The Chemin du Roy (literally, the king’s road) was completed in 1737. Now people could travel from Québec to Montréal by horse. Construction lasted six years. The habitants opened the road themselves, each one working on the section of road in front of his land. They had to cut down the trees, pull the stumps, remove the rocks, level the road and dig the ditches. When a bridge needed to be built, everyone in the parish worked on it together. Some rivers like the Saint-Maurice, Assomption and the Des Prairies Rivers were too wide to build a bridge. In these places, people had to take a ferry to get across.

In building the Chemin du Roy, the government created a relay system between the major towns. Travelers would stop at inns to eat, sleep or change horses along the way. Thanks to the “king’s road”, the trip from Québec to Montréal now only took two and a half days. To travellers, it seemed that the colony was one long, continuous village.

The Chemin du Roy was very useful for people and the mail. For heavy goods, however, the St. Lawrence River – the road that walks – was still the best option. Today, Route 138 roughly follows the Chemin du Roy.

Author: Léon Robichaud

See also – Traces of the past:

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