Saguenay [key], river, c.125 mi (200 km) long, S Que., Canada. It issues from Lac Saint Jean, or Lake Saint John (c.375 sq mi/970 sq km), in two channels, the Grande Décharge and the Petite Décharge, separated by the Île d'Alma, and flows generally SE past St. Joseph d'Alma, Arvida, and Chicoutimi, to the St. Lawrence River at Tadoussac. Navigable below Chicoutimi, it flows through a picturesque gorge whose banks rise to more than 1,500 ft (457 m) at Eternity and Trinity capes. The Peribonca River is its chief tributary. The Saguenay was first visited (1535) by Cartier, and Champlain explored its lower reaches in 1603. For more than three centuries it was a route traveled by explorers, missionaries, and fur traders; later it became a major lumber transportation route and the approach to noted hunting and fishing areas. In the 20th cent. pulp and paper mills and important hydroelectric stations (especially those at Shipshaw and Chute à Caron) were built on the banks of the river and some of its tributaries, and at Jonquière is one of the world's largest aluminum plants. Excursions up the Saguenay by steamer from Quebec have long been a tourist attraction.
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