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Baie-Comeau’s History

Colonel McCormick and Monseigneur Labrie or Baie-Comeau and Hauterive

In the 1910s, Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick, owner of the Chicago Tribune (and later the New York Daily News), was a major American industrialist. Hoping to reduce production costs by building his own newsprint mill, he turned to the Manicouagan River timber reserves to supplement his supply. 


In 1937, after months of construction work, a city began to take shape: Baie-Comeau! By the end of the year, there were over a hundred houses, a church, and even a hotel… and of course, a paper mill!

At the end of World War II, the bells of the Sainte-Amélie Church announced the end of the war and, in April 1948, Monseigneur Napoléon-Alexandre Labrie founded the city of Hauterive, near the Amédée River. There, he built a hospital, a seminary, and established his diocese. A twin city was born!

Electricity and Aluminum: The Core of Economic Life

A few years later, the hydroelectric and aluminum industries found their way to the surrounding rivers and our deep-water port. 

Hydro-Québec began the construction of a series of new dams. “La Manic,” a now famous name, became attached to the Manicouagan region for generations to come. It inspired many, including Georges Dor. However, locals here are never bored!

In 1957, this new energy capacity attracted the attention of Canadian British Aluminum (CBA). It opened a plant (later known as the Reynolds Metals Company and then Alcoa) in Baie-Comeau and founded the Saint-Georges district, near the port. 

Brian Mulroney’s Birthplace

Baie-Comeau is also the birthplace of Canada’s 18th Prime Minister and one of the city’s most illustrious ambassadors, Brian Mulroney. Born in 1939, he is a member of one of the pioneer families that settled in Baie-Comeau in its early days. As a child, he even sang for Colonel McCormick. 

Today, this man is a respected figure honoured by many countries and prestigious institutions, a defender of humanitarian causes around the globe, and a source of pride for us all. There is a commemorative bust of him in his honour in front of City Hall. 

Forced Merger and Friendships

In 1982, Baie-Comeau merged with the neighbouring city, Hauterive. It was not without friction. Fortunately, after a few years of heated rivalry, a friendly rivalry developed and now serves as the basis of a few jokes between the locals of the Marquette (originally Baie-Comeau) and the Mingan (originally Hauterive) sectors, who now get along wonderfully! 

As we enter the 2020s, our city has a population of nearly 20,000 residents and is among the driving forces behind Côte-Nord’s economic activity. 

A Show to Celebrate Our History

To learn more about our history, come see the Baie-Comeau, d’aventure et de culture show in the summer. This magical and colourful musical evening featuring a variety of anecdotes about our unique and surprising history awaits you!

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