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Île d'Orléans (Island)


It is in 1535 that Jacques Cartier named it "Bacchu's Island" when he saw the wild grape wines growing on it. The native indians used to name it "Ouindige", by an Algonquin word which means "Bewitched Place". Today, the islanders are still nicknamed as "Island Sorcerers", due to the great numbers of fireflies that apppear at night.

The island has had many names, but on May 6th, 1536, Jacques Cartier finally named it Orleans, thus honoring the Duke of Orleans, son of Francois the 1st, King of France. Ile d'Orleans is one of the oldest settlement of New France.

In 1995, the island's total population was approximatively 7,000 people, spread out in 6 villages. The island is 34 Km long, by 8 Km wide. A single bridge links it to Beauport, near Quebec City. The main road, called Chemin Royal, connects all the villages.




The islanders lives are punctuated by the tides, carrying the Atlantic ocean's salt water to the island's eastern tip.




Historical facts


During the New France era, the island was part of the huge Beaupré estate. Most of the settlers came over from Normandy and Poitou. The 1685 census numbered 1205 islanders, and 917 livestock. Even though the English occupied the island in 1759, very few signs of their presence remains.

Withnessing the past, over 600 buildings and houses have been clasified as having a great heritage value to Quebec. Among those is the oldest church from the New France period. A few 18th and 19th century bakeries are still operating today. Unfortunately, the many mills, tanneries, shoemakers and blacksmiths shops that contributed to the islanders' well being, have all disappeared today. The Mauvide-Genest museum presents a testimony of this rich past. Some bed and breakfasts also recall the history of the island's proud inhabitants.




Ile d'Orléans is only 15 minutes away from Downtown Quebec City.


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Maritime history


marinastlaurentp.jpg (10265 bytes)The very first wharf was built in 1855, in Ste-Petronille. Thus conneted to the City of Quebec, the island will experience an important economical development. The warf was used as a landing for market products, and soon, for the many visitors.

From 1908 to 1967, the Saint-Laurent Village Shipyard was one of the region's most important industry. It is now called Parc Maritime, offering activities and exhibitions. During the 18th century, about 20 shipyards built 300 to 400 boats every year.


The ancestors heritage


The Ile d'orléans' inhabitants have carefully preserved the rural charm of their beloved island. Their philosophy is well expressed in the work of Felix Leclerc, poet and singer. The island is the ancestral land of 317 large Quebec families. Some of these families have set up commemorative monuments on the occasion of festivities. 

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The island's fertile lands are very productive. Potatoes and strawberries represent a strong percentage of the varieties grown for the whole region. The island is also an ideal location for orchards, where you can pick tasty apples during the fall.

There are also many sugar shacks, some of them opened all year-round. You will find out everything about the making of maple syrup and all its by-products. Make sure to check about reservations and schedules.

There are also fisheries, such as Domaine Orleans, which offer you the opportunity to fish trouts in a very pleasant environment. They also supply the necessary equipment.


Agriculture remains the island's main activity!



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