In the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, it is not uncommon to see large wooden crosses at the intersection of two country roads or on hilltops. These are known as roadside crosses and stand in the countryside as reminders of the role of religion in Québec as well as its role in the settlement of the region.
The tradition of roadside crosses is a very old one. It probably harks back to the days when explorers planted crosses as a sign of taking possession of newly discovered territories. Unlike the roadside Calvary, the roadside cross does not have a representation of the body of Christ. On the other hand, it generally shows the instruments of the Passion and other Christian symbols (heart, rays, etc.) or else non-religious symbols, such as the shamrock or fleur-de-lis.
In the history of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, these very modest monuments became emblematic of days and events gone by. In the community life of the first non-Natives to settle in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, these crosses served as public places where people would gather to pray or meet.
Roadside cross, Preissac district. Centre de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue et
du Nord-du-Québec des ANQ, coll. Louise-Hélève Audet.