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Outfitters and Zecs

Printed card with handmade drawings : animals, tourist attractions as coloured icons.

Tourist map from 1967, presenting attractions in the North-West (Quebec).

After the Government’s abolishment of the exclusive rights to hunting and fishing, the private clubs are progressively replaced by outfitters. An outfitter is a company that offers accommodations, services and equipment for the practise of hunting, fishing and other activities. There are over a hundred found in the region, the biggest concentration of outfitters in Quebec.

Advertisement in a digital newspaper with three pictures showing hunting and fishing.

A newspaper page of La Frontière of Rouyn-Noranda from 1962, talking about the benefits of nature-based tourism in Témiscamingue : “Miraculous Fishing – Plentiful Hunting – Wonderful Nature».

But at the end of the 70’s, in addition to their changes, the government also wanted to make progress in the protection and conservation of wildlife. The territories are granted to hunting and fishing associations or leisure and recreation organizations. At this point, the challenge is to provide structure and public access to these new natural spaces: a legal framework needs to be put in place, and management regulations to ensure their financing and delegate regulatory powers. This is what we call the era of “operation fauna” («opération faune»).

Black and white picture of women on a fishing trip, fishing rods in hand, some on a dock and some on a canoe.

A group of women on a fishing trip. Probably in the 1930s.

This gives birth to the Controlled Harvesting Zones (Zecs “zones d’exploitation contrôlée”) that are managed by none-profit organizations, made up of local citizens. Between 1978 and 1979 five Zecs are created in the region, and one in 1989, the Kipawa Zec, which happens to be the largest in Quebec. The Zecs in Abitibi-Témiscamingue cover a space that represents 13% of the regions territory. A new organized network of infrastructure for recreational and leisure activities in the nature is put in place and becomes standardized. It is a legacy that till this day hunters, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts continue to take full advantage of.

I will need a new pair of boots; my fillet knife will need to be sharpened; need to get the boats engine started up; the boat itself needs cleaning, and an examination of all the accessories. I need to keep myself occupied in order to stop daydreaming of that marvelous day when I can launch my boat…
Ah! It’s a long wait for the spring thaw!

– René Duval

– Excerpt from Abitibi : mon pays, mes humeurs.
Published in
L’Écho Abitibien,
Val-d’Or, Imprimerie Lebonfon, 1980, p. 21, by René Duval.
Coloured picture of two men fishing on a dock in front of a lake.

Fishermen at Rémigny Lake in 1971.