Since 1988, the tiny village of Rivière Éternité in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, north of Quebec City, has held an annual international exhibition of Christmas crèches. From mid-November to mid-January, this exhibition displays artistic works and collective projects of three different kinds.

First, the community hall of the parish church houses more than 230 crèches created by artists and artisans from some 50 countries. Then outside, on the fronts of houses, crèches created by the village’s inhabitants are displayed. Since night falls rapidly, these are lit up from four o’clock in the afternoon. Finally, in front of the Tourist Housing Centre, a few crèches carved from snow by local residents are set up. Last year, some 10,000 visitors came to admire 365 different crèches on display.

Each year, the Corporation, chaired by Mrs. Eugénie Bouchard, exchanges crèches with other countries, particularly with France. In 1994, for example, the town of Trévarez in Brittany was honoured. This year, it is the turn of Arles in Provence to display its crèches and its santons. In exchange, Arles will display pieces from Rivière Éternité during its Salon Read More
Since 1988, the tiny village of Rivière Éternité in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, north of Quebec City, has held an annual international exhibition of Christmas crèches. From mid-November to mid-January, this exhibition displays artistic works and collective projects of three different kinds.

First, the community hall of the parish church houses more than 230 crèches created by artists and artisans from some 50 countries. Then outside, on the fronts of houses, crèches created by the village’s inhabitants are displayed. Since night falls rapidly, these are lit up from four o’clock in the afternoon. Finally, in front of the Tourist Housing Centre, a few crèches carved from snow by local residents are set up. Last year, some 10,000 visitors came to admire 365 different crèches on display.

Each year, the Corporation, chaired by Mrs. Eugénie Bouchard, exchanges crèches with other countries, particularly with France. In 1994, for example, the town of Trévarez in Brittany was honoured. This year, it is the turn of Arles in Provence to display its crèches and its santons. In exchange, Arles will display pieces from Rivière Éternité during its Salon international des santonniers (international santonniers salon).

Commonly called the "Modern Bethlehem", Rivière Éternité inaugurated a Nativity scene in the fall of 1995 carved in the mountain located in the heart of the village. The work is that of the sculptor Serge Claveau of Chicoutimi.

© 1995, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Various interpretations of the Nativity

The townsfolk in Rivière Éternité set up illuminated crèches on their property portraying various interpretations of the Nativity.

Photograph : Eugénie Bouchard, Rivière-Éternité, Québec, Canada, 1994
Collection: Corporation des Crèches de Noël de Rivière-Éternité, Québec, Canada
c. 1994
© 1995, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


More than 230 crèches from some fifty countries are exhibited

More than 230 crèches from some fifty countries are exhibited in the parish hall of the church in Rivière Éternité from mid-November to mid- January.

Photograph : Eugénie Bouchard, Rivière-Éternité, Québec, Canada, 1994
Collection : Corporation des Crèches de Noël de Rivière-Éternité, Québec, Canada
c. 1994
© 1995, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


nativity scene set in the middle of an enormous fireplace

This crèche, which is erected in front of the tourist housing centre, depicts a nativity scene set in the middle of an enormous fireplace.

Photo : Eugénie Bouchard, Rivière-Éternité, Québec, Canada, 1994
Collection : Corporation des Crèches de Noël de Rivière-Éternité, Québec, Canada

© 1995, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The "Camper’s Christmas", which began in 1962 at the initiative of the proprietors of the Domaine de Rouville, located at Saint Jean Baptiste de Rouville in the Montérégie region, south of Montreal, is now widespread in Quebec. This enormous 35-year old campground and trailer park welcomes around 1,700 families who mostly live on the site during the summer season.

The objective of the Camper’s Christmas, which is held in the middle of the summer (around July 24), is to give families who live mainly in urban areas a chance to entertain friends and relations and celebrate a second Christmas. Some 15,000 to 16,000 people gather together here to participate in this extraordinary event. To give the celebration a more "authentic" character, campers decorate their trailers, cabins and plots of land with Christmas trees, strings of multicoloured lights and other appropriate decorations.

During the week before the parade, the campers busily work in teams to design and construct decorative allegorical floats. Teams vie with one another in ingenuity, originality and humour to produce the most beautiful float and to win the prize in the Read More
The "Camper’s Christmas", which began in 1962 at the initiative of the proprietors of the Domaine de Rouville, located at Saint Jean Baptiste de Rouville in the Montérégie region, south of Montreal, is now widespread in Quebec. This enormous 35-year old campground and trailer park welcomes around 1,700 families who mostly live on the site during the summer season.

The objective of the Camper’s Christmas, which is held in the middle of the summer (around July 24), is to give families who live mainly in urban areas a chance to entertain friends and relations and celebrate a second Christmas. Some 15,000 to 16,000 people gather together here to participate in this extraordinary event. To give the celebration a more "authentic" character, campers decorate their trailers, cabins and plots of land with Christmas trees, strings of multicoloured lights and other appropriate decorations.

During the week before the parade, the campers busily work in teams to design and construct decorative allegorical floats. Teams vie with one another in ingenuity, originality and humour to produce the most beautiful float and to win the prize in the float contest.

The Camper’s Christmas begins on Saturday morning with preparations for the Santa Claus parade, which takes place in the afternoon. The parade involves about 15 allegorical floats in addition to clowns, mascots, sprites, majorettes, and of course, Santa Claus and the Snow Queen. After the parade, each family invites guests for a family supper (evening meal).

© 1995, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • identify how people, events, and ideas of the past shape the present;
  • describe some Christmas traditions in Quebec, with examples;
  • compare Christmas traditions between cultures.

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