Fifty years of passion have gone into La Mauricie National Park. It is a story of people who believed in the potential of the land and worked hard to develop it so that all generations could enjoy it, help protect it and experience the joys of being outdoors.

Since its creation in 1970, the park has never stopped evolving, from its beginnings as a simple project to its current status as a popular outdoor destination. Here are a few of its historical highlights.

  1. 1970–1980: An eventful decade
  2. 1980–1990: On the road to maturity
  3. 1990–2010: Becoming sophisticated!
  4. 2010 to present: Fresh updates

1. 1970–1980: An eventful decade

Claire Kirkland-Casgrain and the Honourable Jean Chrétien sign the agreement.
: Claire Kirkland-Casgrain and the Honourable Jean Chrétien sign the agreement on August 22, 1970.
Source : Le Nouvelliste

After several months of hard work, the agreement between the federal and provincial governments was signed on August 22, 1970. At this time, the area officially became a national protected area.

The park now existed on paper, but still needed to be designed. Work quickly began to create the trails, campgrounds and picnic areas that would allow people to experience the incredible landscape. The massive Parkway construction project began in 1971. Four years later, in 1975, 12.9 kilometres of road had been completed. The first trip across the park was made in 1978 in an off-road vehicle.

In June 1977, La Mauricie National Park officially became Canada’s 22nd national park.

Interesting facts

  • The first campground opened in May 1972 in the Esker area.
  • The Saint-Mathieu Visitor Reception Centre was inaugurated on August 8, 1976.
  • The first ever sports competition to be held in a Canadian national park took place in the park on July 1, 1979. It was the Saint-Jean-des-Piles marathon.
  • The educational role of the park was quickly established and, as of 1972, visitors were able to meet with naturalists.

Meanwhile, conservation efforts continue...

2. 1980–1990: On the road to maturity

The Right Honourable Pierre-Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, and the Honourable Jean Chrétien stand on each side of the park’s commemorative plaque.
La Mauricie National Park was officially inaugurated in the presence of the Right Honourable Pierre-Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, and the Honourable Jean Chrétien.

La Mauricie National Park was on its way. Visitor services were put in place; the Shewenegan (1975) and Lac Edouard (1980) Picnic Areas, which both included washroom facilities, a boat rental booth and a snack bar, welcomed thousands of visitors every summer.

At the park’s official inauguration on September 6, 1981, at the Shewenegan Picnic Area, Parks Canada estimated that the construction of the park was 85% complete. One of the most striking features was undeniably the Parkway, now paved across all 63 km and crossing the park from one entrance to the other.

In 1982, the Saint-Jean-des-Piles entrance became the main entrance, and its reception and interpretation centre opened on July 17, 1983.

Interesting facts

  • In 1981, there were 450 campsites in the park. Campsites could not be reserved, but were rented on a “first-come, first-served” basis.
  • At the first tourism gala held by the Association touristique du Centre-de-la-Mauricie in September 1982, the park won for the “Tourist Attraction of the Year—Public Sector” category.
  • Starting in 1983, fishers were required to participate in random draws at the entrances or in campgrounds to be able to fish.
  • On January 23, 1988, the 1988 Loppet, the first cross-country skiing competition in La Mauricie National Park, welcomed 248 participants.

Meanwhile, conservation efforts continue...

3. 1990–2010: Becoming sophisticated!

A family walks by the Wabenaki Lodge.
The Wabenaki and Andrew Lodges were added to the park’s accommodations in 1990.

The Wabenaki and Andrew Lodges had been available by reservation in the winter for over 10 years, but both opened in the summer for the first time in 1990. Other new additions included the opening of several hiking trails, such as the Lac Étienne and Deux-Criques trails in 1997 and the Vieux-Brûlis and Laurentien trails in 1998.

In 1996, it became easier for visitors from outside the region to stay at the campgrounds, as a telephone reservation system was put in place, replacing the “first-come, first-served” approach. In 2005, more than 60% of campers came from the Montréal area.

Another significant new feature was the introduction of seasonal passes in 2003. During the same period, the Discovery Pass was launched, providing admission to all locations managed by Parks Canada.

Interesting facts

  • The summer of 1994 was very rough; on June 21, a hail and wind storm forever changed the appearance of the Shewenegan Picnic Area. Just a few weeks later, lightning struck again, causing 7 campers to be hospitalized.
  • On October 12, 2002, La Presse named the Deux-Criques Trail one of the 10 most beautiful hiking trails in Quebec.
  • Les Défis du Parc, the first cycling event to take place entirely in a Canadian national park, was held in 2007.

Meanwhile, conservation efforts continue...

4. 2010 to present: Fresh updates

A family winter camping in an oTENTIk tent; the father helps the children put on snowshoes on the stairs, while the mother watches from the porch.
Since 2014, oTENTik winter camping has been an experience for families to discover.

The Rivière à la Pêche Service Centre opened on June 15, 2010, on the 40th anniversary of the park. Additionally, in order to provide visitors with a worry-free outdoor experience, 10 oTENTik tents were officially inaugurated on July 24, 2012, at the Rivière à la Pêche Campground. The next year, 3 more units were added and, as of 2014, they were also made available in the winter.

From 2015 to 2020, the Government of Canada will have invested a record amount in Parks Canada’s infrastructure. Through this program, La Mauricie National Park has been able to restore facilities built during its early years and ensure that future generations will also be able to enjoy safe, high-quality, rewarding experiences for the next 50 years.

Interesting facts

  • Two major shows took place at the Shewenegan Picnic Area: Elisapie Isaac in 2010 on the 40th anniversary of the national park and Patrick Watson in 2011 to celebrate Parks Canada’s Centennial.
  • The park acquired two new snow groomers in 2012; its reputation as a cross-country skiing paradise is alive and well!
  • During Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations, La Mauricie National Park welcomed 338,530 visitors.
  • A fire destroyed the La Pêche Shelter during the 2018–2019 winter season. The building, which had been popular with skiers for over 40 years, will be rebuilt in time for the next winter season.

Meanwhile, conservation efforts continue...


Logo 50e anniversaire du Parc national de 
la Mauricie - La Mauricie ntional park 50th anniversary logo
Logo 50e anniversaire du Parc national de 
la Mauricie - La Mauricie ntional park 50th anniversary logo