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150 Years of History in the Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 26, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

This is the fifteenth in a continuing series of photo essays celebrating our Gatineau Valley history and heritage during Canada's sesquicentennial year. The series was created by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (GVHS) in collaboration with The Low Down to Hull and Back News. All images are courtesy of the GVHS.

'Summering' at the cottage on the Gatineau

150 Years of History in the Hills
On the steps of the Stuart/Bate cottage at Rockhurst Hill in Wakefield, 1912, with Mrs. Malone's boarding house seen in the distance. Courtesy Elizabeth Bate via Norma Geggie.

The construction of the rail line to Maniwaki in the late 19th century opened up the Gatineau to Ottawans, who escaped the hot and humid summers in the city to modest (and not so modest) cottages, usually found close to water. Most were built along the banks of the Gatineau River, or near the shores of the many lakes that dot the region. This was known as 'summering' up the Gatineau.

In early days, there was no electricity or running water, and only simple outhouses. Many of the riverfront cottages were razed or relocated when the Gatineau River was flooded in 1926 to 1928 for the hydroelectric dams. Cottage country still thrives in the northern reaches of the Gatineau Valley, but many cottages in the Chelsea and Wakefield areas have been converted to year-round residences.


 
150 Years of History in the Hills
The McKinley-Crannell House on Kingsmere Road in Chelsea, 1910. Built by Levi Crannell of Ottawa in 1900 as a summer residence, there was a lawn tennis court in front and a vegetable garden and apple orchard in back. In the early days, the horses, cows, and chickens were moved to the country for the summer from Ottawa. Photo courtesy Janeth McKinley.
150 Years of History in the Hills
This was the castle-like cottage on the island once found on the Gatineau River at Kirk's Ferry, circa 1914. The island first belonged to Sydney Lee, who built the cottage, but it was generally known as Pearson Island, after the last owner. The island was expropriated for the flooding of the Gatineau River in 1926 and disappeared when the water levels rose. Photo courtesy Dr. J.D. Allen.

 
150 Years of History in the Hills
The McDiarmid cottage in 1915, as seen from the river, on Ramsay Road in Chelsea. Built in 1895, the turreted cottage is now painted white and red and is a familiar landmark in Ramsay Bay, having escaped the flooding of the Gatineau River in 1927. Photo courtesy of Eleanor Meirer.
150 Years of History in the Hills
A 1920s postcard: 'A few of the Summer Cottages at North Wakefield, Que', now known as Alcove. The Alcove school appears to the right.

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