The city's name, which is French for three rivers, is named for the fact that the Saint-Maurice River, which is divided by two small islands at the river's opening, has three mouths at the Saint Lawrence River. Traditionally, Trois-Rivières was referred to in English as Three Rivers, although in more recent decades it has been referred to as Trois-Rivières in both English and French.
The city was the second to be founded in New France (after Quebec City, before Montreal) and – thanks to its strategic location – played an important role in the colony and in the fur trade. The settlement became the seat of a regional government in 1665. Ursuline nuns first arrived at the settlement in 1697, establishing the first school and helping local missionaries to Christianize the local Aboriginals and Métis.
In 1908, the greater part of the city of Trois-Rivières was destroyed by a fire in which the majority of the city's original buildings, many dating back to French colonial years, were destroyed. Only a few were spared, including the Ursuline Monastery and the De Tonnancour Manor. As a result of the destruction, a major redesign and renovation of the city was undertaken, including the widening and renewal of many of the city's roads.
Trois-Rivières hosts the FestiVoix de Trois-Rivières, a 10-day summer music festival which attracts in excess of 300,000 visitors annually. The city also hosts the Festival International de la Poésie – an international poetry festival – as well as the Festival International Danse Encore, and the MetalFest de Trois-Rivières every November. In 2009, Trois-Rivières was designated as the 2009 Cultural Capital of Canada for cities having a population of 125,000 or more.
Trois-Rivières is officially the "Poetry Capital of Quebec" and numerous plaques displaying poetic verses are installed throughout the centre of the city, and its International Festival of Poetry (held each year in the first week of October) honors this title.
Tourisme Trois-Rivières Municipal tourist office (English)
Trois-Rivieres is 115 km ( 1 hr. 16 min.) from Saint-Hyacinthe and 129 km ( 1 hr. 24 min.) from Quebec City.