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Radisson Ecological Research Station



Field Station Management

General information:  

The station is the property of the Radisson municipality. It is run and operated by the following three member institutions of the Centre for Northern Studies (CEN-Centre d’études nordiques): Université Laval, Université du Québec à Rimouski and Centre Eau, Terre et Environnement of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique. The station has a long term lease with the municipality. The CEN secretariat based at Université Laval oversees the management of the station. This station is part of the CEN Network, more precisely the Qaujisarvik Network of stations, and is the most southerly station of the Network at 53°N.

Location:   The station is in the centre of the village of Radisson (53 ° 47’ 29’’ N, 77° 36’ 37’’W), a small village of approximately 350 inhabitants situated on the margins of the Robert-Bourassa (LG2) hydroelectric reservoir, part of the La Grande River hydroelectric complex.
Owner:   Centre for Northern Studies (CEN) and the Radisson Locality
Institution in charge:   CEN at Université Laval
Address:   30, 32, 34 and 36 Couture
Radisson, Quebec,
J0Y 2X0
Opening year:   1999
Operational period:   Year-round
Station networks:  

Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators

INTERACT - International network for terrestrial research and monitoring in the arctic


Keywords:   Fire prone boreal forest, extensive peatlands, hydroelectrical reservoirs, valley, lakes, rivers, mines, wetlands.
Climate:   Subarctic
Temperature:   Mean annual temp. -3 °C ; Mean temp. in February -21.6 °C ; Mean temp. in July 13.7 °C.
Winds:   Mean annual wind speed 4.5 m/s ; Max. wind speed 37 m/s ; Dominant wind direction - West.
Precipitations:   Rain and snow ; total annual precipitation 684 mm.
Ice breakup:   River and sea in May
Permafrost:   Sporadic
Altitude:   135 m at the station ; 0 m to 135 m in study area.
Natural environment:  

Radisson is surrounded by the eastern Canadian Shield taiga with Boreal dominated by black spruce and grey pine. The region is relatively poor in plant species diversity with about 350 vascular plant species, yet wildlife diversity is rich with 40 mammal species and 60 bird species.

Forest fires are a very dynamic element of the region, sculpting the landscape into natural mosaics nested between rocky hills which confine the lower wetlands (mainly lakes and bogs). From 1989 to 1996, forest fires within the town of Radisson considerably changed the landscape.

Radisson is situated in a postglacial marine invasion and drainage is limited due to the presence of clay in the lowlands. The region has been studied and monitored extensively since 1974 in the context of the development of the hydroelectric complex. Consequently, Hydro-Québec and the Société d’énergie de la baie de James have produced several syntheses on the area.

Human dimension:  

The town of Radisson is located on the south shore of the La Grande River, which drains waters from the LaGrande hydroelectric complex. Despite its remoteness, Radisson offers a wide array of services: gas station, hardware and a grocery store.



Anthropology; sociology; archeology; atmospheric chemistry and physics; environmental science; geology and sedimentology; geophysics; glaciology; geocryology; geomorphology; soil science; mapping GIS, oceanography and fishery; microbiology; hydrology; terrestrial biology; ecology; paleolimnology; paleoecology; limnology.

Current research :  

Forest dynamics at the limit between boreal and subarctic environments in relation to natural disturbances and climate change; ecology of boreal conifers; influence of large northern water bodies and variations in water levels; tree ring analysis of past hydro-climatological variations; recent dynamics of peatlands and impacts of climate change.

Past research:  

Past research has focused on regional ecosystem dynamics, specifically on the response of the forest to disturbances such as fire and insect outbreaks, dendrochronology, riparian vegetation, snow, secular variations in water levels, hydrology, climate and reservoirs, greenhouse gas emission by reservoirs, and limnology. Research topics have covered issues on wildlife (birds, caribou, small mammals, and fish) and vegetation (biodiversity).

This list of scientific publications is a subset of the publications produced by CEN researchers in the area.

Permits and licensing:  

A permit is not required to access the station nor to conduct research in the area. However, be aware of the distribution of the categories of land (1, 2, and 3) relative to the areas you will be visiting (ref. Loi sur le régime des terres dans les territoires de la Baie-James et du Nouveau Québec).

Climatic and environmental data:  

Since 1988, CEN has collected extensive climate datasets in the area. CEN also currently operates three climate stations of the CEN SILA Network (www.cen.ulaval.ca/sila) in the area, one of which is near the town of Radisson, another is in the centre of LG2 reservoir and a third is approximately 350 km inland on an island of the LaForge 1 reservoir. The station also host a magnetometer of the AUTUMNX network managed by Athabasca University.

Nordicana D:  

CEN's Nordicana-D series freely and openly give access to online climatic and environmental data reports archived at CEN, aiding the management of the wealth of environmental data sets produced by CEN's monitoring and research activities. Visit the Website www.cen.ulaval.ca/nordicanad/ to view the complete list of available data.

Infrastructure and Local Services

Infrastructure presentation:  

CEN researchers have been working in this region since the early 90’s, but the station was established in 1999 and was upgraded in 2010.

Lodging is provided by the community of Radisson in three houses (3 bedrooms each), that are operated by the CEN researchers from Université Laval, INRS-ETE and Université du Québec à Rimouski. With a total capacity for 25 people, this facility comprises a laboratory building with a fume hood, a fully equipped meeting room, a garage and a workshop. It can be used to work in the James Bay region and near the main hydroelectric reservoirs.

Total area:   The total available area is 5860 m2 including 1260 m2 for scientific laboratories and 948 m2 for logistics.
Number of rooms (beds):   A total of 11 rooms (24 beds) are available. House contain 3 to 4 bedrooms each, 1 bathroom, living room, kitchen, large freezer, and washer/dryer. 30 Couture contains 12 beds ( 2 bedr/ 2 bunk beds ; 2 bedr/ 1 bunk beds ), 32 Couture contains 12 beds (2 bedr / 2 bunk beds ; 2 bedr / 1 bunk beds), 34 Couture contains 5 beds within 3 rooms (with locks).

No staff member is present at the station.

Capacity:   28 visitors at the time.

Showers and laundry facilities are available in each house. Solar and hydroelectric power are available 24/7. Water is drinkable and is provided by aqueduct. Garbage collection is on Tuesday morning, containers are available for this purpose. Recyclables are not locally collected.

Communication :  

A telephone is available at 34 Couture but users must use a calling card for long distance calls. Satellite phones are available for rent for members from the CEN secretariat. A fully equipped conference room with projector is at 36 rue Couture.

Scientific equipment:  

Wet and dry lab, fume hood, electronic balance and microscope/binocular. WHMIS training or equivalent is required to use the labs. Chemical storage is not authorized. All products must be brought back after use.

Vehicles :  

Snowmobiles, quads, boats can be rented in the village. Trucks are also available for rent. Fuel is available at the service station.

Local resources:  

Metal workshop (in town)
Wood workshop (in town)
Plexiglas workshop (in town)
Local guides and translators available for hire.

How to Get There

Access :  

Radisson is accessible by road (from Matagami to Radisson). The James Bay route is asphalted throughout its 624 km and provides access to several Cree villages and to the trans-taiga ecosystems which border the hydroelectric reservoirs. It is a private road requiring user registration at the entry gate for security reasons given the low rate of use. Access is free. Fuel is available at km 381. Scheduled commercial air service is also available at the Radisson-Grande-Rivière airport, located 30 km from Radisson. Eastward from Radisson, the Trans-Taiga Road leads to the Caniapiscau Reservoir (gravel road).

Charter services:  

Nunavik Rotors, Héli-Inter and Whapchiwem offer helicopter services. Air Inuit and Air Creebec offer air charters.

Landing facilities:  

Asphalt airstrip of 170 × 45 m (length × width). Airport is located 30 km south of the field station. Heliport available. Lake landing available. Ship docking facilities (landing wharf and pier) are found in Chisasibi.

Safety, Medical Services and Insurance

Safety equipment:  

Safety equipment recommended to work outside of Radisson and Chisasibi are: pepper spray, scaring pistol, communication device, first aid kit, weapon (optional). 

Insurance :  

It is the responsibility of the user of the station to ensure that he or she has the necessary insurance to complete his or her research. The CSST provides insurance coverage to employees or student employees only for accidents at work. In all other cases, personal insurance must cover victims for accidents and evacuation. It is therefore essential to have adequate coverage in terms of activity and destination. Quebec Health Insurance is valid in the area.

Logistics and Security Plan:  

This vast expanse of the Québec territory, adjacent to James Bay, is administered by the Société d'énergie de la Baie James which is a subsidiary of Hydro Québec. Hydro Québec is responsible for emergency services and requires an annual logistics and security plan for all visitors.

Medical services:  

Medical facilities in Radisson are well equipped (standard) but do not include a medical suite. Staff with basic medical training is found at the CLSC (community hospital) with 4 nurses, 1 doctor. The station is not equipped with compulsory safety equipment.

Airborne medical emergency:  

Air medic offers individual, family, and temporary protection plan to obtain emergency medical or airborne services on 100% of the Quebec territory.

Reservation and Fees

Reservation presentation:  

The Radisson Research Station and related services are available to all researchers (university, college, governmental and private) working in the area or who travel to other parts of the North. The station can also accommodate groups of students at the secondary, collegial and university levels wishing to undertake training in the North. Scientific and educational workshops can also be held at the station.

Availability :  

Reservations calendar

Cost :  

Rate schedule

Rules at the station:  

Visitors, to make your stay comfortable and make sure you meet the requirements of CEN, please read the rules at the station.


On the web:  



Please reserve online: http://www.cen.ulaval.ca/en/reservationsejour.php


Pavillon Abitibi-Price
2405, rue de la Terrasse
Université Laval
Québec (Québec)
Canada, G1V 0A6
Tel.: 418-656-3340

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