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Cree have lived in the Rupert River watershed area and around Lake Mistassini for thousands of years. It is a history shaped by the land, water and animals that surround our home. 

History of Mistissini

Old Map

Pre-History / Geological History

The History of the Mistassins (David Denton, Jean-Yves Pintal, July 2002) 

Years Ago

The province of Quebec was covered by glaciers that carved the lakes, hills and mountains that define the region. 12,000BP the climate began to warm and the glaciers began to recede from the St-Lawrence and Gaspe Peninsula  


12,000 Years Before Present

The shores of the lower St-Lawrence, the Gaspe Peninsula and part of the Lower North Shore were free of ice (Fullton and Andrews, 1987). This marked a period of glacial recession that would proceed for thousands of years to follow ending the last glacial period 


Glacial recession had reached the southern end of Lac St-Jean opening large areas for new plant species including mossy spruce to spread in the newly emerged land and climate. 


The glacial recession continued for further arctic regions but by somewhere between 7200-6500BP the last glacial period ended in Quebec. The open land created a new space for flora and fauna to emerge and spread through the region 


By this time, glacial recession had steadily occurred leaving large water bodies deposited throughout Quebec. The melt deposited great boulders that provide our namesake, and water bodies forming Waconichi, Mistissini and Albanel. This led to a period of continental uplift as rock was no longer weighed down by great masses of ice. 

Cultural Transition

Between 7000-6000BP glacial recession provided a vast landscape for flora and fauna to occupy. This transition brought with it the first Plano (Paleoindien) people that over the next 3000 years would. 

This period is debated both in its initial start and when exactly the Americas were fully explored by its first peoples. 

Glacial Map
Black Spruce Boglands

The Cree Hunters of Mistissini

 For thousands of years, the Cree Indians of James Bay inhabited the northern Quebec forests – originally gathering wild rice, and later hunting, fishing, and trapping. Traditionally, small groups of families spent the winter months together in the bush, subsisting on moose, beaver, deer, wild geese and caribou.

In 1973 a film crew joined three families in their annual move to the north. In this film we come to know the Blacksmiths, the Jollys, and the Voyageurs: building a one-room lodge floored with pine boughs, hunting, trapping, preparing food and skins, and living together in the bush.

Different Perspectives of History

We have brought together different ways of enjoying the history of Mistissini. Feel free to learn more about the different aspects of our community, people and the land that makes Mistissini unique.

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