Richelieu RouteHistory by water’s edge
Explored by Samuel de Champlain as early as 1609, the shores of the Richelieu River—spanning 128 km (79.5 mi.) from Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River—are lined with relics of 18th and 19th century conflicts between the colonial powers of France and England, and between Canada and the United States. All along its coast, which cuts through lush countryside, quaint historic villages abound.
The changing tides of history
Fort Lennox, located in Saint-Paul-de-l’Île-aux-Noix (where an old blockhouse also remains), and Fort Chambly are two major historic sites that perfectly illustrate the strategic waterway’s military past. Also not to be missed is the fascinating Fort Saint-Jean Museum in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The Maison nationale des Patriotes in Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu recounts an important page in Québec’s history, that of the Patriots’ rebellion of 1837-38.
To fully grasp the Richelieu’s leading role in the region’s development and in centuries of communications with communities south of the border, head to the Chambly Canal and the Saint Ours Canal, two historic sites that are still prized by pleasure boaters as well as those looking for a scenic walk or bike ride.
Lovely villages with a rich architectural heritage are scattered all along the Rivière Richelieu. Near Chambly, Saint-Mathias is home to a breathtaking old church. Across from Vieux-Beloeil, the town of Mont Saint-Hilaire is superbly situated at the foot of an orchard-lined hill. Its church, La Maison amérindienne and the Gault Nature Reserve are well worth a visit. Stop in picturesque Saint Antoine sur Richelieu along the way to Sorel-Tracy, where the Biophare reveals this city’s privileged location where the Richelieu and the St. Lawrence converge.
The Richelieu Route runs along the entire length of the west bank (Route 223), and part of the east bank (Route 133) between Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Sorel-Tracy, for a total distance of 230 km (143 mi.).