purposes such as economic development or social services among other things.

Government services

Government Services

The local government is the Municipality of Grand Bay-Westfield. The current mayor is Nicholas Antoine and the deputy mayor is Claude Leblanc. The town council consists of a Mayor, two Councillors from District 1 and one Councillor from District 2.

Grande Terre is a major tourist destination in New Brunswick with much to offer tourists including world-class skiing at Mont-Sans Souci, hiking on green river, white sandy beaches and a rich history involving Mi’kmaq peoples.

The locals are rugged, friendly people with European and African lineage from the immigrants ceding of penal colonies in 1685-1784 as well as war prisoners transported to Saint John between 1775-1776 to be employed on projects such Ashelak’s Farm (Rural Municipality d’Assomption).



Grande Terre is known for its natural beauty centred around the world-class ski resort, Mont-Sans Souci. Other attractions include hiking and white sandy beaches. Visitors can also explore the rich Mi’kmaq history in local towns and villages. The local economy is based on aquaculture, forestry and tourism. The first sawmill in the area was built at Camp Fortune in the 1930s.

Its decline after World War II through overlogging led to other industries of forest products, pulp and paper mills on both sides-of-the river from which much value has been derived furthering economic growth since until present day such as several tax/ investment (legal) partnerships especially one involving the international paper giant, Sappi.



The nearest international airport is in Moncton. There are daily buses to and from the city. The town has a marina with boat rentals, a bike path along the river and designated parking spots for motorists, cyclists and RVs/ campers . The former ferry crossing to the Acadian Peninsula, once operated by Buskers International has been relocated and is now served primarily on craft.



Grande Terre is known for its lobster, beef and pork dishes prepared in a variety of ways. Local wines are also popular. Visiting The Acadian Councils: Canada’s National Acadian Returns – A monument erected to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the return by returning Loyalists of 11,595 French-Canadians who sought refuge in five colonies across North America and returned to New France. The memorial is located in Boulogne Basin on a property now part of a major scrap copper mine Quarry Bay Mines (Quarry Bay).



There are a number of both resident and migratory animals in the area including deer, beaver, bears, otters and several varieties of birds.


Grande Terre Island is a small island located in the Gulf of St Lawrence, approximately 120 kilometers east of Gaspé and 120 kilometers west of Tadoussac, Quebec, Canada. The island is part of the Gaspé Peninsula and lies within the watershed of the lower Saint Lawrence River.

Grande Terre Island is one of the easternmost islands in North America. It is administratively part of Sapin-et-Montcalm Regional County Municipality in Quebec, Canada. Grande Terre Island was first mapped by Samuel de Champlain in 1615.


  1. What Is Grande Terre Island’s Population Size?

Grande Terre Island has a population of just over 4,000 people.

  1. What Are The Island’s Main Resources?

The main resources on Grande Terre include forestry, fisheries, hydroelectricity and minerals. There are also many small communities and a single large town on the island – Gros Morne – which is the capital. The economy is largely dependent on forestry and tourism, with a few jobs in the fishing industry.

  1. Who Is Responsible For Caring For The Environment On Grande Terre?

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) acts as the steward of this area of public land within Stricto Sensu – The official designation from Parks Canada would be Island Park National Park Reserve .

  1. How Is This Area Accessed And Maintained?

Island Park National Park Reserve (ISPR) – Small boat harbour with outer lough jetties – For smaller boats such as fishing craft, sailboats etc.

  1. What Is The Spirit Of Grande-Terre Island Like?

Surrounded by a rugged coastline, leaving just enough room to get onto land and breathe fresh air in this harbour – where tourists spend their days exploring beaches or even catching small fish that dart through smaller channels created to facilitate fishing on the island.

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