Chibougamau, population 7500 (2011), is the largest regional centre in Northern Quebec. It was founded as a mining village in 1950, and was incorporated as a municipality in 1954.
The area has long been part of the Cree First Nation (Indigenous) territory (the Cree call themselves "Néhinaw" or "Néhiyaw"). It was in the early 17th century that French explorers and traders, including Charles Albanel in 1671, came to the Lake Chibougamau area. However, no permanent European settlements were established at that time.
In the late 19th century, the area attracted the interest of mining prospectors. When gold was discovered in 1903, there were periods of intense exploration. Due to difficulty of access, no lasting development took place until 1949 when copper was exploited, with the opening of a multi-metallic mine in the area. A permanent community was established in 1952. Chibougamau started out as a company town but soon after, in 1954, it was incorporated as a municipality. Many mines have exploited the area since. While still thought of as a mining town, Chibougamau is now also the centre of a large logging and sawmill industry.
From southern Québec, the general route to Chibougamau-Chapais is Route 167 from Lac St-Jean, from where it is possible to travel to Trois-Rivières via Shawinigan and Roberval on Route 155. Western Québec and Ontario are connected to Chibougamau by Route 113, connecting to Route 117 at Louvicourt near Val-d'Or. Both routes are paved and have a speed limit of 90 km/h.
The North Road (Route du Nord), an isolated gravel road, connects Chibougamau to the James Bay Road (Route de la Baie-James).
There is no public transport in Chibougamau. There are two local taxi services on 3rd Street:
- Taxi Diamond, 473 3ième rue, ☏ .
- Taxi Coop, 557 3ième rue, ☏ .
- Mining Discovery Centre (Centre d'intérêt minier de Chibougamau), 924 Route 167 nord, ☏ . Museum in former Bruneau mine covering mining history from the ancient Pharaohs' search for gold to modern times, plus a guided tour of the mine.
- Cree communities: Chibougamau is the largest regional centre to visit the aboriginal Cree communities of Oujé-Bougoumou (47 km west) and Mistissini (86 km north). Oujé-Bougoumou was designed by renowned Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal, who designed the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Québec, and has received UNESCO recognition as a model community due to sustainable development practices and cultural preservation.
- Wildlife abounds. Bears are sometimes visible at the municipal dump.
- Festival Folifrets. Chibougamau celebrates the winter. Ten days at the end of Feb to mid-March. Antique snowmobile rally, endurance run.
- Centre de plein air du Mont Chalco, 264 route 167, ☏ . Snowboarding, ski rental, 11 slopes, a triple chairlift, a tube run, snowblades, 29 km (18 mi) of cross-country ski trails and a snowshoe trail.
- Club de Golf de Chibougamau, 130, rue des Forces-Armées, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Nine-hole golf course, golf cart, club and ball rental, restaurant, conference facilities. Mid-May to mid-Sept.
- [formerly dead link] Escapade Boréale, 1252 route 167, Chapais, ☏ . Tent, canoe and parasail rental.
- Paraski Boréal, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Kite skiing. Paraski Flex and IKO instruction and equipment.
- Lake Gilman. Walking, biking and fishing.
- Mini-Golf, 651, 3e Rue, ☏ . 18 holes. Chess club “Les fous de la tour de glace” on-site.
- Pourvoirie Chibougamau, Lac Laganière, route 167 Nord, La Doré (8 km N of Chibougamau), ☏ . Outfitter and fishing camp with 2-6 person cottages (kitchen, running water, propane, patio, shower, BBQ).
- Salle de quilles Bolorama, 160, avenue Lafontaine, ☏ , toll-free: . Eight-lane bowling alley. from $10.
- Snowmobile trails lead across the province, from Rouyn-Noranda through Chibougamau to the Saguenay.
- Centre Commercial Place Le Chaînon, 466 3e Rue.
All of the following restaurants are located on 3e rue.
- Au Petit Bedon, 466 3ième rue, ☏ .
- Casse Croûte Louka, 586 3ième rue, ☏ .
- Chateau Chibougamau, 966 3ième rue, ☏ .
- Chez Jo-Anne, 541 3ième rue, ☏ .
- Chez Julie, 541 3ième rue, ☏ . Dinner style restaurant serving breakfast, hamburgers, poutine and other rather greasy dishes.
- Le Coq Rôti, 453 3ième rue, ☏ . Chicken rotisserie belonging to a province wide chain, they serve various chicken dishes as well as pasta and pizza.
- Rendez-Vous Copains, 920 3ième rue, ☏ .
All of the below bars are on 3e rue.
- Le Gwillim, 560 3ième rue, ☏ . Popular local nightclub that attracts a very young crowd, impressive selection of shooters.
- La Ptite Broue, 535 3ième rue, ☏ . Another fairly popular pub that attracts a good crowd on weekends.
- Pub Royal, 502 3ième rue, ☏ . Popular local bar/sports bar/pub, with music weekend nights, serving a wide variety of imported and local beers, liqueurs, absinthe, and various dishes.
- Le Rendez-Vous at the Hôtel Chibougamau typically attracts a large aboriginal crowd. Pool table and gaming machines.
- Le CabArrêt is the local strip club.
All of the following accommodations are located on 3e rue (Route 167):
- Éco-Camping (municipal campground), 512 Route 167 Sud, ☏ , fax: . Mid-May to Labour Day, 42 campsites for tents and RVs on Lac Sauvage, sports field and equipment, playground, Wi-Fi, wood, showers, laundry, bicycle rental. Pet-friendly. Just outside the city on Route 167.
- [dead link] Motel Harricana, 1000 3ième rue, ☏ , fax: . 100 rooms, TV/radio, laundry, conference facilities for 175 (restaurant/bar).
- Motel Nordic, 966 3ième rue, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . 52 rooms, a/c, dvd, wi-fi, refrigerators. Resto-Bistro Roméo et Juliette.
- Hôtel Chibougamau, 473, 3e rue, ☏ , fax: . Large hotel in centre of town with Internet, video, minibar, laundry, meeting facilities, «Le Bon Accueil» restaurant, «Le Rendez-vous» and «La Tourelle» bars.
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