Its geographic advantages (deep bay, neighbouring rivers with strong flows, huge forestry resources) led Colonel Robert R. McCormick, publisher of The Chicago Tribune, to build a paper mill and create a town in 1937. It took the name of Napoléon-Alexandre Comeau, a celebrated north shore naturalist. During the 1950s, Baie-Comeau grew rapidly: the Quebec North Shore Paper Co enlarged and renovated its paper factory, a huge ALUMINUM company (Reynolds) came in 1958 and grain silos (Cargill Grain Co) in 1960.
The economic growth of the town and region was stimulated by the 1960 construction of a 448 km highway linking north shore towns and the 1959-79 harnessing of the hydroelectric potential of the Outardes and Manicouagan rivers. The Manic-Outardes complex built by HYDRO-QUÉBEC supplies Québec City's electricity. The Daniel Johnson Dam (Manic 5), 210 km north of Baie-Comeau, is one of the world's largest. The aluminum smelter has expanded to become the largest in North America. Baie-Comeau is also endowed with a deepwater sea port. Baie-Comeau is the birthplace of Brian MULRONEY, former prime minister of Canada.
Author CLAUDINE PIERRE-DESCHENES