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Official seal of Val-des-Sources
Location within Les Sources RCM.
Location within Les Sources RCM.
Val-des-Sources is located in Southern Quebec
Location in southern Quebec.
Coordinates: 45°46′N 71°56′W / 45.767°N 71.933°W / 45.767; -71.933Coordinates: 45°46′N 71°56′W / 45.767°N 71.933°W / 45.767; -71.933[1]
RCMLes Sources
ConstitutedDecember 8, 1999
 • MayorHugues Grimard
 • Federal ridingRichmond—Arthabaska
 • Prov. ridingRichmond
 • Town31.70 km2 (12.24 sq mi)
 • Land29.67 km2 (11.46 sq mi)
 • Town7,096
 • Density239.1/km2 (619/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Pop 2006-2011
Increase 4.1%
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Postal code(s)
Area code(s)819
Highways Route 249
Route 255

Val-des-Sources (French pronunciation: ​[ʁs]), formerly known as Asbestos (pronounced [asbɛstoz]), is a town in the Estrie (Eastern Townships) region of southeastern Quebec, Canada on the Nicolet River.[4] The town is the seat of Les Sources Regional County Municipality, formerly known as the Asbestos Regional County Municipality. The town covers an area of 29.67 square kilometres (11.5 sq mi), including land acquired due to the merger of the City of Asbestos with the Municipality of Trois-Lacs on December 8, 1999.

At the 2011 census, 7,096 people resided in the town. It is situated in the centre of a square formed by the cities of Drummondville, Sherbrooke and Victoriaville, and the Nicolet River to the north. It is the site of the Jeffrey mine, which used to be the world's largest asbestos mine,[5] which has long been the town's largest employer, and of the now-closed Magnola magnesium refinery. It was the site of the famous 1949 Asbestos strike.

Due to the negative connotations of the name Asbestos, discussions took place around whether the town should change its name. A municipal referendum held in October 2020 selected the new name Val-des-Sources.[6] The change was approved by the Quebec government on December 17, 2020.


During the 1960s the town was thriving and it could afford to expand and invest in its infrastructure and artistic patrimony. It provided itself with a new modern town hall whose main hallway was adorned with a grand mural by the artist Denis Juneau, as well as some ceramic pieces in the church by the famed ceramist Claude Vermette.

Canada's biggest power shovel loading an ore train with asbestos at the Jeffrey Mine, Johns-Manville Co., Asbestos, Quebec, June 1944.

In late 2011, the town's two remaining asbestos mines, Lac d'Amiante du Canada and the Jeffrey mine, halted operations.[7] In June 2012, a $58-million loan was promised by the Quebec government to restart and operate the Jeffrey mine for the next 20 years.[8] In September 2012, before the loan funds were delivered, the Parti Québécois defeated the Quebec Liberal Party in the Quebec provincial election. The Parti Québécois followed through with an election promise to halt asbestos mining and to cancel the loan, and put funding toward economic diversification in the area.[9][10]

Proposed name change[edit]

At various times since the decline of asbestos mining, residents and politicians in the area have proposed changing the town's name due to its negative connotations;[11] however, past proposals often failed, with people involved in the debate noting that because the town is predominantly francophone and the mineral is referred to as amiante rather than asbestos in French, its residents do not typically associate the town's name with the stigma around the mineral.[12]

A name change plan was approved by the municipal council in November 2019, with the new name chosen by a public poll.[13] On September 14, 2020, the mayor announced that residents would be able to vote to rename the town to either Apalone, Jeffrey, Phénix or Trois-Lacs.[14] The choices were not well received, and more names were added to the list. The referendum was held in October to allow the townspeople to choose between six names: L'Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Trois-Lacs, Val-des-Sources, or Phénix.[15] The referendum results were announced on October 19, 2020. 51.5% of voters chose the name Val-des-Sources in the third round of a preferential ballot.[16] In Quebec, a municipal name change must be proposed to the Commission de toponymie du Québec and then approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing before it takes effect,[17] which occurred on December 17, 2020. For most purposes the name change will take immediate effect, although the town's rebranding of its own billboards is not expected to take place until January 2021, and Canada Post will require until April 19, 2021 to complete the necessary changes in its postal addressing system.[18]

Some residents who remained opposed to the name change organized a petition drive calling on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to deny its approval, on the grounds that not enough of the town's residents participated in the referendum, and that the referendum did not include any option to express a preference for maintaining the existing name.[19] Minister Andrée Laforest rejected the petition and approved the name change on December 17, 2020.[18]



Canada census – Val-des-Sources community profile
2011 2006
Population: 7,096 (+4.1% from 2006) 6,819 (+3.6% from 2001)
Land area: 29.67 km2 (11.46 sq mi) 29.67 km2 (11.46 sq mi)
Population density: 239.1/km2 (619/sq mi) 229.8/km2 (595/sq mi)
Median age: 51.1 (M: 48.4, F: 53.5) 49.5 (M: 48.0, F: 51.0)
Total private dwellings: 3,467 3,429
Median household income: $36,994 $36,678
Notes: Population in 1996: 6,793[20] (+4.7% from 1991) - Population in 1991: 6,487[20]
Includes corrections and updates for 1996. – References: 2011[21] 2006[22] earlier[23]


Canada Census Mother Tongue - Asbestos, Quebec[24]
Census Total
French & English
Year Responses Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop % Count Trend Pop %
6,775 Increase 4.9% 97.41% 115 Increase 43.8% 1.65% 40 Increase 60.0% 0.58% 25 Decrease 73.7% 0.36%
6,460 Increase 2.1% 97.00% 80 Decrease 11.1% 1.20% 25 Increase 150.0% 0.38% 95 Increase 850.0% 1.43%
6,325 Increase 5.8% 98.29% 90 Increase 5.9% 1.40% 10 Increase n/a% 0.16% 10 Decrease 66.7% 0.16%
5,980 n/a 98.11% 85 n/a 1.39% 0 n/a 0.00% 30 n/a 0.49%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reference number 2261 of the Commission de toponymie du Québec (in French)
  2. ^ a b Geographic code 40043 in the official Répertoire des municipalités (in French)
  3. ^ a b "(Code 2440043) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012.
  4. ^ "Asbestos" in The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, p. 613.
  5. ^ Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (U.S.) (March 5, 2006). Industrial minerals & rocks: commodities, markets, and uses. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-87335-233-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Quebec town of Asbestos votes to change name to Val des Sources". CityNews, October 19, 2020.
  7. ^ "Asbestos mining stops for first time in 130 years". Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "Asbestos mine reboot with Quebec cash sparks criticism". April 14, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Quebec Budget: Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau tightens spending, levies new taxes Archived November 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Canada won't oppose asbestos limits". Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  11. ^ "Five years after asbestos mine closure, Quebec town seeks new identity". The Globe and Mail, August 25, 2016.
  12. ^ Amy Luft, "Tired of being linked to toxic substance, the Quebec town of Asbestos is changing its name". CTV News Montreal, November 27, 2019.
  13. ^ Olson, Isaac (November 27, 2019). "Town of Asbestos, Que., changing its name". CBC News. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  14. ^ Lowrie, Morgan (September 18, 2020). "Asbestos halts name change process after residents say they hate the alternatives". Montreal Gazette. Canadian Press. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  15. ^ Leavitt, Sarah (October 18, 2020). "Set to be renamed, Asbestos, Que., grapples with history, identity". CBC News. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Jérémy Bernier, "Asbestos devient Val-des-Sources". Le Journal de Québec, October 19, 2020.
  17. ^ "Town of Asbestos chooses new name: Val-des-Sources". Montreal Gazette, October 20, 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Town of Asbestos officially renamed to Val-Des-Sources". CTV News Montreal, December 17, 2020.
  19. ^ Michel Saba, "Citizens had 'illusory power' in renaming, says man behind Asbestos petition". Montreal Gazette, October 22, 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Electronic Area Profiles". Canada 1996 Census. Statistics Canada. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  21. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  22. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  23. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.
  24. ^ Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 census

External links[edit]