Rio Tinto Alma - Photo given by Tourisme Alma Lac-Saint-Jean
Rio Tinto Alma - Photo given by Tourisme Alma Lac-Saint-Jean

History: Specialization and economic diversification 1930 until today

Here’s an introduction to the economic industry of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. Which industrial sectors are overlooking our economy in the regions? And what pride do we attach to it?

Regional flag

When the city of Chicoutimi celebrated its 100th anniversary on June 11, 1938, the Saguenay region adopted a flag. After all, Chicoutimi seemed to be destined to a bright future, some saying it would become the Chicago of the Northeast.

The colours and the meaning of their positioning on the flag are not haphazard:

The green stands for the lush boreal forest, a major player in our environment and bearer of economic activity. It is placed on top to represent its ancient heritage, its notoriety.

Agriculture is at the bottom of the flag, in golden yellow, to show that agriculture supports and produces life.

The aluminium industry was already a major player and its future seemed promising. That is the reason behind the silvery colour at the centre of the flag. It also represents industry and commerce as a whole.

The colour red, for its part, represents the vitality, the living force of the regional population who, despite their ordeals, past and future, will always stand tall.

The last two colours, silver and bright red, are set in a cross pattern to remind us of our Christian past. At the time, in 1938, religion had a far stronger presence and was a major aspect of people’s lives.


The flag, initially intended for the Saguenay area of the region, subsequently came to represent the entire Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. The first to adopt a flag, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is still today the only region in Québec with its own banner.

During the war

WWII served as a launching pad for Alcan and its aluminium production as aviation had become a key to warfare… and what material is widely used in airplane construction? Aluminium, an innovative, light and durable material! That period in history was therefore a turning point for the industry as expansion, modernization, and new power dams became necessary. Of course, the economic boom created by the war was beneficial to the region and employment, population and business development were all on the rise.

On the other hand, war also means sacrifices. Many young men were lost to their families because of the war. Every family (or almost) has a story to tell; self-mutilation to avoid the draft, hurried marriages and escapes into the back country. Today, one of the hiding places is open to visitors, in the town of Desbiens in the Lac-Saint-Jean area: it is a cave called Caverne du Trou de la Fée.

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