I was looking at Canadian election maps, and noticed the Manicouagan riding had weird exclaves formed between the 55th parallel and the Quebec-Labrador provincial border. When extended to Hudson Bay, this line also serves as the southern boundary to Quebec's predominantly Inuit-inhabited Nunavik region (images below for reference).
The fact they are exclaves turned out to be fairly uninteresting – only the westernmost one appears inhabited and there's a rail connection to the south via Labrador.
However, while the interior is uninhabited, both ends of the parallel have points of interest related to various indigenous groups. On the eastern side, the exclave is inhabited in part by the Naskapi at Kawawachikamach. However, they have some reserved land north of the 55th and this may have contributed to them having a seat at the otherwise Inuit Kativik Regional Government (KRG) in Nunavik. On the western side, this appears to be a historical point of contact between the Cree and Inuit. In the modern day they now have settlements on either side of Great Whale River just north of the 55th at Whapmagoostui and Kuujjuarapik respectively.
As a result, I've been trying to trace the history of the 55th parallel and whether alternate boundaries were ever considered. Of interest is that the Manicouagan riding was created in 1966, so at least the eastern portion of the boundary seems to have existed in some form before negotiations between the governments of Quebec & Canada and the aforementioned groups in the late 1970s established the KRG. These agreements are now constitutionally guaranteed by s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
I hope I've given enough context for my interest, as my linked questions are:
- When was the 55th first established as an administrative boundary? It's possibly different times for the eastern and western portions.
- Why the 55th specifically? Note that given the time period, I'm aware the answer may be "arbitrary line chosen without consulting the indigenous," but if the eastern portion of the line was established after settlement in the exclave mining town of Schefferville beginning around 1953, a line not further south than this makes some sense (the Naskapi then resettled to the area, unclear if by choice or not).
- Was there any consideration to re-drawing the line during the late 70s negotiations, especially with regards to the Naskapi? I'm slightly less interested in the Cree side, because while a boundary along Great Whale River initially seems more sensible, it probably has no practical ongoing effect to the Cree as they are not part of the KRG and have their own separate governance structure.