Alma, Québec, City, pop 29 998 (2006c), 30 126 (2001cA), inc 1979. Alma is located at the head of the Saguenay River near Lac Saint-Jean, 230 km north of Québec City. County seat of Lac Saint-Jean Est, headquarters of the judicial district of the same name, the present city contains 5 former municipalities: Alma, Riverbend, Isle-Maligne, Naudville and the parish of Alma.
Born of the lumber industry in 1860, Alma quickly became a prosperous agricultural parish. It burst into the industrial age in 1923 with the start of construction of the Isle-Maligne hydro station on the Grande Décharge. When completed in 1926, the station supplied power for the Arvida aluminum works and the Price paper mill in Alma. Population multiplied fivefold 1921-31.
During WWII Alcan built an aluminum plant there that was expanded during the 1950s. In that same era Alma became a tertiary centre for the Lac Saint-Jean area (commerce, professional services, hospital, college). Geographic centre of the Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean region, it is the site of various regional organizations. Alma is also the departure point for Lac Saint-Jean cruises.