The Mauricie region is located halfway between Montréal and Québec. It covers an area of 39,924 km2 , of which 80% is land under public ownership. It is classified as one of seven “resource regions” in Québec, and its economy is based on the extraction, processing and development of its natural resources.
In 2006, the region had a population of 260,461, mainly living in the towns of Trois-Rivières, Shawinigan and La Tuque. The 49 municipalities in the region are grouped into the regional county municipalities of Mékinac, Maskinongé and Des Chenaux. Two Native reserves, Wemotaci and Obedjiwan, are occupied by members of the Attikamek nation.
The rivière Saint-Maurice has always played a key role in the region’s economic development. It has a large drainage basin with a high flow rate, where nine of the ten hydroelectric power stations in the Mauricie region are located. The Gouin, Blanc and Manouane reservoirs also reflect the importance of hydroelectricity in the region.
The forests in the Mauricie region are characterized by their range of colour, with stands of hardwoods, mixed stands with hardwoods and softwoods, and areas of boreal forest where softwoods predominate. The region is well known for its forestry activities, with 22 mills including four large pulp and paper mills and twelve sawmills. Almost 11,000 jobs depend directly on the forests, while around 35% of jobs in the manufacturing sector are connected with the pulp and paper industry.
The region abounds in wildlife thanks in part to its 17,500 lakes, and includes 76 outfitting operations, 11 wildlife management areas (ZECs) and 2 wildlife reserves. Each year, 40,000 fishers and 17,000 hunters are active in the region, which shares with the Centre-du-Québec region the renowned Lac Saint-Pierre, designated by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve. In addition to the wealth of species present, this body of water is the largest migratory stop on the fleuve Saint-Laurent, visited each year by dozens of bird species.
Few viable deposits of common or precious metals have been found in the Mauricie region. Most mining in the region involves the extraction of sand, gravel and architectural stone, and the region is practically the only Canadian source of mica.
Cottage development, recreation and tourism
The region is gaining new impetus from new, high-quality commercial resorts in the forest environment and the growth of other eco-tourism, water sports and adventure activities. Outdoor activities are the main focus, and go beyond hunting and fishing. The La Mauricie National Park of Canada makes an important contribution to growth, attracting over 200,000 visitors each year. The 11,000 private cottages in the region are also an important economic component.
Hydroelectricity, pulp and paper production and forestry are still the mainstays of the region’s economic activity. Thanks to new technologies, the regional economy has undergone profound changes and become more diversified. By placing the emphasis on value-added products, the Mauricie region will be able to ensure its economic growth in the near future, and the ongoing viability of business activities based on natural resources.