Due to strong currents, the passage never freezes. The western shores are bordered by beaches and stark cliffs. Rivers flowing into the Gulf make its water brackish, but a healthy habitat for brook trout and whitefish, seal and beluga.
This sheltered maritime environment also nurtures scattered black spruce and larch, directly in the midst of the surrounding tundra. On the south shore stand the remains of an abandoned Hudson's Bay Company trading post.
From the cliffs of Richmond Gulf there is a spectacular view to the west of Hudson Bay and the nearby Nastapoka Islands. Loons, eider ducks and peregrine falcons nest therein summer. Nastapoka River is located 30 km to the north and is home to scenic 30 metres high waterfalls.
The Inuit negotiated a clause into the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement to provide for their relocation from Kuujjuaraapik to the Richmond Gulf. In 1982, via referendum, they opted to create a new community where they could preserve their traditional lifestyle in an area where fish and game could not be threatened by the proposed hydroelectric installation. After numerous archaeological, ecological and land-planning studies, construction of the little village began in the summer of 1985 and ended in December of 1986, during which time new residents camped out on the site of their new village.
Visit Clearwater Lake, the third largest in Quebec, as well as Seal Lake and Lower Seal Lake where a population of seal has adapted to fresh water. In the offices of the municipal council in the village, you can view a collection of traditional tools and household items, as well as artifacts found during the archaeological excavations that preceded construction of the village.
Photo Credit : Alexis Beaulieu