Beloeil

 Beloeil, Qué, City, pop 18 927 (2006c), 19 053 (2001c), inc 1914. Beloeil is located 32 km east from MONTRÉAL on the west bank of the Rivière RICHELIEU, opposite the city of Mont-Saint-Hilaire.

History

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 the Lemoyne de Longueil family in 1694, 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 in 1878 led to the establishment of an important CIL munitions factory, the production of which played a major role in the World Wars I and II. The increase of population which ensued was partly responsible for the incorporation of the city in 1914. Beloeil became a residential suburb of Montréal following the building of the Trans-Canada Highway in the early 1960s. Its population of about 6000 tripled in the 30 years that followed.

Present Day

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 which stretched out before him while atop Mont St-Hilaire, opposite Beloeil, he supposedly cried out, "Quelle bel oeil!" (What a beautiful eyeful!). Visitors to this area can check this out for themselves by stopping in at the MONT ST-HILAIRE NATURE CONSERVATION CENTRE, the historic Maison Prévert in Beloeil or by going to a play in the GAULT NATURE RESERVE. The historic 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.