National Park Reserve
These islands and islets, carved out of the limestone bedrock, became a national park reserve in 1984. There is an abundance of life: plants of variegated hues and shapes, seabirds gathered in colonies, seals, dolphins, and whales. This park protects and maintains the ecological integrity of the region of the Eastern St. Lawrence Lowlands.
The Innu, Europeans, Acadians, and Canadians came to occupy the Mingan Islands occasionally or on a permanent basis, to make use of the resources, to practice a trade, or to take shelter. The first inhabitants, groups of American Indians, were attracted by the marine resources, gathering molluscs, fishing for salmon, and hunting the seal.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Basque fished for cod and hunted whales in the archipelago. The Basque left the remains of stone ovens used to melt whale fat on Île Nue de Mingan and Île du Havre de Mingan. The fur trade with the Montagnais on Île du Havre de Mingan was continued under British rule and the seigneuries and was handed over to such merchant traders as the Hudson Bay Company.
About 1850, when the Hudson Bay Company lost its monopoly, villages began to appear along the coast. New settlers came from Jersey, from French Canada, and from Acadia. Because many boats were sunk in the area, two lighthouses were constructed, in 1888 on Île aux Perroquets and in 1915 on Petite Île au Marteau.
The monoliths, created from easily crumbled rock are susceptible to erosive agents which continue to sculpture and model them bit by bit. These limestone sculptures pointing skywards in the island landscape form the largest group of monoliths in Canada.
See map of the park.
See also: National Parks of Canada.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)