Trois-Rivières is a city in the Mauricie administrative region of Quebec, Canada, located at the confluence of the Saint-Maurice and Saint Lawrence Rivers, on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River across from the city of Bécancour. It is part of the densely populated Quebec City–Windsor Corridor and is approximately halfway between Montreal and Quebec City. Trois-Rivières is the economic and cultural hub of the Mauricie region. It was founded on July 4, 1634, the second permanent settlement in New France, after Quebec City in 1608.
The city's name, which is French for three rivers, is named for the fact that the Saint-Maurice River, which is divided by two small islands at the river's opening, has three mouths at the Saint Lawrence River. Traditionally, Trois-Rivières was referred to in English as Three Rivers, although in more recent decades it has been referred to as Trois-Rivières in both English and French. The anglicized name still appears in many areas of the town (e.g., the city's Three Rivers Academy), bearing witness to the influence of English settlers in the town. The city's inhabitants are known as "Trifluviens" (Trifluvians).
Trois-Rivières is also the name of a territory equivalent to a regional county municipality (TE) of Quebec, coextensive with the city of Trois-Rivières. Its geographical code is 371. Together with the regional county municipality of Les Chenaux, it forms the census division (CD) of Francheville (37). The municipalities within Les Chenaux and the former municipalities that were amalgamated into Trois-Rivières formerly constituted the regional county municipality of Francheville. Trois-Rivières is the seat of the judicial district of the same name. The Trois-Rivières metropolitan area also includes the city of Bécancour which is situated on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across the Laviolette Bridge.
For a long time, the area that would later become known as Trois-Rivières was frequented by Algonquins and Abenakis, who used it as a summer stopping place. The French explorer Jacques Cartier described the site while on his second journey to the New World in 1535. The name "Trois-Rivières", however, was given only in 1599, by Captain Dupont-Gravé, and first appeared on maps of the area in 1601.
In 1603, while surveying the Saint-Lawrence River, Samuel de Champlain recommended establishing a permanent settlement in the area, which was finally done on July 4, 1634, by the Sieur of Laviolette. Additional inhabitants of the original city of Trois-Rivières include: Quentin Moral, Sieur de St. Quentin; Pierre Boucher, Jacques Le Neuf, Jean Godefroy de Lintot, Michel Le Neuf du Hérisson, François Hertel, François Marguerie, René Robineau, and Jean Sauvaget. The city was the second to be founded in New France (after Quebec City, before Montreal) and – thanks to its strategic location – played an important role in the colony and in the fur trade. The settlement became the seat of a regional government in 1665. Ursuline nuns first arrived at the settlement in 1697, establishing the first school and helping local missionaries to Christianize the local Aboriginals and Métis.
French sovereignty in Trois-Rivières continued until 1760, when the city was captured as part of the British conquest of Quebec. Sixteen years later, on June 8, 1776, it was the theatre of the Battle of Trois-Rivières (part of the ill-fated invasion of the province of Quebec by Americans from the Boston area—les Bostonnais) during the American Revolutionary War.
Trois-Rivières continued to grow in stature throughout the period and beyond; in 1792 it became the seat of a judicial district, and in 1852, that of a Roman Catholic diocese, the Diocese of Trois-Rivières.
In 1908, the greater part of the city of Trois-Rivières was destroyed by a fire in which the majority of the city's original buildings, many dating back to French colonial years, were destroyed. Only a few were spared, including the Ursuline Monastery and the De Tonnancour Manor. As a result of the destruction, a major redesign and renovation of the city was undertaken, including the widening and renewal of many of the city's roads. As well, many new businesses and industries became established in the town, which attracted many new residents.
In the 1960s, Trois-Rivières undertook a large-scale project of economic diversification, including the establishment of several cultural institutions and attractions. The Old City of Trois-Rivières was declared an "historic sector" in 1964. The Laviolette Bridge, linking Trois-Rivières to Bécancour and the south shore of the Saint-Lawrence River, was opened officially on December 20, 1967. Finally, in 1969, the city appeared on Canada's academic map with the establishment of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, known for its chiropractic school, its podiatric medical education and its excellent programs for primary and secondary school education.
Although historically an important center of commerce, trade and population, Trois-Rivières has relinquished much of its earlier importance to the two major cities of Quebec: the metropolis of Montreal and the capital of Quebec City. It does, however, remain one of the principal medium-sized cities of Quebec, along with Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Gatineau.
On January 1, 2002, the former city of Trois-Rivières along with its neighbouring towns of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Sainte-Marthe-du-Cap, Saint-Louis-de-France, Trois-Rivières-Ouest, and the municipality of Pointe-du-Lac, were combined to form the new city of Trois-Rivières.