The Road to Radisson

The Northernmost Paved Road in Eastern Canada

The northernmost paved road in Eastern Canada runs 852 kilometers north from Amos, Quebec, to Radisson on La Grande Rivière, where in the 1970s Hydro Quebec constructed the largest underground powerhouse in the world. The two La Grande generating stations here supply over half Quebec's electricity, and free tours are easily arranged. Aside from the powerhouse 137 meters below the surface, the 10 steps of the gigantic granite stairway is a manmade sight of the first order.

Aside from the yearround James Bay Highway, a well maintained 428-kilometer gravel road via Chibougamau links up with the main highway west of Nemiscau, making a circle trip possible. The trees become smaller as you travel north to Radisson in the northern taiga zone. For some strange reason, these good roads aren't marked on the tourist maps and Radisson isn't in most travel guides.

From near Radisson, the shores of James Bay are easily accessible on a 90-kilometer paved highway which follows the river to Chisasibi (population 3,000), one of four Cree Indian communities on this side of James Bay. Unlike Ontario where the town of Moosonee is only accessible on the Polar Bear Express railway from Cochrane, Chisasibi is easily reached by car. The salty waters of James Bay are only 15 kilometers beyond the town on a gravel road. It's one of the few places where you can dip your fingers in an arm of Hudson Bay without boarding a train or plane.

From the series Unknown Sights of Canada by David Stanley

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