- Tourisme Mauricie, 1882, Rue Cascade, Saint-Boniface-de-Shawinigan, ☏ , toll-free: . M-F 08:30-12:00 and 13:00-16:30. Visitor centre.
In 1651, the Jesuit priest Buteaux was the first European known to have travelled up the Saint-Maurice River to this river's first set of great falls. Afterwards, missionaries going to the Upper Saint-Maurice would rest here. Before Shawinigan Falls was established, the local economy had been largely based on lumber and agriculture.
In the late 1890s, Shawinigan Falls drew the interest of foreign entrepreneurs because falls had the potential to become a favourable location for the production of hydroelectricity. In 1899, the Shawinigan Water & Power Company commissioned an engineering firm design a grid plan for a new industrial town on the banks of the Saint-Maurice River, providing the ground work for what would become Downtown Shawinigan.
In 1901, the place was incorporated as a village, and gained town (ville) status a year later. The hydro-electric generating station contributed to rapid economic growth and the town achieved several firsts in Canadian history: first production of aluminum (1901), carborundum (1908), cellophane pellets (1932). Shawinigan Falls also became one of the first Canadian cities with electric street lighting. For decades, the local pulp and paper, chemical and textile industries created thousands of jobs and stimulated city growth.
Local prosperity was interrupted by the Great Depression in the 1930s. Many plants were forced to temporarily reduce or stop their production, which left many residents jobless. Many families needed public assistance to survive. The City Council enacted a public works program to help families. World War II put Shawinigan Falls, and many others cities in Canada, back on the path of economic recovery. During hostilities, the windows of local power plants were painted black to prevent any possible German aerial attack.
By the early 1950s, the industrial growth in Shawinigan was such that the city offered the steadiest employment and the highest wages in Quebec. As its working class gained economic ground and political leverage, Shawinigan became fertile ground for labour unions. The workers of the Belgo pulp and paper plant went on strike in 1955.
In the 1950s, Shawinigan Falls entered a period of decline that would last for several decades. Technological improvements made industries less dependent on Shawinigan's geographic location. Many employers relocated to nearby larger cities or close down.
In order to offset the decline of the heavy industry, leaders have promoted the expansion of the local hospitality industry.
Shawinigan has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) with cold and snowy winter coupled with mild to warm summers. Precipitation is moderate to high year round, resulting in heavy winter snowfall, typical of Eastern Canada.
Shawinigan can be reached via Quebec Route 155 and Route 157 via Trois-Rivières. Quebec Route 153 and Route 155 pass through Shawinigan.
The entire downtown can be reasonably explored on foot. Further away, the place is best explored by car.
- RTCS. Daily public transit service Saint-Georges-de-Champlain to Shawinigan-South. $3 (children 6 years old and under).
- La Cité de l'Énergie, 1000, avenue Melville, toll-free: . A theme park based on local industrial history, with a 115 metre high observation tower opened in 1997. Since 2012, it has been home to the Museum of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, a venue similar to those operated by the U.S. Presidential library system and which focuses on the gifts received by the former Prime Minister of Canada (1993-2003) during his official duties. Complete visit includes the Science Centre, the historic sector with the Museum of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien: adults $25, seniors $24, students (13 and over) $20, children (6-12) $12, children under 6 free, family (2 adults, 1 child) $55, family (2 adults, 2 child) $60; partial visit - the science centre or the museum: adults $19, children (6-12) $10, children under 6 free.
- Shawinigan Cataractes, Centre Gervais Auto, 1200, avenue des Cèdres, ☏ . Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team.
- Eglise Notre-Dame-de-la-Presentation (Church of Our Lady of the Presentation), 825 Avenue Ozias-Leduc, ☏ . Jun-Aug: M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 11:00-17:00. A National Historic Site of Canada. Ozias Leduc was a dominant figure of sacred art in Canada, dubbed the "Michelangelo of Quebec". The church features his work in a unique monumental decor, composed of murals, some of which represent the stages of discovery, colonization and industrialization of the Mauricie region. A heritage work with a human dimension. Adult $9, senior 65 and over $8.50, student (from 13 years old) $6.75, child upto 12 years free; prices include taxes.
- D'Arbre en Arbre, Parc de l'Ile Melville, 1900 Avenue Melville, ☏ , toll-free: . 24 Jun-25 Aug: daily 09:30-16:00; spring and autumn: available for group bookings. Ziplines, suspended footbridges, Tarzan lianas, rope bridge. Four aerial courses that total 87 suspended challenge-games, in rope and flexible cables. Each course is adapted for different ages in terms of height and difficulty of games. Adults $21-31, youth $16-19, children $12-16; families with 2 adults and 2 children get $1-2 off per person.
- Parc national de la Mauricie (La Mauricie National Park), 2796 Chemin de Saint-Jean-des-Piles, ☏ , toll-free: . Mid-May to mid-Oct. With 150 lakes, it's a popular location for camping, canoeing and kayaking. Operated by Parks Canada. Daily fees (2018): adult $7.80, senior $6.80, youth and children under 18 free, family/group $15.70.
- Marche Public Shawinigan, 2093 Avenue Champlain. Th F 08:00-18:00, Sa Su 09:00-17:00. Public market founded in 1902. 30 merchants.
- Zele, 3230 50E Avenue, ☏ . W-Sa 17:30 - 22:00, Su 17:30 - 21:00. Mains $28-42.
- Restaurant Cite d'Angkor, 880 Promenade du St-Maurice, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:00-20:00. Cambodian family cuisine overlooking the St-Maurice River. Bring your own beer or wine. Mains $13-18, lunch $10-13.
- Cafe Bucolique, 3240 Chemin Sainte Flore, ☏ . W-F 10:00-16:00, Sa Su 09:00-16:00. Coffee, soups, baked goods.
- Le Trou du diable - Broue Pub et Restaurant (The Devil's Hole Brew Pub and Restaurant), 412 Av Willow, ☏ . Pub: Su-Tu 15:00-23:00, W Th 15:00-01:00, F Sa 15:00-01:30; kitchen: Tu-Su 17:00-21:00.
- Auberge Gouverneur Shawinigan, 1100, Promenade du Saint-Maurice (at the entrance of the La Mauricie National Park in front of the Cité de l’énergie), ☏ , toll-free: . Tour packages of the region are also offered by the hotel. 106 rooms and suites. A salted and heated indoor pool, a spa, a training center & a massage therapy, orthotherapy and physiotherapy service. On-site Italian restaurant. From $119.
- [dead link] Auberge Pique-Nique, 581 28eme rue, ☏ . From $70.
- Chez Baza, 1339 Victory Street (2 minutes from the exit Garnier, highway 55), ☏ . Two B&B rooms with private bath. Big screen TV, free Wi-Fi, fully air-conditioned house, heated swimming pool in season, whirlpool in the yard, free parking. $99-139.
- Hotel Marineau Shawinigan, 2223 Hanna Street, ☏ , toll-free: . 42 rooms, renovated in November 2018, free coffee in rooms, air conditioning, cable TV, free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi. From $88.
- La Mauricie National Park - 15 km away
|Routes through Shawinigan|
|END ←||N S||→ Trois-Rivières → Drummondville|
|Montreal ←||W E||→ Hervey → Chicoutimi-Jonquière|
|La Tuque ← Hervey ←||N S||→ Montreal|