Trois-Rivieres: Three Times the Fun
With over 350 years of history, Trois-Rivieres is a city where the past meets the present, where centuries' old historic sites sit alongside contemporary discotheques and restaurants. Situated between Quebec City and Montreal on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, the city offers something for everyone. There are a host of outdoor activities, art museums and events for culture lovers as well as 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings for history buffs to explore. The city's residents, known as Trifluviens, are not only proud of Trois-Rivieres' past but also of the modern, exciting city it has become and are happy to show it off for all to experience and enjoy.
|Shrine of Notre-Dame-du-Cap1|
When Jacques Cartier first explored the St. Lawrence River region in the mid-16th century, the area on which Trois-Rivieres now sits was being used by Algonquin indigenous peoples as a winter settlement. With the arrival of Europeans, the area became a seasonal fur-trading post and was officially settled as a permanent post by Sieur de Laviolette in 1634, making Trois-Rivieres the second oldest city in Canada after Quebec City. Within a few decades, the settlement was fortified, the population expanded and by 1663, the city had become the capital of one of three governments of New France. On June 8, 1776, Trois-Rivieres was the site of one of several battles that took place in Canada between American and British forces during the American Revolutionary War. Quebec Governor Sir Guy Carleton commanded a British force to victory over American forces led by General John Sullivan at the Battle of Trois-Rivieres, after which many of the Americans escaped to Montreal.
An order of Ursuline nuns established a convent in the city in 1697 and this became Trois-Rivieres' first hospital as well as the city's first girls school. The Shrine of Notre-Dame-du-Cap was built in 1720 as a parish church (known as the Old Shrine), and a Small Shrine and Basilica were added later. The Shrine became (and continues to be) a popular pilgrimage site, and along with the Ursulines' Museum as well as other historical churches and religious sites, bears witness to the city's French Catholic beginnings. In fact, over 92 per cent of the current population of Trois-Rivieres is Catholic.
The year 1730 signalled the beginning of a century long domination by the iron industry in the region when iron forges were built on the Saint-Maurice River 14.5 km (9 mi) from Trois-Rivieres. The Forges du Saint-Maurice National Historic Site allows visitors to explore this element of the city's past. By the middle of the next century, deforestation in the United States caused Americans to look north for lumber. Trois-Rivieres' location on the Saint-Maurice and St. Lawrence Rivers allowed for easy transportation of lumber, and sawmills, including the Pointe-du-Lac Seigneurial Mill, sprung up over the region. These were quickly followed by paper mills as pulp and paper became the area's leading industry by the end of the 19th century. The Pulp and Paper Industry Exhibition Centre offers visitors a look at the importance of this industry in the region. While pulp and paper manufacturing continues to be a leader in the local economy, the city has diversified by increasing opportunities in the service sector. In particular, Cegep College and the University of Quebec have opened campuses in Trois-Rivieres leading to, among other prospects, a growing number of jobs relating to research and cultural opportunities. Technology, aeronautics, electronics and thermoplastics are also sectors that are important to local industry.
|Manoir de Tonnancour2|
Cultural activities in Trois-Rivieres tend to present both the city's extensive history as well as current pop culture trends that influence Quebec. History buffs can learn about various aspects of the lives of Trois-Rivieres' residents as well as the city's religious and economic past at the aforementioned attractions, among others. The Galerie d'Art du Parc, which is housed on the Manoir de Tonnancour, hosts historical art exhibits and the Old Prison of Trois-Rivieres, which was built in 1822 and ran until 1986, gives visitors insight in to the life of a prisoner in the 1960s through the Go To JAIL! Experience. Past meets present at the Old Prison as it is a part of the Quebec Museum of Folk Culture, which has a rotating schedule of contemporary cultural exhibits on display. The National Biennial of Contemporary Sculpture and National Biennial of Contemporary Print aim to display artists whose work demonstrates current trends in both media. For those who enjoy the arts, the Encore International Dance Festival and the Trois-Rivieres International Vocal Art Event take place in the city each spring and summer. Visitors looking for exhilaration can find it in August at the Trois-Rivieres Grand Prix.
With a metropolitan population of approximately 126,000, Trois-Rivieres sits on the northern banks of the St. Lawrence River at the point where the Saint-Maurice River runs into the St. Lawrence. In fact, the three channels through which the Saint-Maurice flows into the St. Lawrence is where Trois-Rivieres derived its name. Historically, the city's location on the two rivers has been crucial to its development and today much of the Trois-Rivieres' economic and recreational activities still centre on the two rivers. The city is the capital of the Mauricie region, an area of Quebec that is covered in forests and lakes. These also provide an abundance of recreational fun for locals and visitors alike. Trois-Rivieres is located between Montreal and Quebec City with Montreal 138 km (85.7 mi) to the west and Quebec City 130 km (80.8 mi) to the east. Each city is less than a two-hour drive from Trois-Rivieres. The city is linked to Montreal by Highway 40 going west, Quebec City by Highway 40 travelling east and Sherbrooke and the United States by Highway 55 travelling south.
Trois-Rivieres has a small regional airport; however, it is not served by any major airlines so those who wish to travel by air will have to fly into Quebec City or Montreal (the same can be said for trains as Trois-Rivieres does not have a train station). A number of major airlines offer flights from within Canada, the United States and internationally to both Quebec City and Montreal. Those who arrive by plane or train in either Quebec City or Montreal can proceed on to Trois-Rivieres on an Orleans Express bus. The motorcoach company operates from 200 locations within Quebec and routes arriving in Trois-Rivieres will drop visitors directly in the city's downtown. For those who hope to take the bus from the airport in Montreal, shuttles from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport will take passengers from the airport to the city's main bus terminal where they can catch their Orleans Express bus.
Alternately, visitors can rent a car from either city and drive to Trois-Rivieres. To reach downtown Trois-Rivieres from Montreal's Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport, take Highway 520 (Cote de Liesse Highway) east for approximately 3 km (1.9 mi), then take Highway 40 east for approximately 130 km (80.8 mi) into Trois-Rivieres. Take exit 199 (downtown exit) from Highway 40 onto rue St. Roch (a right-turn). Turn left on rue Notre-Dame which runs through downtown Trois-Rivieres. From Jean-Lesage International Airport in Quebec City to downtown Trois-Rivieres, take Airport Road (Route de L'Aeroport) south. Exit onto Boulevard Charest/Highway 40 (Autoroute Charest) and continue on Highway 40 west for approximately 110 km (68 mi) into Trois-Rivieres. Take exit 199 (downtown exit) from Highway 40 onto rue St. Roch (a left-turn). Turn left on rue Notre-Dame which runs through downtown Trois-Rivieres.
To get around once in the city, Trois-Rivieres Transport Co. operates numerous bus routes throughout the area, many of which have access for customers with reduced mobility. There are also a number of taxi companies, including Coop Taxi, that operate throughout the city.
There is pay-parking at numerous locations especially in and around downtown Trois-Rivieres. Visitors must pay if parking on the street next to a parking meter but evenings, weekend and public holidays are free. There are also pay-lots at rue Badeaux (between rue St. Antoine and rue St. Georges), Hotel de ville (on rue Hart between rue des Forges and rue Radisson), Parc portaire (on rue de Fleuve between rue des Forges and rue des Casernes) and 100 rue Laviolette (between rue Hart and rue St. Pierre). The Trois-Rivieres Tourism and Information Bureau, which is located downtown, offers a free parking pass for visitors and tourists interested in staying for three hours or more.
Make sure to pack sunscreen in the summer and mittens in the winter. Trois-Rivieres' climate, like many other locations in Canada, can vary wildly from month-to-month and season-to-season. Summers tend to be sunny, hot and humid with average temperatures in July and August reaching 25°C (77°F) and sometimes soaring as high as 35°C (95°F). Rainfall is heaviest from May to October so it may be a good idea to have an umbrella on hand during these months. Fall in Trois-Rivieres is cool and crisp with the occasional day that is unseasonably hot or cold. This is the time of year when forests turn from green to gold, red, brown and every colour in-between. It is a good idea to wear layers of clothing at this time of year to accommodate temperature variations during the day. Autumn is followed by a cold, white winter with snowfall that can exceed 2.5 m (8 ft) and an average high temperature in January of -7.3°C (18°F), a low of -17.6°C (0°F) and extreme lows that reach -30°C (-22°F). Visitors should definitely prepare for the cold by bringing gloves, hats, scarves and heavy jackets. The city begins to thaw around March leading to a warm and mild spring.
The city of Trois-Rivieres offers a variety of options for travellers when it comes to accommodation. There are several hotels located in or near the downtown area and a number of bed and breakfasts—many of which were built in the 19th century and are located in the historical district—operate in the city. Travellers on a budget can book into the lodging run by Hostelling International and there are also a number of campgrounds to choose from.
|The Old Prison3|
The King's Road was started in 1731 as a way to link Quebec City and Montreal. Completed in 1737, the 280-km (174-mi) road, which was the first to be suitable for vehicular travel in Canada, passes directly through Trois-Rivieres. The Tourism and Information Bureau will provide visitors with brochures on what to see and do along the portion of the trail that exists in and around the city. The bureau suggests a two-day itinerary that begins with a look at Le Brun General Store, a historic site featuring three displays that showcase what the store would have looked like in the years 1803, 1827 and 1915. Next take a guided tour of the Moulin seignioral de Point-du-Lac and follow this with lunch at Lac Saint-Pierre, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Spend the first afternoon exploring Old Trois-Rivieres and include a visit to the Ursulines' Museum. Start the second day with a tour of the Quebec Museum of Folk Culture and the Old Prison and then start down the King's Road. Make a stop in the town of Champlain and take a look at the Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Visitation-de-Champlain, which was built in 1879 and has a 43.5-m (143-ft) bell tower. Continue on to Batiscan and visit the Old Presbytary. Take the guided tour and learn the history of the site, which was built in 1816, and see a mid-19th century reconstruction of the house. The final stop on the tour is in the town of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade, where visitors can learn about the lives of those who resided at the Domain Seigneurial de Sainte-Anne. These historical characters include Madeleine de Vercheres, the seigneuress of Sainte-Anne, who resided here from 1706 to 1747. Finish the day by sampling the fare at one of the Trois-Rivieres eateries that serve Quebecois inspired cuisine.
As the weather starts to get warm in the spring, Trifluviens flock to the Harbour Park to stroll along its network of walkways and soak up some rays. In winter, those who still want to enjoy the view along the St. Lawrence River are urged to bring their skates as the walkways turn into a skating rink when the snow flies. The park is home to the Pulp and Paper Industry Exhibition Centre which offers educational tours to visitors, and it also has a passenger landing which is utilized by the M/V Draveur and the M/S Jacques-Cartier as a launching point for several passenger cruises that tour the St. Lawrence. Le Portofino, a traditional Italian eatery, is located along the harbour front and has an outdoor terrace where guests can enjoy pasta and wine while doing some people watching. After the sun goes down, there are a number of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes in the immediate area to keep revellers busy until all hours. September brings Autumn Delights Festival to the park and attracts food-lovers from all over the region. With music, entertainment for children, cooking demonstrations, a Boutique des Delices selling culinary wares and delicacies and 40 or more exhibitors offering samples of over 200 tasty treats, this event is a great way to experience the park as summer draws to a close.
|Angle des Forges4|
Each year during the first week of October, Trois-Rivieres hosts an International Poetry Festival that has grown so large since its inauguration in 1985, it has lead to the city being named the Official Poetry Capital of Quebec. In fact, the city is often called the Poetry Capital of the World by festival participants. Kicking off with an opening ceremony that is attended by over 100 poets from all corners of the globe who have been invited to participate, the following 10 days are a blur of activity. 40,000 poetry fans attend over 450 events which take place at 80 venues across the city, including restaurants, art galleries, cafes, museums and bookshops. Numerous cash prizes are awarded during the course of the festivities and the festival itself has won several awards, including a Governor Generals Medal for founder Gaston Bellemare. During the course of the festival, 2000 poems written by visitors are displayed on La corde a poemes, a clothes line that runs between the trees at Parc Champlain outside town hall. Art exhibitions also take place to compliment the spoken art with visual art. The festival closes with a Grand Poetry Evening where a group of approximately 30 poets gather onstage to do final readings. Trois-Rivieres does not forget its love of verse once the festivities draw to a close. Plaques posted around the city are engraved with short poems by Quebecois poets and the city has also erected a statue to the Unknown Poet. Each Valentine's Day, Trois-Rivieres' mayor makes a visit to the statue and lays a bouquet of flowers at its feet.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF:
- Tourisme Trois-Rivieres; Shrine of Notre-Dame-du-Cap; Trois-Rivieres, QC, Canada
- Tourisme Trois-Rivieres; Manoir de Tonnancour; Trois-Rivieres, QC, Canada
- Tourisme Trois-Rivieres; The Old Prison; Trois-Rivieres, QC, Canada
- Jean Chamberland; c/o Tourisme Trois-Rivieres; Angle des Forges; Trois-Rivieres, QC, Canada