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Nouvelle, Quebec (Canada)

Gaspésie / Îles-de-la-Madeleine Administrative Administrative Region

Last modified: 2021-03-27 by rob raeside
Keywords: nouvelle | quebec |
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[Nouvelle] image by Masao Okazaki, 30 January 2021

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The municipality of Nouvelle (1,681 inhabitants in 2016; 23,460 ha) is located in southwestern Gaspésie, on the northern shore of the Bay of Chaleur.

Nouvelle is named, according to a document written by the parish priest Ferdinand Audet around 1876, for the Jesuit father Henri Nouvel (1621/1624 - ~1702), whose name is sometimes written as Nouvelle. Nouvel landed in Quebec in 1662, moved to Rimouski in 1663 and visited several times the Innu of the northern shore of river Saint-Lawrence, between 1663 to 1669. From 1671 to 1701, he managed different missions in the Great Lakes region.
Reginald Day pointed out that the place was mentioned as La Nouvelle / La Nouvelle de Carleton in the dairy of the trader Charles Robin in 1787 and in different later documents. Since Nouvel never visited the region of Nouvelle, which was not inhabited at his time, Day believes that the place name refers to a new (French, "nouvelle") settlement depending on the parish of Saint-Joseph-de-Carleton.
Commission de toponymie du Québec
Ivan Sache, 23 February 2021

Municipal flag

A 2006 photo of this flag was posted by Vartan Baronian on the FOTW Facebook page:
A good photo of the flag appears on the city's Facebook page:
The logo used on the flag is explained here:
Masao Okazaki, 30 January 2021

The logo of Nouvelle features the globe and the fossil fish Eusthenopteron foordi, aka "the Prince of Miguasha", for which the paleontological site of Miguasha Park is world-renown.
The contrasted shapes and the receding lines frame and preserve the fossil as a worldwide recognized treasure.
Carmine red evokes the rocky slopes of the cliffs.
Stone gray is associated to the rocks of the paleontological site.
Municipal website

The Miguasha fossil site in eastern Quebec was among the first major paleontological localities to have been discovered and excavated in North America. The discovery of the first fossils at Miguasha was made in 1842 by Abraham Gesner, the government geologist in New Brunswick, also known for his work on the distillation of kerosene.
In 1892, the American vertebrate paleontologist E.D. Cope was the first to recognize that the osteolepiform Eusthenopteron foordi from Miguasha had a fin anatomy similar to that of the limbs of stegocephalians, a paraphyletic group acknowledged today to include stem tetrapods. Following Cope’s publication, Eusthenopteron foordi was considered a key species in the transition from fishes to tetrapods, thus promoting the focus of numerous studies on the anatomy of its paired fins, vertebral column and nostrils.
In the early 1920s, Swedish paleontologists started to study in great detail the anatomy of fishes from Miguasha, contributing, in part, to recognition of the famous ‘Swedish School’ of paleozoology at the Naturhistoriska Riksmusett (National Museum of Natural History) in Stockholm. Between 1937 and 1998, Erik Jarvik wrote some thirty scientific articles on Eusthenopteron.
In 1999, the Miguasha National Park was confirmed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its global status as the best representation of the Devonian ‘Age of Fishes’.
R. Cloutier. 2013. Great Canadian Lagerstätten 4. The Devonian Miguasha Biota (Québec): UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Time Capsule in the Early History of Vertebrates. Geosciences Canada 40, 149-163

The palaeontological site of Miguasha National Park, in south-eastern Quebec on the southern coast of the Gaspé peninsula, is considered to be the world's most outstanding illustration of the Devonian Period known as the 'Age of Fishes'. Dating from 370 million years ago, the Upper Devonian Escuminac Formation represented here contains five of the six fossil fish groups associated with this period. Its significance stems from the discovery there of the highest number and best-preserved fossil specimens of the lobe-finned fishes that gave rise to the first four-legged, air-breathing terrestrial vertebrates – the tetrapods.
UNESCO World Heritage List

The first recorded specimen of Eusthenopteron foordi was discovered in summer 1879 by Ralph Wheelock Ells, from the Canadian Geological Survey. The description was published in 1881 by the paleontologist Joseph Franklin Whiteaves (On some remarkable fossil fishes from the Devonian rocks of Scaumenac Bay, in the Province of Quebec. Academy Magazine of Natural History 5:8, 159-162). The fish was named for the British paleontologist Arthur Humphreys Foord (1844-1933). The report triggered extensive excavation campaigns in the Escuminac cliff. Collections of E. foordi are found in different museums worldwide; more than 2,600 specimens are kept in the Canadian Museum of Nature of Ottawa.
Specimen P222 of E. Foordi, acquired by the National Museum of Natural History in Stockholm from the collector Joseph Landry for 50 Canadian dollars, was shipped to Sweden in 1925 and studied in great detail by Erik Jarvik (1907-1998).

In 1960, René Bureau, director of the Geology Museum at Laval University setup the Miguasha Project, aimed at the establishment of a national park on the paleontological site. A part of the cliff was acquired in 1972 by the Quebec Ministry of Leisure, Hunting and fishing for the sake of protection. A visitor's center and research facilities were inaugurated in June 1978 on the site. Jarvik stressed in 2007 the significance of E. Foordi as the museum's flagship. Due to the excellent preservation of the fossils, complete 3-D specimens and skulls included, the Escuminac Formation was labelled a Konservat-Lagerstätt.
Nicknamed "the Prince of Miguasha", E. Foordi was once believed to be the missing link between primitive fish and the early terrestrial tetrapods, as highlighted by the Latin motto of the Miguasha National Park, "Ex aque ad terram" (From Water to the Land"). The fish could allegedly use its powerful paired fins as "legs" to leave freshwater during drought periods and crawl on land to find new aquatic sites. A geological re-interpretation of the Miguasha site, however, proved that the environment was then brackish, probably an estuary, without any drought period. Phylogenetical studies have revealed that another, less-known fish, Elpistostege watsoni would be a better candidate ancestor of the terrestrial tetrapods, therefore "dethroning" the Prince of Miguasha.
G. Mazé. 2016. Le Prince de Miguasha au muséec du Parc de Miguasha. Conserveries mémorielles 19.
Eusthenopteron foordi: comme un poisson dans l'eau. Miguasha National Park

The logo of Nouvelle appears to feature the emblematic P222 specimen, which is known today only by replica, since it was cut in small species for the sake of research by Erik Jarvik.

Ivan Sache, 23 February 2021