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LANAUDIERE: FROM YESTERDAY TO TODAY

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The River:
The history of Lanaudière is first and foremost a story of the great settlement movement along the St. Lawrence River, the only major highway for the original Indian inhabitants and, later on, for the new arrivals from France.

The Amerindian heritage has been traced back as far as the 14th century through archeological sites in Quebec. Today, in the far north of the region, the village of Manawan remains an aboriginal reserve where a community of Attikamek lives.

The 17th century heritage of New France is still apparent in the geographic shape of the region: a long rectangle set perpendicular to the river, reminiscent of the layout of the seigniories (lordly manors). The banks of the St. Lawrence were the first place to be settled and the seigniories were divided up into long, thin lots so the maximum number of people could have access to the waterway. The seigniories of Lanaudière were some of the first to be established along the St. Lawrence River valley. They included: Repentigny (1640), Saint-Sulpice (1640) and d’Autray (1637). Certain officers of the Carignan regiment obtained concessions that would eventually bear their name (Berthier, Lavaltrie, La Noraye, etc.), and they become some of the first seigneur-entrepreneurs.

Settlement continued along the region’s rivers and close to waterfalls or rapids, where the hydro power could be harnessed for saw and flour mills. Most of the villages of the plain and foothills sprang up this way. Barthélemy Joliette built towns by skillfully exploiting the forests and waterfalls, and in the 1820s he founded the town that now bears his name. It became the archdiocese, in effect, the regional capital. More than a century later, in 1960, the name of his wife, Charlotte de Lanaudière, was adopted as the regional name. The final stage of settlement was the conquest of the Laurentian heights. This pioneering movement was led in large part by the curates Provost and Brassard in the 1860s with the opening of the Matawinie region, seen at that time as the gates to the promised land of the North.

Rich Heritage: The colourful tapestry of Lanaudière’s history can be observed and enjoyed today in the town centres: (Berthierville’s Rue Frontenac or Joliette’s Boulevard Manseau and Place Bourget); in the villages (Rang York in Saint-Barthélemy, Rang Saint-Louis and the unique block-houses in Saint-Esprit, or Rang Saint-Albert in Saint-Thomas, with its former tobacco dryers); in the peacefulness and beauty of the religious sites (Repentigny’s Purification Church or the church of Sainte-Geneviève-de-Berthier); in historical sites such as Terrebonne’s Île-des-Moulins and its imposing 19th century buildings; and in Le Chemin du Roy (King’s Road), Canada’s earliest major highway.

The King’s Road: In 1706, the governing council decided to build a highway alongside the St. Lawrence River linking Quebec City with Montreal. Work was begun in 1731 and completed in 1737. It was the first highway in Canada to be navigable by carriage and became the principal conduit for travellers and mail. Today, Route 138 mostly runs along the same path and the King’s Road tourist route in Lanaudière begins in Repentigny. Much of Quebec’s history and character can be traced and enjoyed here: from heritage sites (mills, churches, ancestral homes, art galleries, etc.) to the magnificent scenery (spectacular river views).

The Arrowhead Sash, Emblem of Lanaudière: Lanaudière’s history is symbolized by the traditional arrowhead sash, also known as the L’Assomption sash. With its striking flame and lightning design, the sash is an outstanding example of the hand-weaver’s art. It originally served as a medium of exchange with the Indians of the region as well as being worn about the waists of the fur trade voyageurs as they travelled out West. Artisans still produce the sash by hand in our region. This ancient skill, unique to Quebec, is being kept alive in Lanaudière.

Sports and the Outdoors: There are so many ways to enjoy the outdoors in Lanaudière: on foot, by bicycle, canoe, horseback, motorcycle, car, float plane, ATV or snowmobile. Whatever your sport or medium of transportation, you can practice it here.

Ranked number one in the world as a snowmobiler’s paradise --
"No one does it better than Lanaudière"
That’s what the snowmobile enthusiasts’ magazine Supertrax International said about Lanaudière for the second year in a row (Fall 2004).

Just imagine: in Lanaudière we get snow for two months longer than our neighbours to the south! Here you can ride endlessly over 2,300 km of safe, well-groomed trails, with spectacular views and an excellent network of services, including lodging and stops specially oriented to the needs of snowmobilers. Lanaudière has 30 years of experience in being the snowmobiling capital.

Opportunities for winter sports are everywhere in this region. We have four downhill skiing resorts, the longest river skating track (9 km round-trip) and the tallest slides in Quebec, as well as dog-sledding under the moonlight, and a huge network of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. We are also the first region to make fishing available year-round.

Summer sports are just as abundant. Explore the region by canoe or boat on the large lakes of Maskinonge, Ouareau, Archambault, Taureau and Kempt. Or navigate the L’Assomption and St. Lawrence rivers and stop in at the many well-equipped marinas. From the water you’ll see Lanaudière in a completely different way. There are plenty of beaches and other great swimming spots, too. Plus many scenic hiking and mountain biking trails in our six regional parks, along the 170-km Sentier National (National trail) and in Mont-Tremblant National Park.

Summer is, of course, the season of golf. Lanaudière can boast several major courses, including one of Canada most important: Le Versant in Terrebonne. Throughout the region, there are numerous golf and other sporting events, from local to international, all year long.

Another attractive feature of Lanaudière is the many outdoor recreational centres, lively resorts, often on lakes, with lots of fun activities for the whole family, winter and summer.

Rich Local Culture: Lanaudière appeals to all the senses with its long tradition of music and culture! Indeed, the "green region" could as easily be called the "musical region". Here the music seems to flow from the land, with the natural harmony of landscapes and colours, the gentle melodies of the rivers and waterfalls, and the lyricism of the local place-names.

Lanaudière has always been a cradle of music and musicians: many of Quebec’s best-loved folk music groups and singers sprang from here. This is also the birthplace of one of the world’s biggest singing stars, Céline Dion, who grew up in Charlemagne. And each year, Lanaudière plays host to the most important summer classical music festival in Canada.
Always Something to Celebrate!Lanaudière loves to celebrate! All year long, you’re invited to enjoy our many festivals and cultural events: craft fairs, markets and local produce, ice sculptures, street festivals, summer theatres, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, Acadian Festival of Saint-Liguori, the symphony of fall foliage colours, and so much more.