Vallee Richelieu Attractions
From its source in Lac Champlain, south-east of Montréal, the Rivière Richelieu winds its way northwards to enter the St Lawrence at Sorel. The 130 km (80 mi.) long river played a significant role in the history of both New France and New England, but even before the arrival of Europeans it was a busy trade route and communications corridor for the Indians. During the period of Anglo-French conflict, especially the years between 1754 and 1763, the Richelieu gave the warring nations and their Indian allies two-way access to the area east of Montréal. Only a few information boards along the river's course now recall those troubled times; today the quite delightful Richelieu Valley is the preserve of tourists and others in search of relaxation.
Boucherville still has a large number of 18th c. houses, among which are La Chaumière (416 rue Ste-Famille; built 1741), the Manoir Pierre-Boucher (468-470 Bd. Marie-Victorin) and the Maison Lafontaine (1780). In addition the church of St-Famille possesses some of the finest wood carvings in the whole of Canada, including side altars (dated 1808) by Louis Amable Quévillon and a 1745 tabernacle by Gilles Bolvin.
The small industrial town of Sorel is situated at the confluence of the Richelieu and the St Lawrence. It owes its name to an officer of the Carignan-Salières Regiment engaged in the 1665-66 campaign against the Iroquois. At that time Sorel was an important forward post for the French. Between 1781 and 1830 the Manoir des Gouverneurs (rue du Roi) served as a summer residence for a succession of governors of Canada.Today tourists are attracted to Sorel and the surrounding area by the numerous islands on Lake Saint-Pierre that comprise the Lake Saint-Pierre Biosphere World Heritage Reserve.
Lake Saint-Pierre Biosphere
The Lake Saint-Pierre Biosphere is a recognized UNESCO biosphere reserve. This area is comprised of numerous islands and is an important migratory stop for birds. The area is best explored using nearby Sorel-Tracy as a base.
Mont-St-Hilaire nestles at the foot of a hill bearing the same name. The town is best known for its orchards while the hill, 411 m (1350 ft) high and volcanic in origin, offers splendid views across to Lake Champlain and the U.S. states of New York and Vermont.
St-Ours, founded in 1672, is the region's oldest parish after Sorel.
Chambly, an industrial town, lies on the edge of the Montréal plain. Its principal tourist attraction is the well-preserved Fort St-Louis, steeped in 18th c. French colonial history. The stone fort was built in 1709, replacing the wooden fortifications constructed earlier by Jacques de Chambly in 1655. In 1760 the fort fell to the British, and in 1775 to the Americans. It was used to hold American prisoners of war during the 1812-14 conflict and in 1837-38 Québécois "Patriotes" were also interned here.