150 Years of History in the Hills
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 09, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.
This is the sixteenth 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.
Life on the Gatineau River
Before its damming in the mid- 1920s for a major hydro-electric project, the Gatineau River was a dangerous body of water for the foolish or unwary. Although there were pleasant stretches of sandy beaches and tranquil waters, inexperienced swimmers and boaters risked injury or death in this once fast-flowing river.
Bertha Wilson Holt recalled the early days: "We all learned to swim at an early age in this treacherous river. We knew of the dangers and always respected the river for what it was. The logs floating downstream added to our enjoyment. Log-rolling until we were flung into the water, swimming to sandbars, and timidly looking into black swirling waters where eddies had eaten away the sand and there was a sheer drop into the bottomless river - these sights put fear into us."
"Crossing the river to pick raspberries on the mountainside was a yearly expedition. And it was done not without risk. The perilous current on the far side, floating logs, undertows, and swirling eddies had to be taken into account before attempting to cross. Boats had been known to be swept over the falls below the crossing. This happened to strangers who did not know the river."
From Volume 1 of 'Up the Gatineau!' by Mrs. C.R. Holt (Bertha Wilson).
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