Museums and the Web 2005
Demonstrations: Description
Photo Credits

See museum applications demonstrated by the people who created them.

History of a little community

Line Bouffard, Centre d'archives régional des Îles, Canada

Demonstration: Demonstrations - Session 2

Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine or Magdalen Island is a little community belong to the Province of Quebec. In 2001, the population totalled 13 295 inhabitants. Most of them are descendant from Acadians and speak French but there is also five percent Anglophones, largely of Scottish descent.

The archipelago of the Magdalen Islands is located in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or more precisely: 215 km from the Gaspé peninsula, 105 km from Prince Edward Island and 95 km from Cape Breton Island. The Islands are in the shape of a half moon stretching across a distance of 65 km in a south-west/north-easterly direction. Islanders live in the Atlantic Time Zone, one hour ahead of the rest of the Province of Quebec.

The archipelago comprises about a dozen islands of which six are connected to one another by long, thin, sand dunes. The names of the islands (from north to south) are: île de la Grande Entrée and Grosse Isle, île aux Loups, île du Havre aux Maisons, Île du Cap aux Meules and île du Havre Aubert. Two other islands are part of the archipelago as well: Entry Island, inhabited and located 10 km east of Havre Aubert Island; and île Brion, 16 km north of Grosse Isle. From January 2002, the archipelago will be under the municipal jurisdiction of one city: the Municipality of the Iles de la Madeleine. There are other smaller islands and islets, which are part of the Magdalen Island archipelago: rocher aux Oiseaux, île aux Loups-marins, île aux Cochons and rocher du Corps Mort among others.

Madelinots are familiar with the trials and tribulations of maritime life. Many tragic shipwrecks have been recorded (more than 400), and these were more than often foreign ships swept ashore in storms while passing the islands. Survivors often decided to make the Islands their home. Legends and extraordinary stories colour the Islanders' oral tradition, kept alive from the time when isolation was almost complete. Although modern methods of communication have eased this isolation, the Madelinots still maintain their unique way of life and retain their distinctive accent. It is Quebec's smallest historical region, located amid the richest fishing grounds of the Gulf of St. Laurence.

Emigrating Madelinots founded several villages on Quebec's Lower North Shore: Blanc-Sablon (1854), Havre Saint-Pierre, Natashquan (1855), and Sept-Îles (1872). Only in 1895 did a Quebec law allow the Madelinots to buy back their lands from the grant holder. Freed from colonial oppression, they began to overcome their difficulties and work towards self-sufficiency.

That's what we try to present in an exhibition about the last thirty years of the history of Magdalen Island. From press cutting of the weekly journal of the French speaking of the Magdalen Island, Le Radar, we introduce the main events of each year. Each event have pictures, texts, press cuttings, short presentation and tackle different aspects of the insularity.

The project was realised in six months by three young persons of the Island supervised by an informatics technician.

Line Bouffard is a recipient of a Canadian Professional Scholarship.