The second oldest city in Quebec, Trois-Rivières sits at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Saint-Maurice Rivers. In fact, its name means ‘Three Rivers’, as it has three mouths along the St Lawrence River.
Trois-Rivières is the cultural hub of the Maurice region, as well as being one of the oldest industrial cities in Canada. Still, it is its history that puts it on the map, with its ‘old city’ being the main draw for tourists.
The Saint-Maurice River splits the city into two, with both the city centre and the old city sitting on the south side of it. However, there are things to see and do on both sides of the river.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Trois-Rivières:
1. Go back in time
Although it is much smaller than Montreal and Quebec City’s old town, Trois-Rivières’ old city is its main draw and a must for any visitor.
Go back in time and stroll along Rue des Ursulines, which is the oldest road in the city. It is also home to numerous buildings that have been classified as cultural properties.
It is a low-key area that is extremely picturesque. There are over 50 buildings in the old city that date back to as far as 1650.
2. Learn about the Ursulines
Ursulines refer to religious institutions of the Catholic Church, which were, at one time, a very dominant presence in Trois-Rivières. Learn more about the life of the Ursulines by visiting the Musée Des Ursulines.
The museum sits in the old city along Rue des Ursulines. It is housed within an old school, hospital and monastery.
Tour the various buildings and see the numerous exhibitions at the Musée Des Ursulines. Go on a journey dating back over 300 years as you walk through the exhibits.
3. See Quebec’s unique culture
See all things in true Québécois style at the Québec Museum of Folk Culture. The museum features different exhibitions that showcase the province’s unique culture.
There are over 60,000 items in the museum’s collection, all of which have been donated. More than half were donated by Robert-Lionel-Séguin, with this collection displaying artefacts from all ages of history.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, all of which, in some way, showcase the culture of the province. These can be anything from a local artist exhibition to a historical doll collection.
4. Go to jail
Not literally, but it is possible to visit the Old Prison of Trois-Rivières. The prison is adjacent to the Québec Museum of Folk Culture and many visit the two together in one visit.
The old prison officially opened its doors in 1822 and remained open until 1986. Today, it is classified as a historical monument.
Tour the prison with a guide and learn about the history of the building and its inmates. You can even spend a night behind bars, complete with breakfast and a t-shirt that you can take home as a souvenir.
5. Go to church
You don’t have to go to a service to admire the Basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Cap, although the Catholic Church does still receive thousands of pilgrims each year. It is a Norman Gothic building that sits on the north side of the river.
Basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Cap is a magnificent church that dates back to 1720. The church features some beautiful stained glass windows and houses one of the largest organs in the country.
The central dome of the basilica rises to 38 metres above the sanctuary. The exterior is just as impressive as the inside of the building.
6. Explore a manor
Boucher-De Niverville Manor is a historic monument near Old Town Trois-Rivières. Explore the manor and immerse yourself in the city’s history and culture.
Tour the manor and see its permanent collection of clothing, artwork, food jars and furniture that belonged to Marie-Josephte Chastelain and Joseph-Claude Boucher de Niverville. Learn about this bourgeois couple and the days of the French regime.
Boucher-De Niverville Manor also hosts a temporary exhibition each year.
7. Visit the birthplace of the iron industry
Just to the north of the city is Forges du Saint-Maurice, which is the birthplace of Canada’s iron industry. It was created on 25 March 1730 and today is a National Historic Site.
The forge employed around 100 artisans from Burgundy, as well as 300 to 400 labourers. Pots, stoves and pans were some of the first iron products to be made here.
The Forges du Saint-Maurice is now a park and a historic village, complete with trails through the lovely grounds. It is a great place to spend an afternoon.
8. Snap photos of a bridge
One of the city’s major landmarks is the Laviolette Bridge; an arch bridge that crosses the St Lawrence River. The bridge connects Trois-Rivières to Bécancour on the south side of the river.
Laviolette Bridge is an impressive structure that boasts an elegant design. It is also the only bridge that crosses the river between Montreal and Quebec City.
The bridge spans for a total of 2,707 metres and has 34 pillars. Snap photos of this magnificent bridge at any hour of the day.
9. Look at art
Galerie d’art du Parc is a gallery and an exhibition centre that is housed in the Manoir de Tonnancour (Manor of Tonnancour). The manor itself is heritage building that dates back to 1725.
The gallery displays work by regional, national and international artists. It has also helped some local artists gain fame.
Galerie d’art du Parc predominately displays contemporary art, hosting a number of exhibitions each year. It also offers creative workshops for all ages.
10. Watch a race
Each August, Trois-Rivières hosts the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. If you are a car racing fan, this event is not to be missed.
The 3-day racing event features a number of races that run along the Circuit Trois-Rivières. In addition to races, the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières also features other thrilling events, like an unforgettable fireworks show, a tuning show and a chance to get up close to the cars in the race.
Races that take place throughout the event include rallycross races, superquads, motocross and of course NASCAR races. The circuit is also used for other events throughout the month.
11. Go bowling
Salon de Quilles Quillorama has been pleasing bowling enthusiastics since 1959. Head to the bowling alley and enjoy a bowling game.
The bowling alley is open 7 days a week and has moonlight hours on the weekends. There is also, of course, shoe rentals available.
Cold beer on tap and snacks are sold at the snack bar, as are cocktails. There is also a small shop where you can pick up all of the bowling gear that you need.
12. Bar hop
The city’s main drinking strip is Rue des Forges, which runs from the St. Lawrence River to Rue Bellefeuille. Walk along this strip and bar hop, going from one bar to the next.
Most of the bars lie between the river and Rue Royale. There are also other bars around the city that are fun to check out, particularly along Boulevard des Forges.
There are not many nightclubs in Trois-Rivières, although they can be found. Most visitors (and locals) generally just stick to the bar scene.
Much of Trois-Rivières’ downtown core has turned into a pedestrian mall filled with boutiques. There are also a couple of large scale shopping malls in the city.
Centre commercial Les Rivières is by far the largest mall in the city, boasting around 150 boutiques as well as food counters and services. Known brands like RW & CO, Sketchers and Yves Rocher can be found, as can Canadian brand shops.
There is also Les Galeries du Cap, which is on the north side of the Saint-Maurice River. This is a budget-friendly mall with cheaper shops, like Walmart and Dollarama.
14. Visit an island
Right at the confluence of the Saint-Maurice and St. Lawrence Rivers are three islands. Though Saint-Quentin Island is the one with the most to offer.
Visit this island and spend the day at the beach, or going cycling or hiking along one of its trails. The island also boasts a park and a marina.
If you choose, you can stay overnight on Saint-Quentin Island, as it has camping facilities. It also hosts numerous annual festivals.
15. Explore a biosphere reserve
Just across the St. Lawrence River is the Lac-Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve, which is recognised by UNESCO. Explore the reserve and immerse yourself in nature.
The Lac-Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve is particularly known for its heron nesting, being the largest nesting ground in the world. There are over 5,000 of these amazing birds in the reserve, as well as a number of other bird species.
The reserve is also home to 27 species of rare plants and 79 species of fish. In fact, around 90 per cent of the area has been completely untouched, making it a true haven for nature lovers.