History of Lanaudiere
Many historic sites and museums attest to the rich history of the Lanaudiere region, bisected by the King’s Road, the highway that has linked Québec City and Montréal since the mid 17th century. The King’s Road (Chemin du Roy) was established in 1737 and ran from Québec City to Montréal. Travel along Lanaudière’s Road 138 and you are retracing the oldest road in North America.
In addition to its considerable historical interest, the route offers magnificent views of the St. Lawrence River.
The Île-des-Moulins historic site in Terrebonne features a sawmill, flourmill and wool-carding mill, all of which date back to the XIXth century.
The house in which Sir Wilfrid-Laurier was born, today a national historic site, chronicles the early years of the illustrious Canadian Prime Minister, the first French speaking prime minister.
As for fine art, the Art Museum of Joliette houses dazzling collections from the Middle Ages to modern times that will astonish you with their range and diversity.
Last but not least, the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum honours the famous Formula 1 race car driver, while the Louis-Cyr Museum recounts the exploits of the man once reputed to be the strongest in the world.
For something different, come explore Lac Taureau regional Park, a virtual inland sea.
Along the way, you’ll discover some of the region’s greatest cultural riches- charming villages, churches and chapels, museums, historic homes, arts and crafts, local produce, etc.
The 138 highway also affords access to one of the most beautiful natural and historic sites in all of Québec: the Islands of Berthier, a major part of the Saint-Pierre Lake archipelago, classified by UNESCO as a World Reserve.
Along the way, you’ll discover some of the region’s greatest cultural riches- charming villages, churches and chapels, museums, historic homes, arts and crafts, local produce, two wildlife preserves, the Rouge-Matawin and the Mastigouche.
Further to the north, about an hour away from Saint-Michel-des-Saints, there is an Amerindian reservation where Atikamekw (Manawan) live.
If sports activities and events abound, so do cultural happenings, like the Festival de Lanaudière - just the most prestigious classical music festival in Canada - which brings Joliette and its surrounding churches alive each summer. Lanaudière, one of the first areas to be farmed in Québec, also provides endless opportunity for sampling regional specialties as you roam its country roads.
The region also features many nature conservation areas. East of Berthierville, the Lac-Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve, which provides sanctuary for some 288 bird species each year, is the largest waterfowl staging area in North America. Along with the Rouge-Matawin and Mastigouche wildlife reserves is Parc national du Mont-Tremblant, number one among outdoor enthusiasts for its unbeatable canoeing, kayaking, camping, hiking, and cycling.
Three waterfall parks, the Chutes-Monte-à-Peine-et-des-Dalles, Parc des Cascades and the Chutes-Dorwin offer up spectacular (and refreshing!) settings for family strolls and picnics. Visitors with a taste for the unusual will appreciate the Tourbières de Lanoraie: a protected peat bog featuring a northern landscape and flora not usually found at this latitude, and the only ecological reserve in Québec that’s open to the public.