La Tabatière

The fishing village of La Tabatière is located on La Tabatière Bay, opposite Big Mecatina Island (île du Gros Mécatina in French). The village is home to a fish processing plant and reservoirs to supply vessels that serve this part of the region.

This village is one of two communities that form the municipality of Gros Mecatina and is located in the Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent Regional County Municipality (Gulf of St. Lawrence), in Côte-Nord Region (North Shore) of Quebec (in the Lower North Shore), near the border with Labrador. The second village is Mutton Bay.

The origin of its name (French for "the snuff box") could refer to the loss of a tobacco pouch by a missionary, but more plausible version sustains that the name is a corruption of a Native American word tabaquen, changed into tapatienne and then tabatière, as can be seen in the name of the local parish that in common speech was called Saint-Joseph-de-Tabaquen, especially in correspondence of missionaries under the French regime.  This word means "sorcery", referring to a customary ritual of the local First Nations people.

Indeed, a clergyman visiting the mission in 1887, wrote that the Indian groups who came to stay at this location to trade with the whites would consult witches before leaving the place for their camps in the interior forests, looking for omens for their return trip.

La Tabatière has long been frequented by fishermen and traders, particularly attractive for fishing cod and seals. In 1820, Scotsman Samuel Robertson, former employee of the Gros-Mécatina Post, settled there and founded a permanent settlement.

In 1855, this first colon was joined by settlers from Jersey and the place became known by the English name Spark Point. In 1885, the catholic mission Saint-Joseph-de-la-Tabatière was established and La Tabatière post office began operations on November 1, 1907. In the 1930s, the seal oil rendering and fish oil factory burned down and was rebuilt as a fish-processing plant which today is the largest on the Lower North Coast.

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