New UNESCO World Heritage Site: Anticosti Island

Anticosti Island, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, has recently been added to the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Known for its picturesque landscapes and rich biodiversity, the island has now gained recognition for its significant paleontological record.

As the largest island in Quebec, Anticosti boasts a diverse range of natural wonders, including deep canyons, waterfalls, and numerous caves. Its 550 kilometers of coastline and thriving deer population make it a unique and captivating destination for visitors.

However, Anticosti’s journey to becoming a World Heritage Site has not been without challenges. In the past, the island was considered a potential site for oil and gas exploration. However, after concerns raised by residents and environmentalists, the decision was made to protect its natural character and pursue the UNESCO designation instead. This led to a compensation payout of approximately $62 million to the affected oil and gas companies.

With its newly acquired heritage status, Anticosti Island will provide a valuable resource for world-class scientists. The island’s fossil record of marine life spanning 10 million years offers a unique opportunity to study the first mass extinction of animal life that occurred 447-437 million years ago. This knowledge contributes to a better understanding of historical climate change and rising sea levels.

The heritage designation is seen as a new era for Anticosti Island, as it anticipates an influx of visitors. To accommodate this, there are plans to improve the island’s infrastructure. Mayor Hélène Boulanger emphasizes the importance of enhancing the island’s facilities while maintaining its natural integrity.

This recognition is not only significant for Anticosti Island but also for the Innu communities of Ekuanitshit and Nutashkuan. They consider the island to be of great spiritual and cultural importance. Thanks to the collaboration of various communities and governmental entities, Anticosti Island has achieved this prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Anticosti Island joins the ranks of 22 other Canadian sites on the UNESCO list. It is the third site in Quebec, following Old Quebec City’s historic center and Miguasha National Park on the Gaspé Peninsula. The island’s addition to this esteemed list further solidifies its position as a remarkable and scientifically valuable destination.


1. What is the significance of Anticosti Island being added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list?

Anticosti Island’s addition to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list recognizes its unique paleontological record and outstanding universal value to humanity. It provides valuable insights into a crucial moment in Earth’s history – the first mass extinction of animal life.

2. How will becoming a World Heritage Site impact Anticosti Island?

The heritage designation is expected to attract more visitors to the island, necessitating improvements to its infrastructure. It also serves as a significant milestone for the Innu communities of Ekuanitshit and Nutashkuan, who consider the island to be of great importance to their spiritual values, identity, and culture.

3. What other sites in Quebec have UNESCO World Heritage Site status?

Apart from Anticosti Island, Old Quebec City’s historic center and Miguasha National Park on the Gaspé Peninsula are the other two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Quebec. These sites represent Quebec’s rich history, culture, and natural heritage.