The name Drummondville may look out of place on a map surrounded by French names, but the city is named after Sir Gordon Drummond, the Lieutenant Governor of the region in the early 1800s. An hour's drive east of Montreal, the city was created to serve as a base for British soldiers during the American-British War of 1812. Through most of its history, Drummondville was predominantly English-speaking, as were most of the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
The Eastern Townships—L'estrie in French—is the area of Quebec just north of the U.S. states of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. The Eastern Townships’ first sizable numbers of settlers were British loyalists who came here after America's Revolutionary War.
During the 20th century, the demographics shifted considerably, and Drummondville and the surrounding area became predominantly French-speaking. This led to some hybridised place names, in which a patron saint's name was appended to a town's existing English name. For instance, the municipality on the other side of the St. Francis River is Saint-Charles-de-Drummond.
The establishment of a hydroelectric dam on the St. Francis River during the 1930s helped create the town's industrial base and spark its growth. With a current population of 71,000, Drummondville has a vibrant town centre that is both compact and walkable. The Promenades Drummondville is the area's key shopping facility, with 130 retailers, and anchors Sears, Metro, Sports Experts and Zellers. It is adjacent to downtown Drummondville and the river.
About 3 kilometres southeast of the shopping centre, Village Quebecois d'Antan, or Old Quebec Village, is one of Drummondville’s top attractions. The site encompasses 70 authentic buildings from 19th-century Quebec as well as 20 additional reproductions of old buildings. Guides in costume, fiddlers and folk dancers help to bring the past to life. In March and April, the village also runs a maple-sugaring shack with demonstrations and sleigh rides.
Nearby Manoir Trent is an 1838 mansion that blends British and French cultural influences. Home of the Trent family through 1963, it is now a historical museum open during summers. Guided tours are available.
Drummondville's cultural crown jewel is the Maison des Arts Desjardins Drummondville, a performing and visual arts complex that reopened downtown in 2011 following a $22 million renovation. Its programming has a distinctly contemporary flair, offering music, theatre and comedy performances.
For a small city, Drummondville boasts a wealth of outdoor recreation options. During summer, Drummondville visitors flock to Centre Nautique Kounak along the river, where the whole family can enjoy swimming, canoeing and water skiing. Serious cyclists can tackle a portion of the 3,600-kilometre La Route Verte biking trail. The trail winds through some of the most beautiful scenery in Quebec.
The Popular Photography Museum is another of Drummondville’s top attractions. It explores the development of photography as an art form. Visitors to Drummondville should also be sure to see Union Life Art Gallery. This artspace celebrates the works of regional artists who work in a variety of genres and media.