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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)|
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,|
|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|
|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|
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;
Several other streets and avenues were named to honor famous people, including: