From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
An aerial view of Shawinigan
An aerial view of Shawinigan
Flag of Shawinigan
Official logo of Shawinigan
Nickname(s): The City of Electricity
Motto: Age Quod Agis (Do what you are doing)
Shawinigan is located in Central Quebec
Location in central Quebec.
Coordinates: 46°34′N 72°45′W / 46.567°N 72.750°W / 46.567; -72.750Coordinates: 46°34′N 72°45′W / 46.567°N 72.750°W / 46.567; -72.750[1]
Country  Canada
Province  Quebec
Region Mauricie
RCM None
Settled 1851
Constituted January 1, 2002
 • Mayor Michel Angers
 • Federal riding Saint-Maurice—Champlain
 • Prov. riding Laviolette and Saint-Maurice
 • City 798.80 km2 (308.42 sq mi)
 • Land 733.48 km2 (283.20 sq mi)
 • Urban[4] 109.93 km2 (42.44 sq mi)
 • Metro[5] 987.14 km2 (381.14 sq mi)
Population (2011)[3]
 • City 50,060
 • Density 68.2/km2 (177/sq mi)
 • Urban[4] 47,735
 • Urban density 434.3/km2 (1,125/sq mi)
 • Metro[5] 55,009
 • Metro density 55.7/km2 (144/sq mi)
 • Pop 2006-2011 Decrease 3.6%
 • Dwellings 26,302
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Postal code(s) G9N to G9T
Area code(s) 819

Route 153
Route 155
Route 157
Route 351
Route 359

Shawinigan is a city located on the Saint-Maurice River in the Mauricie area in Quebec, Canada. It had a population of 50,060 as of the Canada 2011 Census.

Shawinigan is also a territory equivalent to a regional county municipality (TE) and census division (CD) of Quebec, coextensive with the city of Shawinigan. Its geographical code is 36. Shawinigan is the seat of the judicial district of Saint-Maurice.[6]

The name Shawinigan has had numerous spellings over time: Chaouinigane, Oshaouinigane, Assaouinigane, Achawénégan, Chawinigame, Shawenigane, Chaouénigane. It may mean "south portage", "portage of beeches", "angular portage", or "summit" or "crest".[1] Before 1958 the city was known as Shawinigan Falls.


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.[1] Before Shawinigan Falls was established, the local economy had been largely based on lumber and agriculture.


Shawinigan City Hall

In the late 1890s, Shawinigan Falls drew the interest of foreign entrepreneurs such as John Joyce and John Edward Aldred of the Shawinigan Water & Power Company (SW&P), and of Hubert Biermans of the Belgo Canadian Pulp & Paper Company because of its particular geographic situation. Its falls had the potential to become a favorable location for the production of hydroelectricity.[7]

In 1899, the SW&P commissioned Montreal engineering firm Pringle and Son to 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.[8]

In 1901, the place was incorporated as the Village Municipality of Shawinigan Falls and gained town (ville) status a year later in 1902. 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).[1][9] 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. The city steadily grew eastward and northward. Meanwhile on the other side of the river, Shawinigan-Sud (then Almaville) developed as a residential hub.

Shawinigan Falls also had a vibrant English-speaking community, which at times comprised more than 30% of the population. Early on, members of the French-speaking majority and the more privileged English-speaking minority settled in segregated neighbourhoods.

Great Depression[edit]

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.

The promenade along the St Maurice was a make work project during the depression.

World War II[edit]

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.

The Shawinigan-based 81st Artillery Battery was called to active duty during World War II. Its members were trained in Ontario and the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1944 and contributed to the Allies' effort in the Normandy Landings in 1944-45, which led to the Liberation of France.[10]

In 1948, a cenotaph, known as Monument des Braves, was erected in downtown Shawinigan at the intersection of Fourth Street and Promenade du Saint-Maurice (then Riverside Street) near the Saint-Maurice River, in honour of soldiers who died during that conflict as well as World War I.

Organized labour stronghold[edit]

Due to its large labour population, Shawinigan became a hot bed for trade union activities. The workers of the Belgo pulp and paper plant went on strike in 1955. In the 1952 provincial election, Shawinigan sent a Liberal member to the legislature. The gesture was largely considered an affront to Premier Maurice Duplessis, who responded by refusing to approve the construction of a new bridge between Shawinigan and Shawinigan-Sud. The new bridge was not built until after the Liberal Party won the 1960 election.[citation needed]


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. Therefore, many employers would relocate to nearby larger cities or close down.

In 1958, it received city (cité) status, and its name was abbreviated to just Shawinigan.[1]

As a reaction to declining opportunities, many residents, many of whom were English-speakers, left the area. Shawinigan High School is the only remaining English-language school in the city following the closure of St. Patrick's (closed circa 1983).

In 1963, the provincial government of Jean Lesage nationalized eleven privately owned electricity companies, including SW&P. While benefiting the population in general, the decision may have been damaging to local interests.

Emerging hospitality industry[edit]

Following numerous failed attempts to jump start the local economy, an effort has led to the development of the hospitality industry. The most notable example of that initiative is the establishment of La Cité de l'Énergie, a theme park based on local industrial history, with a 115 metre high observation tower. Since it opened in 1997, it has attracted thousands of visitors to the area.


The "Trou du Diable" falls, with the Cité de l'Énergie tower in the background.

In 1998, Shawinigan merged with the Village Municipality of Baie-de-Shawinigan.[1]

On January 1, 2002, Shawinigan amalgamated with much of the Regional County Municipality of Le Centre-de-la-Mauricie. The following municipalities were part of the merger:

Municipality Year of Foundation [11] Population (1996) [12]
Shawinigan [13] 1901 18,678
Grand-Mère [14] 1898 14,223
Shawinigan-Sud 1912 11,804
Saint-Georges-de-Champlain 1915 3,929
Lac-à-la-Tortue 1895 3,169
Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides 1924 [15] 2,155
Saint-Jean-des-Piles 1897 693


The Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play out of the Centre Bionest de Shawinigan in Shawinigan. It is the only team in the league still operating in the same city of its founding. It played host to the 2012 Memorial Cup hockey tournament and won the Championship, defeating the London Knights in the final.

Economy and industry[edit]

  • an Alcan aluminum plant: built in 1941 and located at 1100 Boulevard Saint-Sacrement, it took over the production of a 1901 structure which is located near the Saint-Maurice River and is currently managed by La Cité de l'Énergie. It is expected to be shut down by 2015;[16]
  • the Belgo pulp and paper plant: AbitibiBowater Inc. ceased its production on February 29, 2008;[17]
  • The Laurentide Paper Company: AbitibiBowater Inc. the last major paper mill still active in Shawinigan, located in the Grand-Mère district.
  • large hydroelectric complex at Shawinigan Falls: the Shawinigan 2 (1911) and Shawinigan 3 (1948) power plants, established by the Shawinigan Water & Power Company, they have been the property of Hydro-Québec since 1963 and are also located near the Saint-Maurice River.


In recent years, the church attendance of Catholics in Shawinigan has been on the decline. As a result, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trois-Rivières has had difficulties maintaining its churches and merged a number of its parishes. The Catholic churches are:

Church Location Year of foundation Status
Saint-Pierre (Saint Peter) 792, avenue Hemlock 1901 active
Saint-Marc (Saint Mark) 1852, avenue Georges 1911 active
Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart) 17, rue de l'Église,
1911 active
Saint-Bernard (Saint Bernard) 562, 2e Rue 1912 inactive
closed in 2005 [18]
Christ-Roi (Christ the King) 1250, rue Notre-Dame 1938 inactive
closed in 1994
demolished in 2002 [19]
Sainte-Croix (Holy Cross) 2153, rue Gignac 1949 inactive
closed in 2004 [20]
Saint-Charles-Garnier (Saint Charles Garnier) 2173, avenue De la Madone 1949 active
Immaculate Heart of Mary Mission
(English-speaking community)
773, avenue de la Station 1949 inactive
closed in 1990
L’Assomption (Assumption) 4393, boulevard Des Hêtres 1951 active
Desserte Sainte Hélène (Saint Helena Mission) 2350, 93e Rue 1967 inactive

The current church building for Saint-Pierre was constructed between 1908 and 1937. The structure's stained glass was designed by Italian Canadian artist Guido Nincheri between 1930 and 1961.

Members of the Baptist community attend church at Centre Évangelique de Shawinigan, located at 773, avenue de la Station.


There are eight public schools.[21] Seven of them are under the supervision of the Commission scolaire de l'Énergie school board.

School Level Location Number of students
Carrefour Formation Mauricie Vocational education 5105, avenue Albert-Tessier 808
Centre d'éducation des adultes du Saint-Maurice Adult education 1092, rue Trudel 1,353
École secondaire des Chutes Secondary 5285, avenue Albert-Tessier 714
Immaculée-Conception (Immaculate Conception) Elementary 153, 8e Rue 220
Saint-Charles-Garnier (Saint Charles Garnier) Elementary 2265, rue Laflèche 157
Saint-Jacques (Saint James) Elementary 2015, rue Saint-Jacques 220
Saint-Joseph (Saint Joseph) Elementary 1452, rue Châteauguay 155

Children who meet Charter of the French Language guidelines can attend Shawinigan High School. Its campus is located at 1125, rue des Cèdres and is affiliated to the Central Québec school Board.

Shawinigan is also home of the Séminaire Sainte-Marie, a private institution that provides the secondary curriculum and of the Collège Shawinigan: a CEGEP whose main campus is located at 2263 Avenue du Collège;


Many of the oldest streets of Shawinigan were numbered, like the streets of Manhattan, New York. Similarly, Avenue Broadway was named after the famous Manhattan thoroughfare.

Several other streets and avenues were named to honor famous people, including:

Landmarks and notable institutions[edit]

Famous people[edit]

The city is home to:

Annual events[edit]

  • The Classique internationale de canots de la Mauricie: a prestigious marathon canoe race, held annually since 1934.
  • Grand-Mère's Fête nationale du Québec celebration: consisting of a bonfire and a live performance from local musicians, its audience arguably ranks among the largest crowds in the Mauricie area. It takes place at the Parc de la rivière Grand-Mère.[23] The tradition goes back decades ago.[24]

Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Shawinigan (Ville)" (in French). Commission de toponymie du Québec. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  2. ^ a b Geographic code 36033 in the official Répertoire des municipalités (French)
  3. ^ a b "(Code 2436033) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Shawinigan (Population centre), Quebec 2011 Census profile
  5. ^ a b Shawinigan (Census agglomeration), Quebec 2011 Census profile. The census agglomeration consists of Shawinigan, Saint-Boniface, Saint-Roch-de-Mékinac. In the 2006 census, the census agglomeration had included Grandes-Piles, but had not included Saint-Roch-de-Mékinac.
  6. ^ Territorial Division Act. Revised Statutes of Quebec D-11.
  7. ^ Transactions 2004: Life, Learning and the Arts, The Royal Society of Canada, November 19, 2004
  8. ^ Power and Planning: Industrial Towns in Québec, 1890-1950, CCA, 1996
  9. ^ Alcan célèbre le centenaire de la production d'aluminium au Canada, Alcan Inc., November 1, 2001
  10. ^ J.J. Bellemare, 60 ans d'artillerie en Mauricie, Shawinigan, 1996
  11. ^ Rapport du mandataire du Gouvernement - La réorganisation municipale du Centre-de-la-Mauricie, 2000
  12. ^ Community Profiles, Statistics Canada, 1996
  13. ^ Shawinigan includes Baie-de-Shawinigan, which was established in 1907 and merged in 1998.
  14. ^ Grand-Mère includes Sainte-Flore, which was established in 1862.
  15. ^ The Catholic parish municipality of Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides was established in 1922.
  16. ^ Lueur d'espoir pour l'aluminerie Alcan de Shawinigan, Presse canadienne, November 19, 2007
  17. ^ Belgo: le syndicat dépose un grief pour retarder la fermeture, Bernard Lepage, L'Hebdo du Saint-Maurice, December 20, 2007
  18. ^ L'église Saint-Bernard amorce sa deuxième vocation, Hugo Lemay, L'Hebdo du St-Maurice, October 28, 2007
  19. ^ Annexe II Liste des églises paroissiales vendues dans les diocèses catholiques du Québec, 1965-2002, Archimède, Université Laval
  20. ^ Bulletin des Amis de l'orgue de Québec, No. 100 - February 2005
  21. ^ This figure does not include schools located in recently merged entities such as Shawinigan-Sud. For more details, see the article for each former municipality.
  22. ^ Brasserie Le Trou du Diable
  23. ^ La fête nationale en Mauricie, Karine Parenteau, Voir, June 22, 2006
  24. ^ Vandalisme dans le parc de la rivière Grand-Mère, Clin d'oeil historique, L'Hebdo du St-Maurice, February 23, 2007

External links[edit]