La Mauricie Driving Tour Attractions
La Mauricie refers to the very scenic area along both sides of the Saint Maurice River, a mighty river used for carrying timber, with Route 156 following the twists and turns of the narrow valley. This is also a good way of getting to Lac Saint-Jean.A 170 km driving route takes visitors through the highlights of this region.
Forges de St-Maurice
The Forges de St-Maurice, 13 km (8 mi.) from Trois Rivières, leaving by the Blvd. des Forges, were Canada's first ironworks. They date back to 1730, and produced a whole range of items such as boilers and stoves until 1883 when the nearby stocks of iron ore and timber ran out and the works closed.A pretty road leads to the river and the Fontaine du Diable, where there is an escape of natural gas that can be set alight.
Shawinigan, 31 km (19 mi.) further on, owes its rapid development since early this century to the hydro-electric potential of its 50 m (164 ft) waterfalls. The two power plants are open to visitors from June to December on weekdays.The Center Culturel (2100 Rue Dessaules) has a collection of contemporary art and sculpture, and puts on exhibitions of work by Québec artists.Shawinigan has put a lot of effort into attracting visitors through various initiatives. The area offers golfing and other activities, including La Cite de l'Energie is, an industry based amusement park.
An industrial town Grand-Mère is a place that owes its existence to the power generated by the Mauricie River. Its name came from a nearby black rock with the craggy profile of an old grandmother, subsequently removed to the town park to make way for the power plant.
La Mauricie National Park
A road leads from Grand-Mère via Saint-Jean-des-Piles to the south-east entrance to the Mauricie National Park.The Parc de la Mauricie covers 536 sq km and extends into the Laurentians that are part of the Canadian Shield. Its many kinds of tree range from maple, ash, cherry, lime and birch to a variety of conifers such as Scotch pine and cedar.It is a reserve rich in wildlife, with black bear, wolf, fox, beaver, otter, mink, lynx and musk rat, and such birds as bittern, geese, snipe, osprey, hazelhen, etc. For the wildfowl there are close on fifty lakes, the finest being Lac Wapizagonke, 8 km (5 mi.) long, in the park's south-eastern section.
Saint-Tite, reached after 44 km (27 mi.), and important for its leather industry, was founded in 1859 at the start of La Mauricie's timber trading, and in early September hosts a grand Western-style festival complete with rodeo, horse-races and processions.Saint-Tite has taken on an old west image with some of the downtown buildings adopting this style and theme.
Grand Piles, Canada
The Musée du Bucheron in Grand Piles, on the steep bank overlooking the river, provides a glimpse of the life of Canada's first lumberjacks.Route 155, which runs from here along the Parc National de la Mauricie, is reached by a road which turns off about half a mile beyond Mattawin. Near Rivière-aux-Rats a roads leads off to the Saint-Mauricie Nature Reserve. Both roads are passable from mid-April to mid-November.
La Tuque, Canada
La Tuque, which was founded to exploit La Mauricie's timber, owes its industrial development to the building of a hydro-electric plant (216,000 kW). When the French first arrived here it was a major trading post.The town owes its name to a rock by the river that looks like a "tuque", the knitted cap worn by the early Canadians.
Hydro-Québec and Compagnie International du Papier Paper Factory
Hydro-Québec's hydro-electric complex about 30 km (19 mi.) north of La Tuque is also associated with a big Compagnie International du Papier papermill which can be visited.From La Tuque the railroad to Senneterre (449 km (278 mi.)) passes through the indescribably lonely terrain of Haute-Mauricie.