La Malbaie

  La Malbaie, Qué, Town, pop 8959 (2006c), 9143 (2001c), inc 1999. La Malbaie is situated on the lower north shore of the ST LAWRENCE RIVER at the mouth of Rivière Malbaie, 150 km east of Québec City. The town is the result of 2 mergers. The first occurred in 1995 and involved La Malbaie (incorporated as a town, 1958) and Pointe-au-Pic (village, 1876). Four years later Rivière-Malbaie (town, 1938), Saint-Fidèle (town, 1997), Cap-à-l'Aigle (village, 1916) and Sainte-Agnès (parish municipality, 1855) were included.

First named Baye des Morues, or "bay of cod," by Jean Alphonse in the 1500s, it was referred to as malle baye (latin, "bad bay") by Samuel de CHAMPLAIN in 1608 for its difficult anchorage. Some of New France's first rural settlements were located in the area. Two Scottish soldiers, John Nairne and Malcolm Fraser, the first resident seigneurs, called it Murray Bay. They occupied grants on either side of the Rivière Malbaie until about 1815 and attracted many wealthy Americans and English Canadians to the area for vacations in the scenic river and mountain landscape.

Pointe-au-Pic's renowned resorts are among the oldest on the continent and include Manoir Richelieu. Manoir Richelieu first opened in 1899 but burned down in 1928. It reopened the following year. There are also hotels in adjacent Cap-à-l'Aigle. In the late 1980s, Manoir Richelieu was the scene of one of Québec's longest and most violent labour strikes. Casino du Charlevoix was opened in a former ballroom and is a popular tourist attraction.

Tourism is the economic base of La Malbaie. The mergers were part of an effort to boost the area's economy. One goal was to rival the cultural popularity of nearby Baie-Saint-Paul's summer art exhibit, which attracts visitors from across Québec and internationally. La Malbaie's waterfront has been revived as a marina with crafts shops nearby. La Malbaie is the administrative centre of the regional county municipality of Charlevoix-Est. The town also maintains a small mixed industrial base. An aluminum-products plant is the town's largest industrial employer. The oldest existing industry, dating to 1937, is bottled water and juices.