Terrebonne is no longer a small village. It is a vast territory where three municipalities have merged their strength. A day in Terrebonne can be a full day of activities where you can explore some public “street” art, appreciate outdoor activities, see historic buildings and houses, learn about history, do some bird watching, enjoy a picnic by the water, grab a beer on a terrace of one of the restaurants and/or see a show in the theater.
North of Montreal and Laval, you can find, in the city of Terrebonne, the Old Terrebonne, the Trans-Terrebonne trails and other parks. The Old Terrebonne by itself groups multiple activities.
Despite the 1922 destructive fire that left a third of the population homeless, a synergy among the residents and around the village helped in the reconstruction of the lost homes.
Vieux Terrebonne / Old Terrebonne
In Old Terrebonne, a must-see sector is the Ile-des-Moulins. You may have different reasons to visit: to walk around, to train, to see artwork, to admire historical buildings, to witness the power of water, to see blue herons nesting and more.
The Ile-des-Moulins (translates to Mills Island) has been the center of one of the most important seigniorial systems in Quebec history and today a central point to appreciate the region. On this island, facing Miles-Iles River, you can walk around the path and notice the historical buildings surrounding this site that used the power of the water to support production. Mills (including flour and saw), a bakery and offices were on this location from about the 1720’s until the 1940’s. After a few years of neglect, efforts were made to restore the buildings and the place is currently a nice place to explore. The renovated buildings offer different dedications: a restaurant, a public library, and a small event presentation room in this surrounding area which is awesome during all seasons. These businesses are only accessible on foot but are not far from the parking area.
You will find multiple picnic spots and in winter the pond becomes a nice ice rink. Pieces of art are dispersed in the park to embellish your walk.
To reach the island, a small wooden pedestrian-only bridge is accessible from the old Terrebonne and allows you to reach the Ile-des-Moulins. In addition, via a pathway above the dam, you can reach another park on Ile-St-Jean Island. There are a few parks connected to the Ile-des-Moulins. See below.
The Ile-des-Moulins is not the only green area in this neighbourhood. In fact, the island is connected to a few parks.
When arriving by car, you will likely pass by Parc Masson by rue St-Louis in front of the College Saint-Sacrement.
Joseph Masson was a seigneur in Terrebonne and a prosperous businessman. His widow had a manor built which is now the front building of the College Saint-Sacrement. To clear the front view, the buildings in front were demolished. After her death, gloriettes were built and the land was given to the city against the protection of the gloriettes and for the park to become public.
On the side of the Parc Masson, you will notice a monument dedicated to the brave and the locals who fought during wars. Names are engraved on the monument to remember them.
This park can be reached via the pathway above the dam and extends your walking distance. It is where we were able to spot some blue herons nesting, if you appreciate bird watching. The Pointe-de-l’île offers soft training exercise instructions along the walking path.
Parc Jardins Vitré
This park is at the side and behind the Vieux Terrebonne Theater and parking area. There is a playground, if you have children with you, it can be the place to have them climb and move around. From there you can reach the Hotel de Ville (city town hall).
I recommend you drive to and walk on St-Louis Street. The variety of elegant and historic buildings are notable. You will see traditional Canadian architectural housing, a small stylish Anglican Church of St-Michael’s, the Masson Manor, now the façade of the College Saint-Sacrement, the Church of Saint-Louis-de-France and beautiful stone constructions.
The private high school was once led by a congregation of fathers as a learning facility for future ecclesiastic members but even prior to being an educational building, it was a residence. Lady Sophie Raymond-Masson was the wife of Joseph Masson, a rich businessman. They dreamed of having a home at the level of their income. After his passing, she had the imposing house built in 1852 where she lived with her children. The gated residence was considered a manor by many locals.
The current high-school building is the result of a few expanded works. It even holds a very unique chapel. Saint-Tharcisius Chapel was built in 1912 once it was under the hands of the fathers.
The college has beautiful grounds with a front fountain, outdoor sports facilities and a theater. Weddings, presentations and conferences can be held in this building.
At 825 rue Saint-Louis you can find the St-Louis-de-France Church was inaugurated in 1879. The land was given by Sophie Raymond-Masson (widow of the Seigneur Joseph Masson) and she also provided the stone for the construction of the church. She and her family, along with other nobles, are buried in the crypt under the church.
Other historical buildings
On Boulevard des Braves, near rue St-Louis, sits the Maison Delorme-Bouc. This solid stone construction was built in 1741. It was later expanded to allow a portion of it to be rented. A hat manufacturer led by Abner Baggs, a Massachusetts businessman in a diverse field, established part of his activities in this building in 1830. The building was also the location of the city council for a few years (1922-1931) after the important fire in the village and later, a shoe factory. Today, lofts occupy this well-located wide building.
While this house is considered part of the Ile-des-Moulins historical buildings, this construction is not on the island. The building is on Francois-Xavier Street which is just across the street from the island.
While the house was built in 1759, Mr. Belisle purchased it in 1916 and used the adjacent building for his store.
In 1973, the house was considered a historical monument by the government of Quebec. Unfortunately, in 1999, a big fire destroyed the house and only a stone wall remained. It was rebuilt to its original character. It is open to the public and presents the history of Terrebonne. In 2023, it is under renovation.
You will find art in different forms in the old Terrebonne: sculptures, murals, stores and of course, the theatre, along with the event room at the Moulinet on the Ile-des-Moulins.
Eat and beer
Many cafés, restaurants, bars and sweet stores offer something to taste. Enjoy a beer on a terrace, a piece of refined chocolate, a gastronomic or a more simple meal at one of the restaurants. Nice festive atmosphere in this area.