Rivière-à-Pierre: Moving Mountains
Riviere-a-Pierre Travel Blog› entry 4 of 27 › view all entries
August 22nd, 2001 – by: maplefanta
Rivière-à-Pierre is the northernmost village of the county and the youngest as well, founded in early 20th Century. It was and still is a pretty mono-economy village which rely on its abundant surrounding of 'Granit'. Yes the purpose of the settlement was to create the world hugest Granit quarry to provide the rest of the continent and even other international destinations.
The quality and abundance of the mineral here is has brought wealth to the community, which settled here in this far northern land. From Rivière-à-Pierre, you can say you are deeply in the country side. The nearest supermarket is 30km away (there is a gas station and local convenient store though) so every other specialised shop are in Quebec city... at quite a distance.
The extraction of Granit from the Laurentians Canadian Shield is certainly huge here, if you drive around in the woodland hinterland you can get landscape perspective on complete mountains which have, nearly completely disappeared. The local is found everywhere, Paris, London and for example the socle of the Liberty statue in New York is all made of local Granit.
Nonetheless to say that this material is also the prime local construction material.
Rivière-à-Pierre is also the northern end of the Jacques-Cartier/Portneuf Cycling path, which is 60 km long connecting with another cycling path towards Quebec city at its southern end in Valcartier (facing the military base). This cycling path follows the old local railway track which was disused during the 80s and stay at a lower level following the valleys until up in the mountains, therefore there it is a pretty easy path to cycle as there is no hill to climb.
Rivière-à-Pierre is the end of the municipality populated territory, it is therefore the gate to the Crown Public Land which are managed by the Reserve Faunique de Portneuf (Faunic Parc) and the 2 ZEC (Ecologically Controlled Zone) of Batiscan-Nelson and Rivière-Blanche. Just at the gate of the Public Land there is the famous Marmitte Waterfalls site.
What are the 'Crown Public Land'? Canada being a 'recent' country and quite huge one, the land is plentiful. So basically the first settlers did set foot and settled down where it was first logic to do so, by the coast and by the St-Lawrence River shore. Which explains that all villages along the St-Lawrence are the oldest settlement in the county (Neuville - Cap-Santé - Deschambault).
As years went by and the population grew, and since the main and only activity was farming, which requires a land and the most wanted where along the riverways, which were giving access to water and transportation. The population gradually made its way further inland, (first following the riverways ... which explains why villages along the rivers are older than others) always behind the previous one as the authorities 'opened' land concession to be taken by settlers and started surveying further north. The concession land called 'rang' were set according to the river patterns. First the St-Lawrence, then the major riverways within the county (Jacques-Cartier River - Ste-Anne River).
Basically, all land yet inoccupied was property of the Authority or the Crown until a 'rang' was open to colonisation. This went by for years and by the 20th Century the colonisation was at about the northern level of St-Léonard, which is just at the edge of the piedmont and where farming is not as good as in the plain by the river. Anyhow, lumbering was also a major economical element and many of these northern land were meant for that. Rivière-à-Pierre was an atypical case, as it 'jumped' the mountainous area to be purely created out of the mine industry need and due to the fact that it was set by a river and connected by train it was created.
The lands in between Rivière-à-Pierre and St-Leonard were let to the local municipality which remained on a Crown Land status though privatised as bought by local resident for lumbering or summer cottages but stayed inoccupied as they were harsh mountainous forestry land.
Rivière-à-Pierre is basically the northern end of where that colonisation system reached by now. So all land between Rivière-à-Pierre and the further northern region remained undivided for settlement and in the hand of the government. This is larger than the actual occupied land.
Of course, the weather in this part of the county is harsh, winters are rude, snowy and cold. The sun doesn't heat the ground long enough during the year to make it proper for exploitation, and the topsoil consists more of rocks than arable lsoil in the few valleys there is.
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