Forges du Saint-Maurice National Historic Site (located 5 minutes from Camping Lac St-Michel)
The Forges Saint-Maurice were built by François Poulin de Francheville, who first received an exploitation license on Mars 25th, 1730. Then the Compagnie des Forges de Saint-Maurice is founded in 1733. The first Master blacksmith is François-Pierre Olivier de Vezain. The Forges are established in a number of buildings on the sides of the Saint-Maurice river.
Specialised workers from the renowned region of Champagne and Bourgogne were brought in to build the industrial complex. These workers and their families become the first inhabitants of the Forges town, where more than 400 people form a somewhat particular community.
Among the main investors in the Company, we find François-Étienne Cugnet who in 1736 establishes a new Company in association with Ignace Gamelin, François-Pierre Olivier de Vezain, Jacques SImonet d’Abergemont, Gilles Hoquart and another French blacksmith, Thomas-Jacques Taschereau. Between 1735 and 1741, the installation and exploitation costs rise to 505 356 pounds, which is four times the sales and production revenues of 114 473 pounds. This lead will lead Cugnet to a personal bankruptcy.
The lack of private funds led to several requests for additional funding to the French government. Cugnet and his associates received an intial investment of 100 000 pounds which was to be reimbursed through production revenues. There were also guaranteed markets for the production, with the King’s naval works in Quebec City as well as those in Rochefort, France. If their predictions turned true, Cognet and his associates would have found themselves with a running business fully financed by State money.
The Forges became the King’s property in 1742. After the British conquest, they became a british property that was rented to private industrials hiring French-Canadian workers. The Forges were officially closed in 1883, and the site remained abandoned for almost a century.
The Ministère des Affaires Culturelles du Québec acquired the site in 1963, which was then transfered to the Federal government in 1973.
Lieu historique national du Canada des Forges-du-Saint-Maurice [archive], sur les lieux patrimoniaux du Canada (consulté le 1er septembre 2010) ameriquefrancaise.org