Beloeil | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Beloeil, Quebec, incorporated as a in city 1914, population 22,458 (2016 census), 20,783 (2011 census). Beloeil is located 32 km east from Montreal on the west bank of the Rivière Richelieu, opposite the city of Mont-Saint-Hilaire. Beloeil, which loosely translated means “beautiful eye,” was probably given to the place by Jean-Baptiste Hertel in 1693. Upon looking out at the panoramic view from atop Mont St-Hilaire, he supposedly cried out, "Qu'elle est belle à oeil!" (What a beautiful eyeful!).


Beloeil was first opened to settlement in the first quarter of the 18th century. By 1754, all the available land had been granted. A thriving agricultural community grew up around the seigneury of Beloeil, which had been granted to Joseph Hertel in 1694 (who sold it to Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil in 1711), and the parish of Saint-Mathieu, which had been created in 1772. The parish municipality of Saint-Mathieu-de-Beloeil, set up in 1855, included the village of Beloeil, which formed a separate municipality in 1903.

The building of a powder-magazine (gunpowder storage facility) in 1878 led to the establishment of an important Canadian Industries Limited munitions factory, the production of which played a major role in the First and Second World Wars. The increase of population which ensued was partly responsible for the incorporation of the city in 1914. Beloeil became a residential suburb of Montreal following the building of the Trans-Canada Highway in the early 1960s. Its population of about 6,000 tripled in the 30 years that followed.

Cultural Life

Residents and visitors alike enjoy the Gault Nature Reserve and the historic Maison Prévert. La Maison de la culture Villebon (built in 1844) and the Cultural Centre are the city’s cultural venues. Théâtre des Hirondelles is a well-known summer playhouse in neighbouring Saint-Mathieu-de-Beloeil.