Shawinigan, city (1991 pop. 19,931), S Que., Canada, on the St. Maurice River. Just north are the falls of the St. Maurice, 150 ft (46 m) high, with a hydroelectric station supplying power for the city's pulp and paper mills and plants that produce aluminum, abrasives, chemicals, cellulose, and textiles. Most of the inhabitants speak French.
Shawinigan is a city located on the Saint-Maurice River in the Mauricie area in Quebec, Canada. It has a population of approximately 51,904 people (2006).

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 23.


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


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

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.

In 1901, Shawinigan Falls was incorporated and became the site of the first production of aluminum in Canadian history. Other industries included pulp and paper, chemical production and textiles.

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

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

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.

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.

Union battleground

Because of its large labor 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 anti-labour Premier Maurice Duplessis.

Duplessis 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.


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 nearby larger cities or close down.

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

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.

Merger (2001)

In 2001, 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 Population (1996)
Shawinigan 1901 18,678
Grand-Mère 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 2,155
Saint-Jean-des-Piles 1897 693

Economy and industry

  • 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;
  • the Belgo pulp and paper plant: AbitibiBowater Inc. ceased its production on February 29, 2008;
  • large hydroelectric complex at Shawinigan Falls: the Shawinigan 2 (1911) and Shawinigan 3 (1948) power plants, established by the SW&P, 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
Christ-Roi (Christ the King) 1250, rue Notre-Dame 1938 inactive
closed in 1994
demolished in 2002
Sainte-Croix (Holy Cross) 2153, rue Gignac 1949 inactive
closed in 2004
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. 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 thoroughfare, located in the same borough.

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

Landmarks and notable institutions

Famous people

The city is home to:

Annual events

  • 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. The tradition goes back decades ago.

Sister city


  • The word "Shawinigan" means "portage at the crest" in Algonquian, referring to the nearby waterfall. Before 1958 the city was known as Shawinigan Falls.
  • Traditionally, residents of Shawinigan have made a distinction between "downtown" (bas de la ville) and "uptown" (haut de la ville) Shawinigan. Downtown consists of the oldest and lowest section of town, near the river. Other sections, such as Saint-Marc and Christ-Roi (Christ the King) neighborhoods are built on higher ground and are considered uptown. Côte Saint-Marc is considered the transition between both.
  • Likewise, Shawinigan-Sud has been divided into "Almaville-en-Bas" (down) and "Almaville-en-Haut" (up) in popular culture.
  • Until the early 1950s, children under 16 years old had to observe a 9:00 p.m. curfew everyday.
  • Rue Mercier (Mercier Street), which is located in downtown Shawinigan, was named to honor Premier Honoré Mercier.
  • Until 2001, Shawinigan contained one of the tallest guyed masts in Canada, the CBC Tower.



External links

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