Les Rapports Riverains De la Ville: Sherbrooke et Ses Usages Des Rivieres Magog et Saint-Francois, XIXe-XXe Siecles

By Fougeres, Stephane Castonguay et Dany | Urban History Review, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Les Rapports Riverains De la Ville: Sherbrooke et Ses Usages Des Rivieres Magog et Saint-Francois, XIXe-XXe Siecles


Fougeres, Stephane Castonguay et Dany, Urban History Review


Cet article analyse le travail continu de revision et de mise en oeuvre des rapports riverains de la ville de Sherbrooke. Sherbrooke est situe aux confins de la Magog et de la Saint-Francois, qui toutes deux se posent a la fois comme frein et tremplin au developpement de la ville. C'est autour de la presence de ces rivieres dans la ville de Sherbrooke que nous aborderons les rapports riverains. Au rythme des preoccupations sur la presence de l'eau dans la ville, ces rapports riverains se materialisent egalement en fonction de la diversite des usages des rivieres: production d'energie hydraulique et hydro-electrique, construction de mur de soutenement et dragage pour maintenir un debit regulier, deversement d'eaux usees et approvisionnement dieau potable, amenagement recreo-touristique. Sur une periode de pres de 100 ans, soit des debuts de l'industrialisation de la ville aux annees 1970, la materialite propre a chacun des rapports riverains est tour a tour revue et corrigee, et les pratiques qui y sont associees, remplacees. Ce qui reste de toute cette succession, ce sont les rivieres elles-memes et des rapports qui trouvent leur materialite dans les rives et les lits continuellement amenages. En fait, notre recherche nous amene a considerer les rivieres comme des infrastructures qui, tel un service public ou une voie publique locale, devaient continuellement s'adapter a la demande economique, sociale et culturelle changeante, mais qui, inversement, ordonnaient les developpements de la ville, de l'espace urbain et de ses usages.

This paper analyzes the river--city relationships, and their continual redefinitions and revisions, within the City of Sherbrooke. Sherbrooke is located at the confines of the Magog and Saint-Francois rivers, which both constrained and enabled the development of the city. We follow the concerns on the presence of water in the city, and see that these relationships also possess material foundations, especially through the diverse urban uses of the rivers: hydraulic and hydroelectric energy production, dredging and retaining walls to regulate the river flow, outfall of sewage, provision of drinking water, recreational facilities. Over a one hundred year period, from the beginning of the industrialization of Sherbrooke to the 1970s, the materiality of each of these relationships was revised and corrected, and the associated practices were replaced. What is left of this succession of concerns and practices are the rivers themselves and the relationships that are embedded materially in the river bed and the river banks. In fact, our findings led us to consider rivers as urban infrastructures: like a public utility or a local public way, they must continually adapt to the changing economic, social and cultural demands, while, conversely, they direct the development of the city, its urban spaces, and their uses.

Dans un texte maintenant devenu un classique du jeune champ de l'histoire environnementale, Richard White attire notre attention sur le caractere hybride de la Columbia, une riviere sise dans l'Ouest americain qui a integre a travers les siecles les usages des societes, humaines et non-humaines, qui l'avaient habitee (2). De la gente saumonee a la civilisation post-industrielle, en passant par les peuplades amerindiennes, les rives et le lit de la Columbia se sont transformes pour porter l'inscription de donnees naturelles et humaines. La Columbia apparait alors comme une <>: un systeme energetique qui maintient des qualites naturelles en depit de transformations continuelles par l'action humaine. Cette expression temoigne precisement d'une imbrication ou la riviere est le fruit d'une double histoire biogeophysique et sociale. White nous invite alors a rechercher le naturel dans les barrages, et le non-naturel dans la riviere pour mieux vivre nos dilemmes modernes--notamment celui de nous distancer de l'environnement pour mieux l'apprecier et le proteger.

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