Gatineau Valley North: Settled for Forests and Fortunes
The GVHS wishes to thank the individuals who assisted in the preparation of this exhibition: Caroline Hogan, Norm Ramsay and Sophie Dazé from Library and Archives Canada; Luc Brazeau from les Archives Nationales du Quebec, Outaouais; GVHS members Duncan Marshall and Bruce Ballantyne; caption writer Tamara Tarasoff; and translators Robert et Denise Carrière of Communications St-Germain.
This exhibition is dedicated to the many GVHS volunteers, past and present, upon whose vision, research, and documentation this presentation is based on.
Marc Cockburn (Curator)
President, Gatineau Valley Historical Society
While we may think of the forests of the Gatineau Hills as beautiful places, it was their value as wood that brought people to settle the region. In the early and mid-1800s, when more accessible lands along the Ottawa River were already taken, adventurous souls ventured up the Gatineau River to seek their fortunes. They established farms, logged the forests, and sent their lumber downriver. As these four maps show, the townships of Low, Denholm, Hincks and Aylwin were surveyed and settled by 1910.
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Gatineau River Timber Limits (ca. 1890)From the time that Philemon Wright floated the first logs down the Gatineau River in the 1830s, logging shaped the life and landscape of the Gatineau Valley. In the following decades, businessmen set up logging camps and men came to the region to earn a wage cutting timber. Families established farms, and towns developed to serve the logging camps. The seasonal cycle of logging was especially visible each spring when the logs that were cut in winter filled the Gatineau River for their journey to the sawmills on the Ottawa River. The last log drive down the Gatineau River took place in 1991, and now it is trucks filled with logs or woodchips that are evidence of the region's logging tradition.
Gatineau River Timber Limits (ca. 1890)
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Panorama of Logs on the Gatineau at Cascades (ca. 1930)
River Drivers (no date)
Raftmen's Pointer on the Gatineau (1922)
Cutting Corn in Kazabazua (1924)
Kazabazua (ca. 1905)
The Hull-Maniwaki Railroad: Moving People and ThingsWhile the Gatineau River had long been the main transportation route for lumber and people, it was no longer adequate as Canada moved into the rail era. In 1871, the Ottawa and Gatineau Valley Railroad Company was incorporated to build a railway "from or near the village of Hull to a point at or near the confluence of the Desert and Gatineau Rivers" (Maniwaki). Progress was slow, and the Hull-Wakefield section was finally completed in 1891. In the following years, the railway reached Low (1892), Kazabazua (1893), Gracefield (1894), Blue Sea Lake (1903), and finally Maniwaki (1904).
As was typical of railroads of the era, the name and ownership of the railroad changed a few times. In 1894, it was incorporated as the Ottawa & Gatineau Railway Company, and in 1901, amalgamated with the Pontiac Pacific Junction Railway to become the Ottawa Northern & Western. In 1902, the ON & W was leased to Canadian Pacific Railway for 99 years, and was officially absorbed by the CPR in 1953.
Passenger service ran from 1892 to 1963, and freight service continued until 1968. The railroad opened the region up to tourism, and made it easy for people residing in Ottawa and Hull to vacation in the Gatineau Hills. For many small communities in the region, which were isolated until the road to Maniwaki was completed in the 1950s, the railroad was a lifeline.
Gatineau Valley Railway Stations
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Loading Pulp at Station, Kazabazua (1924)
Loading Pulp at Station, Kazabazua (1924)
The Paugan Dam: Changing the Landscape
Until 1926, the Paugan Falls were known for their beauty and for the challenge they posed to log drivers during the spring log drive. Canadian International Paper saw the potential for generating hydroelectric power. In 1926, CIP created Gatineau Power Company and began to construct hydroelectric plants on three sites on the lower Gatineau: a 35-meter drop at Paugan Falls; a 30-meter drop at Chelsea Falls; and an 18-meter drop at Farmer's Rapids. This massive project resulted in work for thousands of labourers, the flooding of thousands of acres of land as far north as Lac Ste Marie, and the relocation of many farms and houses. The dam led to changes to the spring log drive too, and logs now had to be driven through a small chute and then towed downriver by tugboat.
Proposed Hydro-Electric Development On The Gatineau River At Paugan Falls.
Nearly 50 farms and a portion of the village of Lac Ste Marie would be flooded by the project. This map shows the extent of the flooding that was predicted to occur as a result of the building of the dam.
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Paugan Falls (no date)
View of Construction Camp and Train Trestle (1927)
Construction Camp and Village
Scene from Paugan Dam (1980)
Aerial Photographs of the Paugan Dam and LowThese 1927 and 1928 aerial photographs of the Paugan Dam were taken by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) from aircraft flying out of Station Rockcliffe in Ottawa. They are part of a collection of 542 aerial photographs of the lower Gatineau River Valley taken between 1925 and 1939 and currently held in the National Air Photo Library of Canada. The matching contemporary aerial photographs were taken by Marshall Maruska Aerial Images of Chelsea Québec.
For additional information on the history of the Paugan Dam and the other dams on the lower Gatineau River as well as the early aerial photography of the region see:
The Gatineau Valley Historical Society, Jacques Lecours "The Great Hydro - Electric Works on the Gatineau River", Up the Gatineau!, Vol. 21, 35-44.
2. The Gatineau Valley Historical Society, Duncan Marshall, "Early Aerial Photography of the Gatineau River Valley", Up the Gatineau!,Vol. 27, 33-40.
Then and Now views of the community of Low and the Paugan Dam taken August 11, 1928 and May 30, 2000.