History and Heritage

A Strategic Territory

Located upstream from the French colony of Montréal, where the Ottawa River—critical to the extremely prosperous fur trade—meets the strategic military route that was the Cataraqui River (later known as the St. Lawrence), the territory of Vaudreuil-Dorion was a pawn in fierce fighting over control of the Ottawa River, the main economic engine of New France.

After the Great Peace of Montréal was signed with the Iroquois Confederacy in 1701, the seigneury of Vaudreuil-Soulanges—the territory now encompassing Vaudreuil-Dorion, Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac, Île-Cadieux, Hudson, Saint-Lazare and Île aux Tourtes—was granted to Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil in 1702. At the time, the seigneury had only 90 families of settlers. Then, on April 2, 1763, Louise-Thérèse Fleury de la Gorgendière, wife of Pierre-François de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, sold it to Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, who built a manor there. Development of the seigneury accelerated around 1765, with more and more trading expeditions westward along the Ottawa River. Many fur traders would stop at the manor, and the seigneury took advantage of its strategic location to build a stable farming economy.

The Beginnings of Vaudreuil and Dorion

The parish of Vaudreuil was constituted in 1845, and the citizens elected their first mayor, Hyacinthe F. Charlebois, at their first meeting on July 14, 1845.

In the 1850s, after the opening of the Grand Trunk Railway, the construction of summer cottages began in Dorion. Soon the region was rushing headlong into the modern era. On December 18, 1854, a law was enacted to abolish feudal duties and rights, sounding the death knell for the seigneurial system. In 1891, the territory of Dorion separated from the parish of Vaudreuil and was granted village status. In 1916, it was incorporated as a city. It was named after Sir Antoine-Aimé Dorion, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Québec, who died the year the municipality was constituted.

The new city of Vaudreuil-Dorion arrived later when Vaudreuil and Dorion merged on March 16, 1994.

Vaudreuil-Dorion

Et si les bâtiments se racontaient : Circuit historique et architectural de Vaudreuil-Dorion
This architectural circuit, accessible via circuitvd.ca, allows users to discover an array of buildings, sectors and figures that greatly influenced the development of Vaudreuil-Dorion in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Both history buffs and newcomers will find something that suits their needs among the numerous texts, images and videos, each more fascinating than the next. 

Produced by the Musée régional de Vaudreuil-Soulanges upon request by the City of Vaudreuil-Dorion, this circuit was made possible thanks to the Entente de développement culturel between the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec and the City of Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Vaudreuil-Dorion today
Vaudreuil-Dorion has a population of 38,021 and covers a territory of more than 73.1 square kilometres. It’s part of the Montérégie administrative region and serves as the administrative centre of the Regional county municipality Vaudreuil-Soulanges, situated along the Ottawa River and Lac des Deux-Montagnes. In addition, Vaudreuil-Dorion is part of the Montréal metropolitan community, whose downtown is less than 30 minutes away.