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Lake Saint-Pierre

Video interview

Huguette Caya, Corporation de la Commune de Baie-du-Febvre

Video transcript: View

(6 minutes, 54 seconds)


Hello! I'm Huguette Caya. I was born in Baie-du-Febvre. I'm mainly a farmer and I've been involved in the Corporation de la commune de Baie-du-Febvre for at least six years. I was chair of the Corporation de la Commune until very recently, and I still sit on its board of directors as a trustee. The trustees are responsible for managing and administering the territory of the community pasture.

This community pasture has a long history. It's at least 300 years old. It was created during seigneurial times. The seigneur who came here, to Baie Saint-Antoine which is just over there, set aside a portion of his land so that the colonists could graze their livestock. This lasted from the beginning of the colony until 1822. And for that entire time, from the beginning of the colony until 1822, there were no regulations or anything governing how the pasture was managed. There were huge conflicts concerning the limits of the territory, its ownership, and its management. So, in 1822, the government passed a law, under the King's regime, that formally and strictly set out the identity of this community pasture. It was given a name. An extremely long name: "The chairman and trustees of the common of the Seigneurie of the Baie St. Antoine", commonly called the Baie du Febvre. Because this legal name was so long, it was eventually shortened over time. Now it is generally known as the Commune de Baie-du-Febvre. At the beginning, in 1822, it was not easy to manage this territory. So they created a board of directors, made up of a chair and five trustees, to manage this vast territory. In the beginning, the community pasture was very large. It stretched from its current border near Pierreville, all the way to Nicolet. This extensive territory ran along the entire southern shore of Lake Saint-Pierre. The territory served as a pasture for livestock. Each year, in May, the board of directors would hold an annual meeting to determine how many animals people were allowed to put out to pasture. They could pasture a given number of cattle each year, depending on the vegetation that season. In return, they had to pay an annuity to the Seigneur, based on what they owned.

From 1822 until the 1970s, the territory was largely rented out as an agricultural pasture only, so it was used to pasture livestock. All the farmers would come and work on it, do maintenance. It was truly a shared territory. In 1952, the Quebec government expropriated a large part of the territory and reserved it for the Department of National Defence. The entire portion of the territory between Baie-du-Febvre and Nicolet was expropriated.

Starting in the 1970s, fewer livestock were pastured in the community pasture. A new outlook was developed. What would happen? That's when the purpose of the community pasture began to change a bit. A committee was formed to attempt to determine the future of the community pasture. What could happen in the future? What should be done with this territory? What would its purpose be? A part of the territory, the entire section toward Pierreville, was reserved or leased for wildlife management projects. The section right next to the village of Baie-du-Febvre, on the other side toward Nicolet, was kept as farmland. For several years, that land was leased to farmers, who grew various crops.

Today, the community pasture is still divided into three fairly distinct sections, as it was in 1980. One part is managed by Ducks Unlimited. Another part has been leased to a local farmer under a 30-year contract, half of which has already elapsed. He cultivates all of the farmland in the community pasture. He cultivates 166.3 hectares. He mainly does large-scale farming; sometimes he produces vegetable field crops or cannery crops. The third section covers about three hectares, and is occupied by cabins, as you can see around us. People lease the land here, but the cabins belong to them. These cabins are used as vacation homes. Mostly they are owned by people who love hunting and fishing. They love this place because the landscape is magnificent. These people are not permitted to live here year-round. The cabins are only intended for occasional use, given the environmental and legal constraints.

Very few community pastures remain in Quebec. We need to protect our heritage and preserve our history if we want future generations to enjoy the same wealth we do now. Thank you!

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