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Shawinigan is a city of 50,000 people (2011) in the Mauricie region of Quebec. It arose because of its tremendous hydro-electric generation capacity, and is now focusing on tourism.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

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.

The "Trou du Diable" falls

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 closed down.

In order to offset the decline of the heavy industry, leaders have promoted the expansion of the local hospitality industry.

Climate[edit]

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.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Shawinigan can be reached via Quebec Route 155 and Route 157 via Trois-Rivières. Quebec Route 153 and Route 155 pass through Shawinigan.

By bus[edit]

By train[edit]

  • VIA Rail Canada, toll-free: +1-888-842-7245. Operates train routes across Canada. The following routes serve Shawigan:
    • Between Jonquière and Montreal including stops in Shawinigan, Saint-Paulin, Saint-Justin, and Joliette. Travel time to Shawinigan from Jonquière is 6.5 hours and from Montreal is 2.5 hours. Operates one day per week. Route operates as a wilderness service: a request stop may be made at any point along the route for those who want to hike and kayak in the remoter regions of Quebec that the train passes through.
    • Between Senneterre and Montreal including stops in La Tuque, Shawinigan, Saint-Paulin, Saint-Justin, and Joliette. Travel time to Shawinigan from Seneterre is 9 hours, from La Tuque is 3 hours, and from Montreal is 2.5 hours. Operates one day per week. Route operates as a wilderness service: a request stop may be made at any point along the route for those who want to hike and kayak in the remoter regions of Quebec that the train passes through.

Get around[edit]

Map of 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).

See[edit]

View of the Promenade du Saint-Maurice, in the lower town of Shawinigan, along the Saint-Maurice River
  • 1 La Cité de l'Énergie (The city of energy), 1000, avenue Melville, toll-free: +1-866-900-2483. 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. La Cité de l'Énergie on Wikipedia
  • 2 Eglise Notre-Dame-de-la-Presentation (Church of Our Lady of the Presentation), 825 Avenue Ozias-Leduc (Shawinigan Sud Sector), +1 819-539-1888. 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.
  • 3 Shawinigan Cataractes, Centre Gervais Auto, 1200, avenue des Cèdres, +1 819-537-6327. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team. Shawinigan Cataractes on Wikipedia

Urban sectors[edit]

  • 4 Grand-Mère. Former city of Quebec founded in 1898 and merged with the daughter of Shawinigan in 2002. Located on the shores of the Saint-Maurice river, including the Saint-Georges-de-Champlain sector (east shore of Saint-Maurice), it is a city residential, industrial, commercial and government services. This sector of Shawinigan has a large hydroelectric dam just downstream from the suspended iron bridge spanning the Saint-Maurice River. Grand-Mère (Q291278) on Wikidata Grand-Mère, Quebec on Wikipedia
  • 5 Shawinigan-Sud (eastern part of Saint-Maurice River). This former city was merged with Shawinigan in 2002. This sector of Shawinigan is at the head of the falls of the same name. This city had been incorporated because of the industrial development of Shawinigan Falls. Shawinigan-Sud (Q3481603) on Wikidata Shawinigan-Sud, Quebec on Wikipedia
  • 6 Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides. Former parish municipality, this municipality was merged in 2002 with the city of Shawinigan. This urban sector of Shawinigan has above all a residential and recreational tourism vocation. Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides (Q3462376) on Wikidata Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides, Quebec on Wikipedia
  • 7 Lac-à-la-Tortue (eastern part of Saint-Maurice River). Former municipality, founded in 1895 and merged with the city of Shawinigan in 2002. It has become one of the seven sectors of Shawinigan. The municipality takes its name from the lake of the same name, which is part of the hydrographic slope of Batiscania, despite its proximity to the course of the Saint-Maurice river. The Eastern section of the lake is part of the territory of Hérouxville. Lac-à-la-Tortue, Quebec (Q3214684) on Wikidata Lac-à-la-Tortue, Quebec on Wikipedia
  • 8 Saint-Jean-des-Piles (along the Saint-Maurice River). Former parish municipality, merged with the city of Shawinigan in 2002. This municipality, established on the western edge of the Saint-Maurice River, is the main gateway to La Mauricie National Park. It is considered the capital of the canoe. Saint-Jean-des-Piles (Q3462551) on Wikidata Saint-Jean-des-Piles, Quebec on Wikipedia
  • 9 Saint-Georges-de-Champlain (eastern part of Saint-Maurice River). A former city of Quebec, incorporated in 1915 and merged with the city of Shawinigan in 2002.

Do[edit]

  • 1 D'Arbre en Arbre (From tree to tree), Parc de l'Ile Melville, 1900 Avenue Melville, +1 819-536-7155, toll-free: +1-866-536-7155. 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.
The Pines Island (Île aux pins) in Lake Wapizagonke, Parc national de la Mauricie

Buy[edit]

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Zele, 3230 50E Avenue, +1 819-729-0466. W-Sa 17:30 - 22:00, Su 17:30 - 21:00. Restaurant du secteur de Grand-Mère. Mains $28-42.
  • 2 Restaurant Cite d'Angkor, 880 Promenade du St-Maurice, +1 819-536-2488. 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.
  • 3 Cafe Bucolique, 3240 Chemin Sainte Flore, +1 819-538-1735. W-F 10:00-16:00, Sa Su 09:00-16:00. Coffee, soups, baked goods.

Drink[edit]

  • 1 Brasserie Chez Tonio, 41, 1083 avenue (Secteur Sainte-Georges-de-Champlain), +1 819-538-8068.
  • 2 Le Trou du diable - Broue Pub et Restaurant (The Devil's Hole Brew Pub and Restaurant), 412 Av Willow, +1 819-537-9151. 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.

Sleep[edit]

Hôtels[edit]

  • 1 Auberge Gouverneur Shawinigan, 1100, Promenade du Saint-Maurice (on the banks of the Saint-Maurice river, in front of the Cité de l’énergie), +1 819-537-6000, toll-free: +1-888-922-1100. 106 rooms and suites. Bar and Italian restaurant (the Pacini), terrace. A salted and heated indoor swimming pool, whirlpool bath, fitness room & a massage therapy, orthotherapy and physiotherapy service. Free private parking, ski room. Tour packages of the region are also offered by the hotel. Accepted animals. From $119.
  • 2 Hotel Marineau Shawinigan, 2223 Hanna Street (Grand-Mère Sector), +1 819 533-5766, +1 800 565-5766. 42 rooms, renovated in November 2018, free coffee in rooms, air conditioning, cable TV, free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi. From $88.

Chalets, lodges and inn[edit]

  • 3 Motel Laviolette, 701, route de Lac-à-la-Tortue (Lac-à-la-Tortue Sector), +1 819 538-8613.
  • 4 Le Manoir du Rocher, 85, av. de Grand-Mère (Grand-Mère Sector), +1 819 538-8877. Gîte.
  • 5 Auberge Pique-Nique, 581, 28eme rue, +1 819-731-9887, .
  • 6 Gîte Chez Baza, 1339 Victory Street (2 minutes from the exit Garnier, highway 55), +1 819-537-7299. 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.
  • 7 Parc de l'Île Melville, Shawinigan (Melville Island Park, Shawinigan), 1900, avenue Melville (on a peninsula on the east side of Melville Island, on the banks of the Saint-Maurice River), +1 819-537-7299, . Offer of camping, ready-to-camp, cabins and inn

Go next[edit]

Parks or reserves nearby[edit]

  • 1 La Mauricie National Park Parc national de la Mauricie offers several recreational and tourism activities: sport fishing, hiking (160 km of trails), cycling, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, interpretation trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, camping (both in summer and in winter) , canoe-camping, long hike in complete autonomy. A promenade road crosses the park right through. This park is bounded by the Matawin River to the north and the St-Maurice River to the east. It has two entrances: Saint-Mathieu and Saint-Jean-des-Piles.
  • 2 Saint-Maurice Wildlife Reserve Réserve faunique du Saint-Maurice is administered by Sépaq located on the west bank of the Saint-Maurice river and north of the Matawin river. This park offers chalet rental, small game hunting, fishing, camping and ready-to-camp services. The main entrance is the Mékinac bridge which spans the Saint-Maurice river.

Nearby municipalities[edit]

  • 3 Trois-Rives It is focused on forestry, agriculture and recreational tourism activities (vacationing, hunting & fishing, swimming, snowmobiling, mountain biking, etc.) The bridge erected at Matawin gives privileged access to the Zec du Chapeau-de-Paille and the Saint-Maurice Wildlife Reserve.
  • 4 Saint-Roch-de-Mékinac Municipality split in two by the Saint-Maurice river. Perched on a promontory, the village offers a panoramic view of the Saint-Maurice valley. Along the east bank of the Saint-Maurice River, the breathtaking cliffs are admired by tourists, boaters and motorists. When the forests are adorned with warm coloured leaves in autumn, the valley offers a natural and magical spectacle.
  • 5 Grandes-Piles Located in the canton of Radnor, the village of Grandes-Piles is located on a cliff overlooking the Saint-Maurice River, facing the village of Saint-Jean-des-Piles which is on the west side. Recreational tourism activities (vacationing, water sports, boating, hunting & fishing) are dominant thanks to the magnificent body of water formed upstream of the Grand-Mère hydroelectric dam.
  • 6 Hérouxville Hérouxville is the gateway to the MRC de Mékinac. Thanks to route 153, Hérouxville is located on the road leading to the Festival Western de Saint-Tite. Hérouxville stands out particularly thanks to the Tavibois domain (belonging to the Daughters of Jesus community) and the Camp Val Notre-Dame summer camp. The main economic vocation of Hérouxville is agriculture; forestry (especially in the northwest of the territory) and recreational tourism activities constitute a part of the local economy.
  • 7 Saint-Narcisse Located in the MRC Les Chenaux, the municipality of Saint-Narcisse has above all a mainly agricultural, industrial and hydroelectric economy (Saint-Narcisse dam); recreational tourism activities (vacationing, camping, hunting and sport fishing, ATVs, snowmobiles) have increased significantly since 1992, with the creation of Parc de la Rivière-Batiscan. This municipality has 1,832 inhabitants. Its territory is crossed by the rivière des Chutes, the rivière à la Tortue (tributary of the Envies river) and the rivière au Lard.
  • 8 Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel On the edge of the Saint-Maurice River (west side), this municipality offers many tourist and natural attractions including campgrounds, a municipal recreation center, a mountain (with ski centre).
  • 9 Saint-Étienne-des-Grès Municipality of Basse-Mauricie where the La Gabelle hydroelectric power station was erected. It has two villages: Saint-Étienne-des-Grès and Saint-Thomas-de-Caxton. Its offer of recreational and tourist activities is significant: vacationing, cycling (Route Verte), hiking trails, water sports on the Saint-Maurice River.
  • 10 Saint-Boniface, Quebec Residential municipality in the western suburbs of Shawinigan.
  • 11 Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc Last village-relay before the southwest entrance to Mauricie National Park. This locality is a hotbed of recreational and tourist activities (La Mauricie National Park, resorts, camping, hiking trails, observation of flora and fauna, maple groves, mountain biking, snowmobiles, cycling, hunting and fishing) and forestry.
Routes through Shawinigan
END  N Quebec Autoroute 55.svg S  Trois-RivièresDrummondville
Montreal  W VIA Rail Montreal Senneterre icon 02.png E  → Hervey → Chicoutimi-Jonquière
La Tuque ← Hervey ←  N VIA Rail Montreal Senneterre icon.png S  Montreal


This city travel guide to Shawinigan is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.