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Sorel-Tracy (/ /; French: [sɔʁɛl tʁaˈsi]) is a city in southwestern Quebec, Canada and the geographical end point of the Champlain Valley. It is located at the confluence of the Richelieu River and the St. Lawrence River, on the western edge of Lac Saint-Pierre, downstream and northeast of Montreal. The population as of the Canada 2011 Census was 34,600. Its mayor is Serge Péloquin and it is the seat of the Pierre-De Saurel Regional County Municipality and the judicial district of Richelieu.
Aerial view of Sorel-Tracy
Location within Pierre-De Saurel RCM.
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Constituted||March 15, 2000|
|• Mayor||Serge Péloquin|
|• Federal riding||Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel|
|• Prov. riding||Richelieu|
|• Land||57.46 km2 (22.19 sq mi)|
|• Metro||233.78 km2 (90.26 sq mi)|
|• Density||604.9/km2 (1,567/sq mi)|
|• Metro density||204.3/km2 (529/sq mi)|
|• Pop 2011–2016||0.3%|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Area code(s)||450 and 579|
The city is the result of a voluntary amalgamation in 2001 between two cities, Sorel and Tracy, which developed on opposite shores of the Richelieu River: Tracy on the west shore (left) and Sorel on the east (right) shore. In 1992 Sorel had annexed the municipality of Saint-Pierre-de-Sorel; today it forms the southern part of its territory.
Sorel was founded in 1642. Tracy was founded on February 10, 1954, but prior to that, it was a parish municipality known as Saint-Joseph de Sorel. (This is not to be confused with the town of Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel, an independent municipality north of Tracy).
Sorel-Tracy is known for manufacturing related to the steel industry and metallurgy. It has a ferry linking the city to the village of Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola. Its shipyard built units of three frigates for the Canadian forces, and two ships in the late 1960s.
Early exploration in this area by the French was a catalyst for armed conflict with various indigenous peoples. The French also learned about existing rivalries among these nations and sought to build its own alliances with First Nations. The Battle of Sorel occurred on June 19, 1610: Samuel de Champlain had some French regulars or local militia, as well as First Nations allies, the Wyandot (also known as Huron by the French), Algonquin and Innu peoples. Together they held off the powerful Mohawk people in New France.
Sorel is the fourth-oldest city in the province of Quebec. Its formation began in 1642 when Charles Huault de Montmagny, first Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of New France, built Fort Richelieu here as a defense for settlers and river travellers against the Iroquois, primarily the Mohawk, the powerful easternmost nation in the Confederacy based south of the Great Lakes.
The name Sorel comes from the first seigneur of the area, Pierre de Saurel. He was in command of a regiment of the Carignan-Salières that landed in New France in August 1665. He was granted a seigneury by King Louis XIV in 1672, after having already built a manor house four years prior. The parish of Tracy was named for Lieutenant General Alexander de Prouville, Sieur de Tracy, who was overall in command of the Carignan-Salières Regiment directly under the Governor.
Sorel claims to have had the first Christmas tree in North America, put up on Christmas Eve 1781. After Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester visited Sorel in 1787, the town took the name of William-Henry, a name it retained until 1845.
It is probable that before the American Revolution, there were no English-speaking, Protestant people in Sorel, as it had been settled by French-speaking colonists and their descendants, who were primarily Catholic. Although a hamlet or small village, it was the scene of much activity during the war and after.
During 1776 large bodies of troops passed through and at times were stationed in the area. For example, the English quartered in Sorel the German auxiliaries they hired after they reached Quebec. Governor Frederick Haldimand wrote a letter to Lord George Germain in October 1778, from his camp in Sorel where fortifications were in progress, proposing his use of the Seigneurie,
It is my intention therefore, if time and circumstances favour me, to make Sorel a place of strength with Permanent Works, as the importance of it deserves. The Seigneurie of this Place is vested in merchants residing in England and the Inhabitants of it, people remarkable for their courage and resolution, have distinguished themselves very much by their attachment to the Government even at a time the Rebels were Masters of that Country, in which account I think it would serve the King's interest to bestow some Public mark of favour upon them such as remitting them the Quitrents which they pay for their land, to the Seigneur, and the Seigneurie being to be sold, and the purchase would not exceed 13,000, having been offered for that sum, I submit to Your Lordship whether it would not be best to give orders to treat immediately with the Proprietors, Messrs. Greenwood and Higgins in London, both for enabling me to effect the purchase...
The Crown purchased the land in 1781, at the end of the war, and Sorel became a clearing house for the steady stream of Loyalist refugees from the south. A number settled in Sorel, forming the nucleus of the English-speaking population. Also, the Crown selected Sorel as one of the stations for "Military Invalids", or “Outside Chelsea Pensioners", as they were also called. Several hundred older veterans and their dependents were sent to Sorel under the medical care of Dr. Christopher Carter. There facilities had to be built for them.
The earliest British efforts for the propagation of the Protestant religion in Lower Canada started in Sorel. With the continued influx of Loyalists during 1783 into the Seigniory (as the English spell it), the settlement sought a permanent Protestant minister. That year they sent a petition to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, of the Anglican Church, begging them to send a Minister of the Gospel to reside in the Seigniory.
The Reverend John Doty was assigned to the post, embarking during the month of April 1784 at Gravesend, England, and arriving at Quebec in June. He reached Sorel on 4 July 1784, where he celebrated Divine Service (or communion) and preached his first sermon. This is the date of the foundation of the Anglican parish in Sorel and the first Anglican mission in Canada.
They used as the chapel a wooden building located at the end of King Street, a few steps from the Richelieu market. This building had earlier served as a military storehouse. In 1819, the town's parsonage was declared dangerously unfit.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Sorel was a center of fur traders, who had been established in Quebec and among the indigenous peoples from the earliest years of the colony. The character of the town changed over the next few decades as more permanent settlers arrived.
In the 1820s, Sorel was the site of the governor's house for the Governor General of Lower Canada, then George Ramsay, the Lord Dalhousie. (He is the namesake of Dalhousie University.) Ramsay quickly purchased land in the area to be developed for agriculture. Due to his presence, the small town became a centre for the turbulent politics of that time, in the period leading up to the Lower Canada Rebellion.
Locally, the colonial governor and parish priest Jean-Baptiste Kelly competed for power and influence among the different ethnic groups. Kelly oversaw a number of improvements and changes during his years in the town. The "dangerous" parsonage was rebuilt by 1832 (using stone from the original). The town changed its name back to Sorel from William-Henry in 1845, reflecting its demographics and predominately French Catholic population.
Kelly helped improve the parish library, which contained four hundred volumes by 1846. In 1848 the community erected a monument to temperance. They established a society for the care of the poor and sick, and for the education of girls. Kelly retired in 1849, after the completion of a new clergy house. The older one was adapted for use as a college. In the long term, the town continued to be settled primarily by French Canadians, rather than developing any sizable Anglo-Canadian population.
In 1839 two residents were defendants in a murder trial. An American George Holmes, who lived in Sorel, was linked to Joséphine d’Estimauville, a married woman who had been staying with her mother in Sorel after leaving her abusive husband. The pair were arrested after Holmes became a suspect for killing her husband Louis-Pascal-Achille Taché (21 June 1813-31 January 1839), seigneur of Kamouraska since 1833. This seigneury was located in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region of eastern Quebec. Holmes fled to the United States, escaped extradition, and disappeared. D’Estimauville was tried for complicity in the death of her husband, but acquitted.
The shipyards in Sorel were long important to its economy. In the late 20th century, the city was the site of construction of three of 12 Halifax-class frigates of the Canadian Forces. The three Canadian patrol frigates built in Quebec were HMCS Ville de Québec, HMCS Regina and HMCS Calgary. The shipyard in Sorel-Tracy was called M.I.L. Tracy. It built units for all three vessels and sent them by barge for final assembly at M.I.L. Davie in Lauzon, Quebec.
Previous to the construction of the Halifax-class frigates, MIL (Marine Industries Ltd, operated by the Simard family of Sorel, constructed HMCS Nipigon, which was commissioned there in 1964. MIL was also the site of construction of HMCS Bras d'Or, an experimental hydrofoil commissioned by the Royal Canadian Navy. The construction of both these ships was overseen by Cmdr. Donald Clark CD RCN.
The Tracy Squadron at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean was named in honour of Sorel-Tracy.
French Canadians make up more than 97% of the city's population. Less than 2% of the population is foreign-born or second generation immigrants. Anglo-Canadians make up less than 1% of Sorel-Tracy's inhabitants.
(+) Amalgamated with Tracy on March 15, 2000.
Mother tongue language (2006)
Sorel-Tracy is within 75 kilometres (47 mi) of both Montreal and Trois-Rivières, and is easily accessible via Autoroute 30 from the west and via Route 132 from the east and west. Autoroute 30 stops at Sorel and picks up again at Bécancour, leaving an incomplete segment in between.
A year-round ferry operates on the St. Lawrence River between Sorel-Tracy and Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola on the way to Berthierville.
Notable people from Sorel-TracyEdit
- Professional ice hockey goaltender Marc-André Fleury, currently playing for the Vegas Golden Knights in the National Hockey League. The Pittsburgh Penguins in the National Hockey League drafted him 1st overall in 2003 and with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2009, 2016, and 2017. He would then get drafted to the Vegas Golden Knights, leading them to the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals.
- Retired professional hockey defenseman François Beauchemin who last played for the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL, and who won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
- Professional hockey left winger Anthony Beauvillier who currently plays for the New York Islanders in the NHL, who drafted him 28th overall in 2015.
The city is home to the historic Colisée Cardin, an ice hockey arena built in 1954. The Sorel Éperviers played there from 1969–77 and 1980–81. They advanced to the league final in 1974, losing the President's Cup (QMJHL) to the Quebec Remparts. Since the foundation of the LNAH (formerly QSPHL) in 1996, Sorel-Tracy has hosted a team for all but two seasons, 2008–2010. The team was known variously as Dinosaures, Mission, Royaux, GCI and HC Caverna before taking the name Sorel-Tracy Éperviers in 2012.
|Climate data for Sorel-Tracy|
|Record high °C (°F)||12.8
|Average high °C (°F)||−6.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−11.2
|Average low °C (°F)||−16.2
|Record low °C (°F)||−41.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||74.3
|Source: Environment Canada|
- Reference number 360770 of the Commission de toponymie du Québec (in French)
- Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l'Occupation du territoire: Sorel-Tracy
- Parliament of Canada Federal Riding History: BAS-RICHELIEU--NICOLET--BÉCANCOUR (Quebec)
- Sorel-Tracy, Ville (Census subdivision), Quebec and Pierre-De Saurel, Municipalité régionale de comté (Census division), Quebec
- 2011 Statistics Canada Census Profile: Sorel-Tracy, Quebec
- 2016 Statistics Canada Census Profile: Sorel-Tracy (Census agglomeration), Quebec. The census agglomeration consists of Sorel-Tracy, Contrecoeur, Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel, Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel, Sainte-Victoire-de-Sorel. In the 2006 census, the census agglomeration had also included Saint-Ours.
- Territorial Division Act. Revised Statutes of Quebec D-11.
- Fischer, David Hackett (2008). Champlain's Dream. Random House of Canada. pp. 577–578. ISBN 978-0-307-39767-6.
- "Collections Canada". champlain2004.org. Archived from the original on June 15, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Image-Image. HistoricPlaces.ca; retrieved July 12, 2013.
- Cyr, Céline (2003). ESTIMAUVILLE, JOSÉPHINE-ÉLÉONORE. Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
- Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 census
- 2006 Statistics Canada Community Profile: Sorel-Tracy, Quebec Retrieved April 30, 2018.
- "Artists in Canada". Canadian Heritage. Government of Canada. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- Marc-André Fleury National Hockey League. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
- François Beauchemin National Hockey League. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
- Anthony Beauvillier National Hockey League. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
- Environment Canada Canadian Climate Normals 1971–2000 Government of Canada. Retrieved April 30, 2018.