Saguenay, QC, Canada

Saguenay is located at the end of the magnificent Saguenay River Fjord in Quebec, Canada. The mostly French-speaking destination consists of three boroughs. Each is proud to show you their heritage sites. Saguenay is an increasingly popular port of call for cruise ships, especially at the peak of autumn foliage.

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1 Saguenay River Fjord to Saguenay, Canada

If you are cruising to Saguenay in Quebec Province, you will first travel along the St. Lawrence River. You ship will turn west at Tadoussac, the site of Canada’s first fur trading post founded in 1599. You will then sail 78 miles upstream along the Saguenay River. Be prepared to be amazed. This marvelous fjord was formed by tectonic activities and carved during the last glaciation period over 13,000 years ago. The rounded cliffs defining the valley range from 975 to 1,500 feet high. As you near your destination, the majestic Saguenay River Fjord is about 2.2 miles wide with a water depth of 780 feet. Along the way, you will see isolated homes, quaint villages and, if you are lucky, blue whales. The origin for the 110 mile Saguenay River is at Lake Saint-Jean west of Saguenay. The name Saguenay is derived from the Innu word Saki-nip meaning “where water flows out.”

Rivière Saguenay, Saguenay, Canada

2 Ha! Ha! Bay in Saguenay, Canada

Toward the end of your cruise to Saguenay, your ship enters an arm of the Saguenay River Fjord called Ha! Ha! Bay (Baie des Ha! Ha! in French). The cove is 6.8 miles long and almost three miles wide. The autumn foliage – a carpet of yellows, oranges, reds and greens – is fabulous. This area was largely uninhabited except for some nomadic Innu people until 1838 when a sawmill was constructed. Population growth was very limited while the Hudson’s Bay Company controlled the territory from 1821 until 1842. Then, Bagot Village was founded and evolved into Grande-Baie.

Rivière Saguenay, La Baie, QC G7B 3N7, Canada

3 Cruise Ship Docked at La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

Saguenay is a relatively new port of call for cruise passengers. The first ship arrived in 2006. After the terminal was built in 2009, the city quickly became a crowd-pleasing stop on other Canadian cruise itineraries. Now, over 60 ships per year dock for the day at La Baie. Saguenay is also popular among residents of Québec City. The direct north, 140 mile trip can be driven in about 2.5 hours.

900 Rue Mars, La Baie, Quebec G7B 3, Canada

4 City Composition of Saguenay, Canada

You will disembark at Port Village, a new moniker for the old industrial Port-Alfred. Within a few steps of the Cruise Pavilion (lower right), you will be greeted by a large sign spelling Saguenay with a red heart (center). This is one of the rare occasions when you will see or hear the name Saguenay. Despite having a population of less than 150,000, the city is geographically complex. It was formed in 2002 by combining three towns: Chicoutimi, La Baie and Jonquière. Each borough is fiercely loyal to their old name and identity. They compete for the attention of tourists. You cannot do justice to all three in a single day. This travel guide focuses first on Chicoutimi and then La Baie.

900 Rue Mars, La Baie, QC G7B 3N7, Canada

5 Sightseeing Options for Exploring Saguenay, Canada

There are plenty of options for exploring Saguenay yet most require transportation from the port. Outside of the cruise terminal are tour operators and taxis. They are all eager to show you the highlights. Another option is the hop-on/hop off bus. They offer two circuits to Chicoutimi and La Baie. An exhilarating experience is aboard a helicopter operated by Peak Aviation. You will relish every minute of the aerial views of the city, Ha! Ha! Bay and the Saguenay River Fjord.

900 Rue Mars, La Baie, QC G7B 3N7, Canada

6 Introduction to Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

Chicoutimi is about 11 miles from the cruise terminal. The Innu name means “End of the deep waters.” This area began as a French trading post and Jesuit mission in 1676. This borough of Saguenay now has a population of 60,000 residents. Chicoutimi is Saguenay’s downtown. They position themselves as the Cultural Crescent. The main street is Rue Racine. Your walking tour begins at the former post office. The handsome Second Empire façade of L’Hôtel des Postes was finished in 1905. In 1996, it was refurbished as an office building.

497 Rue Racine E, Chicoutimi, QC G7H 1T8, Canada

7 Former Bon-Pasteur Boarding School in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

Across the street from the old post office is a former boarding school for girls. It was established in 1907 by the Bon-Pasteur Sisters, a community of nuns founded in Quebec by Marie-Josephte Fitzbach in 1850. This building designed by Alfred Lamontagne opened in 1927. It later became Lycée du Saguenay (Saguenay High School) and is now Le Chik Condominiums.

225 Rue du Séminaire, Chicoutimi, QC G7H 4J2, Canada

8 St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

It is impossible to miss the twin bell towers of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral on Racine Street. The Renaissance Revival façade is impressive for a community the size of Chicoutimi. The parish was founded in 1859 and named after the Diocese of Chicoutimi’s patron saint. Two previous cathedrals were built here in 1878 and 1915. Both succumbed to fire. The current La Cathédrale de Chicoutimi dates back to 1922. The visual highlight of this Roman Catholic church is the artwork embellishing the dome ceiling.

514 Rue Racine E, Chicoutimi, QC G7H 1T8, Canada

9 The Port Zone in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

Continue your exploration of city center by walking along Rue Racine. There is a terrific tourist information office at 295 Rue Racine East. The friendly staff can provide maps, answer questions and explain the three heritage circuits in downtown. Then, turn right at Rue la Fontaine and head toward the water’s edge of the Saguenay River. From 1873 until 1985, this area was the old port of Chicoutimi. In the early 1990s, the city transformed Vieux Port into a recreational park named The Port Zone (Zone Portuaire de Chicoutimi).

49 Rue la Fontaine, Chicoutimi, QC G7H 7Y7, Canada

10 Port Zone Riverside Boardwalk in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

You will thoroughly enjoy your time at The Port Zone. The family-oriented park features 6,500 shrubs, 7,500 perennials and 1,500 aquatic plants. In the center is the Sainte-Anne Fountain. The water jets are encircled by a reflection pond and accented with sculptures of dolphins plus a breaching whale. Best of all is the boardwalk alongside the Saguenay River.

49 Rue la Fontaine, Chicoutimi, QC G7H 7Y7, Canada

11 Confluence of Two Rivers in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

When The Port Zone ends at Saint Paul Boulevard, another walking path begins at Parc du Bassin. The trail takes you along the Chicoutimi River at the end of its 16 mile flow before emptying into the Saguenay River. This confluence of rivers is historic. The French built a trading post here in 1676. The site was the oldest European settlement in today’s Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.

Boulevard Saint-Paul, Chicoutimi, QC G7J 1E9, Canada

12 La Maison Price in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

After the Hudson’s Bay Company’s monopolistic property lease expired in 1842, Peter McLeod, Jr. and his partner William Price decided to build a flour and saw mill in Secteur du Bassin at the terminus of the Chicoutimi River. Employees were paid in “pitons” redeemable for goods at Price’s store. This doubled as his office. In 2009, the historic property of the William Price Company was restored and became Maison Price (Price House). Today, it operates as a youth hostel named L’Auberge Jeunesse de Saguenay.

110 Rue Price O, Chicoutimi, QC G7J 1G8, Canada

13 La Commère Magasin Général in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

La Commère Magasin Général is a new shopping experience in Chicoutimi. Located in a 1910 house, The General Store has an early 20th century decor. Inside you can browse among crafts produced by local artisans and Indigenous people. You are bound to find a unique souvenir of your trip to Chicoutimi. Afterwards, have a seat on a porch rocking chair while gabbing with your travel partner.

194 Rue Price O, Chicoutimi, QC G7J 1H1, Canada

14 Little White House in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

On July 19 and 20, 1996, a massive thunderstorm pounded Chicoutimi. The nearly ten inches of torrential rain triggered a catastrophic event know as The Saguenay Flood. Huge volumes of water overcame five dams and spillways before thundering into the Bassin District. The surge totally destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of houses. Only one remained standing: the former home of Elzéard Gagnon built in 1890. La Petite Maison Blanche (The Little White House) is now a museum about the flood. Notice the water pouring out of the red door. Surrounding the historic landmark is a municipal park where the neighboring residences were previously located.

251 Rue Bossé, Chicoutimi, QC G7J0K3, Canada

15 Sacré-Cœur Church in Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

Within eyesight of The Little White House is the towering spire of Sacré-Cœur Church. Paroisse Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart Parish) was founded by the Eudist Fathers. The Neo-Gothic façade of this Roman Catholic church was designed by architect René-Pamphile Lemay. The Church of the Sacred Heart was built in 1905 yet the interior was not finished until 1929. Surprisingly, it and the adjoining presbytery were spared during The Saguenay Flood in 1996. Step inside for a quick tour and a visit to the Sacré-Coeur Museum.

244 Rue Bossé, Chicoutimi, QC G7J 1L9, Canada

16 Main Entrance of La Pulperie de Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

Outside the main entrance of La Pulperie de Chicoutimi is steam locomotive number 15, manufactured by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1923. This former workhorse of Saguenay Power promises you will have a fascinating time inside this heritage attraction. The Old Chicoutimi Pulp Mill was founded in 1896 and was a major producer of newsprint until 1930. Almost 2,000 employees worked at the Chicoutimi Pulp Company during the peak years. Since 2002, Old Mill 4 has housed a regional museum. Among the exhibits are interactive displays and a film about the local history and milling industry. You will also admire an extensive collection of over 26,000 artworks.

300 Rue Dubuc, Chicoutimi, QC G7J 4M1, Canada

17 Interpretive Trails at La Pulperie de Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

If La Pulperie de Chicoutimi were only a standalone museum, it would be well worth your time. But the complex is so much more. Encircling the main building is a 74 acre urban park called Jardin des Vestiges. There is a network of interpretative trails to see the heritage buildings (dating from 1898 to 1923) as well as a hydroelectric dam on the Chicoutimi River. In the foreground is Mill #3. It was constructed on Electric Island in 1912 to augment the adjacent Moulin Saint-Joseph from 1898. Admission to the park is free but the museum requires a modest fee.

300 Rue Dubuc, Chicoutimi, QC G7J 4M1, Canada

18 Fjord Museum in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

The next destination on your sightseeing itinerary is the Grande-Baie sector of La Baie, one of three boroughs of Saguenay. Your first stop is the Fjord Museum where you will be greeted by this massive Triceratops. Since 1983, Musée du Fjord has been devoted to the historical, natural, cultural and artistic heritage of Saguenay Fjord and the Bay of Ha! Ha! where it is located. Of special interest are the 3D multimedia show and a large saltwater aquarium stocked with 650 species of local marine life.

3346 Boulevard de la Grande-Baie-Sud, La Baie, QC G7B 1G2, Canada

19 Mermaid Statue in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

This is Henriette the mermaid. In 2010, artist Jérémie Giles created an interesting folk story about his sculpture. Henriette originally lived near the Magdalen Islands, a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. She then swam into the St. Lawrence River, up the Saguenay Fjord and into Ha! Ha! Bay. A few feet offshore behind the Fjord Museum, she was tragically struck by lightning and transformed into aluminum.

3346 Boulevard de la Grande-Baie-Sud, La Baie, QC G7B 1G2, Canada

20 Migrating Snow Geese in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

Birdwatchers, grab your binoculars. You will want to witness the autumn migration of greater snow geese at Ha! Ha! Bay in La Baie. These magnificent birds breed in the Canadian High Artic. In September, approximately 700,000 begin their 2,500 mile journey along the Atlantic flyway to their wintering grounds in the United States. During early October, huge concentrations begin arriving here to rest and feed. Thousands more appear throughout the month. Their white plumage glistens against the sky and along the mudflats. The chorus of bird calls is intense. Near the end of the month, they will suddenly disappear overnight.

3346 Boulevard de la Grande-Baie-Sud, La Baie, QC G7B 1G2, Canada

21 Church of Saint-Alexis in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

The first colonists along Ha! Ha! Bay arrived in 1838 and then built a sawmill to process their aggressive logging of white pine. Bagot Township (today’s Grande-Baie) grew rapidly after the milling operations were acquired by William Price in 1842. By mid-century, the residents needed a religious infrastructure. The Church of Saint-Alexis was built in 1868. This was followed by a presbytery a decade later. During the first half of the 1900s, the Sainte-Marie Convent and Saint-Joseph School were added. This collection is called the Heritage Site Saint-Alexis of Grande-Baie.

3291 Boulevard de la Grande-Baie-Sud, La Baie, QC G7B 1G1, Canada

22 Glassblowing Gallery in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

A common stop during guided excursions of La Baie is Touverre. The glass workshop was started by Giuseppe Benedetto in 1993. Since then, he has been delighting visitors with his glassblowing techniques. His creations range from simple birds, bells, fruit and jewelry to elaborate plates, vases and sculptures.

3205 Boulevard de la Grande-Baie-Sud, La Baie, QC G7B 1G1, Canada

23 Ha! Ha! Pyramid in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

The Little White House is an iconic symbol of how the Saguenay Flood devastated Chicoutimi in 1996. But residents of Grande-Baie Sector were equally traumatized. Within a year, artist Jean-Jules Soucy was commissioned to create a commemorative monument along the banks of the Ha! Ha! River. Ha! Ha! Pyramid was finished in 1998. You may wonder why the 69 foot pyramid is covered with over 3,000 yield signs. It is because the French word for yield (céder) is pronounced like s’aider which translates to help each other. Near the top is an observation deck overlooking Ha! Ha! Park plus the river and bay.

3000 Rue Monseigneur Dufour, La Baie, QC G7B 4L3, Canada

24 Air Defense Museum in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

If you have enough time, the Air Defense Museum is worth visiting in La Baie. Outside are several vintage airplanes such as this Canadair CF-5, CF-116 Freedom Fighter. Inside the museum are displays about the heroic actions and heartbreaking defeats of Canadian pilots in the Royal Canadian Air Force. You will also enjoy a tour of the Bagotville military base.

6513 Chemin St Anicet, La Baie, QC G7B 3N8, Canada

25 La Maison Lepage in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

You have now experienced the major places to see in the boroughs of Chicoutimi and La Baie. When you return to the Cruise Pavilion, you have a couple of options. You can shop among the artisans before boarding the ship. Or you can walk a few blocks into Port Village (which is technically part of La Baie). You will soon encounter La Maison Lepage on Rue Victoria. The 1861 home and surrounding land was purchased in 1870 by François-Xavier Lepage. He was a successful businessman and builder of the local wharf. The White House, as the locals nicknamed the residence, remained in the family until 1954. The historic Agéberas-Lepage home was restored in 2017.

781 Rue Victoria, La Baie, QC G7B 2W9, Canada

26 Saint-Alphonse-de-Liguori Church in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

The most visible landmark from the cruise terminal is the bell tower of Saint-Alphonse-de-Liguori Church. Built in 1862, it is the oldest stone church in the region. The complete construction of the simple Neoclassical façade, spire and interior required 70 years and was finished in 1930.

864 Rue de la Fabrique, La Baie, QC G7B 3M6, Canada

27 Public Market in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

Adjacent to Saint-Alphonse-de-Liguori Church is the Public Market. It is frequently highlighted in city brochures and maps. You might be a bit disappointed when you arrive. It consists of a few wooden shacks operated by locals marketing their arts and crafts. Yet, you might discover the perfect souvenir of your trip to Saguenay.

921 Rue de la Fabrique, La Baie, QC G7B 3M6, Canada

28 Centenary Cross in La Baie, Saguenay, Canada

If you prefer physical activities with a view over standard sightseeing, then Centenary Cross will appeal to you. The religious monument by Johnny Tremblay was erected in 1938. Croix du centenaire is located high on a wooded cliff overlooking Ha! Ha! Bay. The 2.8 mile trail begins at La Baie Marina. The hike requires a couple of hours and can be challenging at times. Yet the scenery along the way and the vista at the summit are worth the effort.

Croix du Centenaire, La Baie, QC G7B 0G3, Canada

29 Notre-Dame-du-Saguenay Statue in Saguenay, Canada

As you sail back through the Saguenay River Fjord after an exhilarating day trip, be watchful for Notre-Dame-du-Saguenay. Your ship captain or cruise director will probably announce when you are approaching this image of Virgin Mary. She has hands clasped in prayer and is crowned by a ring of stars. The sculpture was carved from white pine in 1881 by Louis Jobin. Then, the 29.5 foot tall statue was hoisted onto Cape Trinité. According to legend, Our Lady of Saguenay was commissioned by Charles Napoléon Robitaille after he broke through the ice and almost drowned until he pleaded for salivation to the Mother of God.

Notre-Dame-du-Saguenay, Rivière-Éternité, Quebec G0V 1P0, Canada

Fabulous Fall Foliage near Saguenay, Canada

The pièce de résistance of your cruise through eastern Canada during the autumn is the foliage. Miles and miles and miles of spectacular! So, sit back on your balcony while sipping a cocktail and savor the scenery. This is nature’s artistry at its best.