Magdalen Islands

Magdalen Islands
The Magdalen Islands

The Magdalen Islands (French, Îles de la Madeleine) form a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of 205.53 square kilometres (79.36 sq mi). Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands form part of the Canadian province of Quebec.

The islands form the territory equivalent to a regional county municipality (TE) and census division (CD) of Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Its geographical code is 01.

The islands also form the urban agglomeration of Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, divided into two municipalities. These are Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine (2006 census pop. 12,560), the central municipality, and Grosse-Île (pop. 531). The current mayors are Joêl Arseneau and Rose Elmonde Clarke.



There are eight major islands: Havre-Aubert, Grande Entrée, Cap aux Meules, Grosse Île, Havre aux Maisons, Pointe-Aux-Loups, Île d'Entrée and Brion. All except the latter are inhabited. There are several other tiny islands which are also considered part of the archipelago: Rocher aux Oiseaux, Île aux Loups-marins, Île Paquet and Rocher du Corps Mort.[1]


Jacques Cartier was the first European to visit the islands, in 1534. However, Mi'kmaq Indians had been visiting the islands for hundreds of years as part of a seasonal subsistence round, probably to harvest the abundant walrus population. A number of archaeological sites have been excavated on the archipelago.

It was named in 1663 by the seigneur of the island, François Doublet, after his wife, Madeleine Fontaine.[2] In 1755, the islands were inhabited by French-speaking Acadians. When the British expelled the Acadians from the rest of what are now the Maritime Provinces of Canada, they did not come as far as the Magdalen Islands. To this day, many inhabitants of the Magdalen Islands (Madelinots) fly the Acadian flag and think of themselves as both Acadians and Québécois.

The islands were administered as part of the Colony of Newfoundland from 1763 until 1774, when they were joined to Quebec by the Quebec Act.

A lighthouse at Les Caps

Until the 20th century, the islands were completely isolated during the winter, since the pack ice made the trip to the mainland impassable by boat. The inhabitants of the island could not even communicate with the mainland. In the winter of 1910, they sent an urgent request for help to the mainland by writing many letters and sealing them up inside a molasses barrel (or puncheon), which they set adrift. When this reached the shore, on Cape Breton Island, the government sent out an icebreaker to bring aid. Within a few years, the Magdalens were given one of the new wireless telegraph stations so that the inhabitants could at least have some communication in the winter. The puncheon is now famous, and every tourist shop sells replicas.

At one time, large walrus herds were found near the islands but they had been eliminated due to overhunting by the end of the 18th century. The islands' beaches provide habitat for the endangered Piping Plover and the Roseate Tern.


A segment of the population are descendants from survivors of the over 400 shipwrecks on the islands. The islands are the location of some of Quebec's oldest English-speaking settlements, and although the majority of anglophones have since been assimilated with the francophone population or migrated elsewhere, there are still English-speaking settlements at Old Harry, Grosse-Ile, and Entry Island. As well as the English-speaking settlements, the islands are known for their world famous children's French camp. Activities include sand-castle competitions and a night alone in the woods.

Lighthouses were eventually set up, and this reduced the number of shipwrecks, but there are still many old hulks on the beaches and under the waters.

In the 2001 Census, the archipelago was found to support a population of 12,818, down from 13,991 in 1991 – the official 2006 census figure is 13,091 – whose main occupations include lobster fishing.[3][4]


Cliffs along the shore of Grosse Île

Tourism is a major industry on the Magdalen Islands. The islands have many kilometres of white sand beaches, along with steadily eroding sandstone cliffs. It is an excellent destination for bicycle camping, sea kayaking, windsurfing and kitesurfing. During the winter months, beginning in mid-February, eco-tourists visit to observe new-born and young harp seal pups on the pack ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence surrounding the islands.


The island is home to Canadian Salt Company Seleine Mines, which produces road salt for use in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the United States eastern seaboard.[5] Opened in 1982, the salt mine and plant is located in Grosse-Île and extracts salt from an underground mine 30 metres (98 ft) below Grande-Entrée Lagoon, produces 1 million tons of salt, and employs 200 people.


The Coopérative de transport maritime et aérien (Groupe C.T.M.A.) operates a ferry service between terminals in Souris, Prince Edward Island and Cap-aux-Meules. Groupe C.T.M.A. also operates a seasonal cruise ferry service between the islands and Montreal.[6]

The Magdalen Islands Airport at Havre-aux-Maisons offers scheduled air service to the Maritimes and mainland Quebec.


Click on the images to access the camera location.
Magdalen Islands HDR 1. 
Magdalen Islands HDR 2. 
Magdalen Islands HDR 3. 
Magdalen Islands HDR 4. 
Magdalen Islands HDR 5. 
Magdalen Islands HDR 6. 
Magdalen Islands HDR 7. 

See also


External links

Coordinates: 47°26′54″N 61°45′08″W / 47.44833°N 61.75222°W / 47.44833; -61.75222

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Magdalen Islands —   [ mægdəlɪn aɪləndz], englischer Name für die Îles de la Madeleine …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Magdalen Islands — French Îles de la Madeleine Island group of eastern Quebec, Canada. Located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence between Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, the group comprises several islands and islets, with a total area of 88 sq mi (228 sq km). The… …   Universalium

  • Magdalen Islands — or French Îles de la Madeleine geographical name islands Canada in Quebec in Gulf of St. Lawrence between Newfoundland & Prince Edward Island area 102 square miles (265 square kilometers) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Magdalen Islands — ► Grupo de nueve pequeñas islas e islotes del NE de Canadá, prov. de Québec; 228 km2 y 13 305 h …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Magdalen Islands —    In Gulf of St. Lawrence. Uncertain who first discovered the group. They were known for many years as the Isles Ramées, or Ramea. This name first appears in narratives of voyages to the Gulf in 1590 1597, in Hakluyt. Champlain applied the… …   The makers of Canada

  • Grindstone Island (Magdalen Islands) — See also Grindstone Island, USA and Grindstone Island, Ontario, Canada. Grindstone Island (Île du Cap aux Meules) is an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The island is one of the Magdalen Islands (Îles de la Madeleine) of Quebec, Canada. The… …   Wikipedia

  • Trader's Currency Token of the Magdalen Islands — The Magdalen Islands had only one coin a 1 Penny token issued in 1815 by Sir Isaac Coffin. The obverse of the coin depicts a seal on an ice floe. It is inscribed MAGDALEN ISLAND TOKEN 1815 . The reverse of the coin depicts two gutted fish similar …   Wikipedia

  • Магдаленские о-ва — (Magdalen Islands) в центре залива св. Лаврентия в Сев. Америке; принадлежат к Канаде. Наибольший из них Коффин, около 40 км длины. Главные предметы, вывоза гипс, омары, сельди, тюлени. Жит. 3172 …   Энциклопедический словарь Ф.А. Брокгауза и И.А. Ефрона

  • Entry Island — (Île d’Entrée in French) is an island off the east coast of the Magdalen Islands, which are part of the Canadian Province of Quebec. The island is 2 km wide and 3 km long. The island is located 12 km from the main port of Cap aux Meules of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Charles B. Cory — Charles Barney Cory Charles Barney Cory Naissance 31 janvier 1857 Boston ( …   Wikipédia en Français