Grand-Mere is located on the St. Maurice River, about 35 km north of Trois-Rivieres City.
Today, it’s a neighbourhood of Shawinigan City. It has a population of about 15,000. The community takes its name from a large stone, bearing a startling resemblance to an old woman, which used to protrude in the middle of a nearby waterfall on the St. Maurice River.
In 1916 the rock was however moved to the centre of town and is now an interesting tourist attraction. The first Europeans to visit the region were French missionary who came here in 1651, but the area remained unsettled for nearly two centuries. In the middle of the 19th century lumbermen began to work in the local forest.
Besides, some small-scale trapping and logging on the St-Maurice constituted the only economic activity. Grand-Mere Village was founded when a hydroelectric power station was built on the site of Grand-Mere Falls by Montréal businessman John Forman, in 1889. Two decades later, a new power station was open. Since then Grand-Mere has grown significantly and attracted a number of industries.
The community is an important railway and river transportation centre serving the lumber, pulp and paper, hydroelectric and textile industries operating in and around Grand-Mere. Indeed, the abundance of relatively inexpensive electricity led to the development of industry, primarily based on the production of paper.
Logs which were used for the paper pulp were floated downstream on the St. Maurice to the paper mill from more northerly areas. The mill, which has changed ownership over the decades, has had a lasting impact on the town, from the creation of its golf course to the construction of several of Grand-Mere historic buildings.
The surrounding area consists of forested hills, lakes, and flat plains and farms, with much glacial activity still evident. The area's biggest attraction is La Mauricie National Park.
Note that the Mauricie Region in which Grand-Mere is located boasts some of the most inexpensive real estate in Canada.