The upper Saint-Maurice flows through a steeply banked valley marked by glacial erosion. Its angular course is controlled by faults in the Precambrian rocks. The middle Saint-Maurice, downstream from LA TUQUE, is bordered with alluvial terraces and cuts through transversal moraines and marine clays. The lower Saint-Maurice begins at the southern extent of the Laurentides, at Grandes-Piles. With a rate of discharge of 730 m3/s, it runs through ancient sediments which are prone to gravity and slumping. It is harnessed at GRAND-MÈRE, Chutes Shawinigan and La Gabelle.
The river is a historical route of human penetration inland. Several paleo-American sites, dating from the 2nd to 17th centuries, have been discovered. In 1535 Jacques CARTIER called it Rivière de Fouez. The delta's 3 channels are the basis of the name of the city of Trois-Rivières, founded in 1634 by Guy de La Violette to promote the fur trade. The name Saint-Maurice came from the given name of Maurice Poulin de La Fontaine (c 1620-76).
The iron ore of the marshes of the lower Saint-Maurice was exploited at the historic site of Vieilles-Forges and in other foundries from the 1730s until 1908 (see LES FORGES SAINT-MAURICE).
The upper Saint-Maurice was explored in 1828. Hydroelectric energy and floating log booms made possible the establishment between 1890 and 1900 of pulp and paper mills and chemical industries in Grand-Mère and SHAWINIGAN. On the upper Saint-Maurice, the ATTIKAMEK live in the villages of Manawan, Weymontachie and Obedjiwan. LA MAURICIE NATIONAL PARK, established in 1970, attracts naturalists and tourists.
Author SERGE OCCHIETTI Revised: DON CUMMINGS
Links to Other Sites
Forges du Saint-Maurice National Historic Site of Canada
This Parks Canada site presents the intriguing history of French and English iron making operations at Canada's first industrial village.