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Gatineau River Heritage Paddle: A Guide

Horseshoe Bay (see Origin of Name and Claim to Fame below)

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  • Eaton's Chute

    Eaton's Chute

    Paddy Fleming house

    Today we know the river as a pleasant venue for paddling, sailing and swimming. However, before its flooding in 1926 for a major hydroelectric project, it was a treacherous body of water, full of floating logs, undertows and swirling eddies.

     

    Paddy Fleming house

    Until that point, Eaton's Chute was a rough piece of water extending across the river from Cantley to the island on the west shore where the Gatineau River Yacht Club is located today. (Before the flooding, this island home of the club was part of the mainland).Eaton's Chute was a tourist attraction and favoured picnic spot. It was also an oft photographed site by amateur and professionals alike.

  • Gatineau River Yacht Club

    The Gatineau River Yacht Club

    Gatineau River Yacht Club

    After the flooding of the once rapid-filled Gatineau River, it would be another years before a sailing club was formed. In 1962, five landlocked residents in the Gleneagle area gathered around a kitchen table and decided on a plan to form a sailing club. It would become the Gatineau River Yacht Club.

    n the fall of 1963, a special island property came up for sale. It was in Gleneagle, close to the club's moorings. It included two islands connected by a walkway, complete with cottage and two sleeping cabins. A more ideal spot for a sailing club could not be found.

    National Centennial Junior Regatta

    The work to adapt the property for a sailing club use was considerable. The then Gatineau Boom Company donated lumber for a walkway over to the island. Members provided the labour (and often donated the supplies). Trees and bushes were hacked out to clear an approach to the island. The cottage and cabins were converted to suit clubhouse requirements. A lighthouse built by Ed Quipp and Pat Evans (in Ed's basement) was delivered by pontoon barge to serve as the starting point for races. (In 1986 a strong windstorm uprooted about 60 trees on the island and destroyed the lighthouse. A new structure is in place today).

    In a move that would never happen today, the club's website reports "there were a number interesting items jettisoned from the ramparts including a purple piano, a coke cooler and an old oven, all of which, to the best of everyone's knowledge, are still making excellent fish habitat".

    Today the GRYC is a community based club offering a children's summer camp and a sailing program. The Club also runs social events and hosts invitational sailing regattas.

  • Williams' Heritage Cottage

    Williams' Heritage Cottage

    Across from the yacht club is a lovely old cottage from the early 1900s. It was originally owned by Rowland Williams, a lumberman, and his family. He was from Wales in the UK and befitting this, a Welsh inscription carved by Williams himself looks down from a door frame in the living room. Once there was a rose garden and tennis court off the front balcony, now lost to the river.

  • Bushnell cottage

    Cottage of Ernie Bushnell of CJOH (CTV Ottawa)

    Ernie Bushnell cottage

    "Bush", as he was known, was a cottager in Tenaga in the 1950s and 60s (the cottage is still in family hands). At one time his name was synonymous with CJOH TV. In March 1961, CJOH TV began broadcasting. Until then, television owners in the Ottawa area and West Quebec had only two choices - CBC's English or French language service.

    In those early days, all programming was live and originated from the temporary basement studios located next to the D. Kemp Edwards Lumber Yards in Ottawa. The E. L. Bushnell Television Company, headed by former long-time CBC senior executive Ernest L. Bushnell, owned CJOH.

  • Tenaga Bay

    Tenaga Beach

    Tenaga Beach

    The beach is a popular destination in the summer, reserved for residents of the Station Road in Tenaga.

  • Tenaga station

    Former site of Tenaga train station

    Steam train

    The train station at Tenaga was at the base of the road that comes to the river in Tenaga where there are two cottages on the river side of the tracks. It is long gone. This station, and others along the route (all now gone) were well used during the Second World War when gasoline was rationed, being in short supply. A commuter train ran from Wakefield to Ottawa several times a day. These continued to operate for sometime after the war, but eventually the lack of business made the train uneconomical.

    Some of the older cottages located close to both the river and the tracks were built by bringing the construction materials on the train a bit at a time, sometimes by the owners as they visited on weekends. According to nearby Gleneagle cottager Blair Erskine, on occasion the amount of building material transported was rather limited by the accompanying weekend's supply of beer. He notes, "Prorities don't change much over the years do they?"

  • Tenaga cottage community

    A thriving summer social scene and fun on the river

    Tenaga cottage

    Geoff Erskine, Blair's son, remembers going to the Tenaga "Clubhouse" to play tennis on the clay courts and play "Bunco" (a game of dice) every week (Tuesday nights?), a tradition he believes continues today.

    Geoff also recalls when the river was still being logged and Tenaga Beach was as far south as you could go because the logs piled up all the way back from the dam. Many indulged in log rolling and boom walking on the bigger ones.

  • Peter's Point

    Peter's Point

    A hilltop home

    This stretch of land is known locally as Peter's Point. Indeed, when the municipality of Chelsea required all roads to be named about twenty years ago, the landowners along the private road that leads up to Highway 105 chose the name chemin Peter's Point.

    Few are aware of the origin of its name. In fact, it's surprising to learn that "Peter" was a woman, born Alice Mercer. As a young child she was apparently very taken with James Barrie's "Peter Pan". Her passion for the mythical boy was so strong that everyone began to call her Peter, and Peter she remained her entire life.

    home by the river

    Sometime in the 1930s, Peter, by then an adult, and her husband Lionel McGinnis bought the land here and built a charming one story cottage with paned windows and a distinctive English look. After enjoying many years there, Peter died in 1951 and her husband in 1962.

     

     

    Former cottage of Peter

    Around 1998 its owners at the time, Mark Curfoot-Mollington and Ron Price, greeted three strangers who showed up uninvited. One was the granddaughter of the original Peter, who asked if she could bury the ashes of her mother (Peter's daughter) on the property. They located a suitable site and interred the ashes that same day. Except for a few flowering plants, no marker exists.

  • Sandpit

    Sandpit

  • Phillips' Island

    Phillips' Island

    Phillips' Island

    Phillips' Island is named in honour of the late Bob Phillips (1922-2003 - see "Phillips Property"), for his major role in the preservation of Canada's heritage. Phillips Island consists of about 6 acres of beautiful rocky shoreline, valleys and ravines and is home to blue herons, beavers, and artifacts from the logging era. Traces of an ancient cabin have been found on the centre of the island. This could possibly be the remnants of one of three houses reported as being there long ago by the rivermen. Today, there are no human buildings. It is owned by Brigid Phillips and Rodney Janssen.

  • Chelsea Island

    Site of former Gilmours' Mills and Chelsea Island

    Chelsea Island

    In 1847, Gilmour & Co. bought the sawmill operating at Chelsea Falls from J. Blasdell. Here, the waterpower was much superior to that at Farmer's Rapids further down river. However, the Chelsea site was not navigable because the Farmer's Rapids blocked access. With no rail service yet in the region, Gilmour built an elaborate three-mile long water slide to carry his cut boards around the rapids to Ironside (now part of Gatineau).

    In 1872, forest expert James Little wrote of the Gilmour business. Here is a short excerpt: The scenery above and below the mills is exceedingly romantic and beautiful - four or five rapids and cascades, and sloping banks to the water's edge covered in trees and foliage, render this portion of the river most picturesque and charming....The mills ...are surrounded by a series of booms...the whole of the saw logs which descend the Gatineau are caught in these booms. (James Little, The Lumber Trade of the Ottawa Valley (Ottawa: n.p., 1872), 41-43. David Lee, "Logging and Lumbering on the Gatineau River," Up the Gatineau!, vol. 34, 39.)

    White water rapids and waterfalls once raced in the channel between Phillips Island and the west shore. These helped to power the important Gilmour's Mills, which operated on the present site of the Hydro Dam Power House (red brick structure) and on Gilmour's Island. The mills had 2 buildings situated high above the falls which provided 500 horse power. The 13 saw gates, containing about 220 saws, manufactured about 35 million of feet of lumber per season! From here, a flume ran two and a half miles to the piling grounds at Ironside and, there, on the bank of the Gatineau, were docks where the barges could load the air-dried lumber. The company owned 9 farms with 1500 acres to produce enough food for its employees and logging shanties!

    When the mills closed in the 1890s, the island became a cottage development known as Chelsea Island; in 1926, 31 cottages were listed here. With the flooding of the river, mills, cottages and island disappeared. It is now a tranquil place to explore.

  • Chelsea Island

    Site of former Gilmours' Mills and Chelsea Island

    Chelsea Island

    In 1847, Gilmour & Co. bought the sawmill operating at Chelsea Falls from J. Blasdell. Here, the waterpower was much superior to that at Farmer's Rapids further down river. However, the Chelsea site was not navigable because the Farmer's Rapids blocked access. With no rail service yet in the region, Gilmour built an elaborate three-mile long water slide to carry his cut boards around the rapids to Ironside (now part of Gatineau).

    In 1872, forest expert James Little wrote of the Gilmour business. Here is a short excerpt: The scenery above and below the mills is exceedingly romantic and beautiful - four or five rapids and cascades, and sloping banks to the water's edge covered in trees and foliage, render this portion of the river most picturesque and charming....The mills ...are surrounded by a series of booms...the whole of the saw logs which descend the Gatineau are caught in these booms. (James Little, The Lumber Trade of the Ottawa Valley (Ottawa: n.p., 1872), 41-43. David Lee, "Logging and Lumbering on the Gatineau River," Up the Gatineau!, vol. 34, 39.)

    White water rapids and waterfalls once raced in the channel between Phillips Island and the west shore. These helped to power the important Gilmour's Mills, which operated on the present site of the Hydro Dam Power House (red brick structure) and on Gilmour's Island. The mills had 2 buildings situated high above the falls which provided 500 horse power. The 13 saw gates, containing about 220 saws, manufactured about 35 million of feet of lumber per season! From here, a flume ran two and a half miles to the piling grounds at Ironside and, there, on the bank of the Gatineau, were docks where the barges could load the air-dried lumber. The company owned 9 farms with 1500 acres to produce enough food for its employees and logging shanties!

    When the mills closed in the 1890s, the island became a cottage development known as Chelsea Island; in 1926, 31 cottages were listed here. With the flooding of the river, mills, cottages and island disappeared. It is now a tranquil place to explore.

  • Chelsea Dam

    The Chelsea Dam and Logging on the Gatineau River

    Chelsea Dam

    By far the largest industrial enterprise the Gatineau Valley region has ever seen was the hydroelectric project on the Gatineau River between 1925 and 1927. The dam at Farmer's Rapids, and more particularly the one at Chelsea just upriver, have permanently affected the waterway for much of the length of Cantley. Before damming, the Gatineau was a raging, treacherous torrent known for its picturesque falls and many dangerous rapids. Suddenly, it became, for its lower reaches in Cantley, a broad and placid waterway, which would, except for the passage of logs, be ideal for human recreation.

    Elder Homestead

    The log drive on the river itself is almost as old as the settlements which flank it. The movement of logs was an important local industry, employing many tugs and hundreds of men to break the jams in the rapids and unsnag the wayward pieces caught on the shore.

    Every one of the millions of logs used to be branded with the mark of the company owning it. At Gatineau Point, until the 1960s, rivermen on long booms sorted them out according to owners, nudging each individual log into the appropriate channel for its mill. With the decision of Eddy's no longer to use the Gatineau, that process became unnecessary.

    Cantley near River Road

    When the dams were built at Low and Farmer's Rapids a slide more than a mile long was needed to guide every log past the long obstruction. The picture changed with rising labour costs after the Second World War. Serious consideration was given to abandoning the river route in favour of chipping at the logging camps, with the chips being carried by truck or by truck and rail to the mills on the Ottawa River. The sudden escalation of world oil prices changed that idea before it began, and the hasty abandonment of the rail line above Wakefield in the mid-1980s ended forever the prospect of using freight cars.

    Iron hoop

     

     

     

     

  • Hydro Quebec Beach

    Hydro Quebec Beach area

    Just before the Chelsea Dam is a beach. From Cantley's earliest days in the early 19th century, and before electricity came to Cantley (some farms did not get electricity until the 1950's), this part of the river was the easiest access for the horses and their carts to collect ice. Ice blocks were used on farms and in kitchen ice boxes. When coated with sawdust and stored in ice houses, ice could last into the summer.

    The tugboats were kept here during the winter; it was known by the rivermen as the Chelsea Dam Camp. Also here were a forge, blacksmith shop and a garage to repair the boats.

  • Mary Anne Phillips Park

    Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips and "Le Champagne" tugboat

    Tugboat

    Considered Cantley's most beautiful park, with its magnificent view of the Ottawa skyline, across the Gatineau River and Chelsea Dam. It has a superior soccer field above, linked by a stairway to the natural beach below. The tugboat beached here worked on the Gatineau River until logging ceased in 1993. Larger than most, it is historically important. NB - the rake and the propeller are at the bow and stern. This tugboat, Le Champagne, is now owned by the Municipality of Cantley who has plans for its preservation.

    Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips was once a cow pasture for the Raymond and Lola Foley farm until the farm was sold to the Phillips family. In 1996, the park was donated to the Municipality of Cantley in memory of Mary Anne Phillips. Stories say there was a house and farmlands just below Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips which were flooded in 1927.

    The following stretch on the east shore could be called the "Order of Canada Shoreline", since all 5 original property owners have been awarded this, the highest honour of our country. Interestingly, these 5 also built their own original homes/cottages, most nearly 60 years ago, after purchasing the land from the Foley family.

  • Tugboat

    Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips and "Le Champagne" tugboat

    Tugboat

    Considered Cantley's most beautiful park, with its magnificent view of the Ottawa skyline, across the Gatineau River and Chelsea Dam. It has a superior soccer field above, linked by a stairway to the natural beach below. The tugboat beached here worked on the Gatineau River until logging ceased in 1993. Larger than most, it is historically important. NB - the rake and the propeller are at the bow and stern. This tugboat, Le Champagne, is now owned by the Municipality of Cantley who has plans for its preservation.

    Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips was once a cow pasture for the Raymond and Lola Foley farm until the farm was sold to the Phillips family. In 1996, the park was donated to the Municipality of Cantley in memory of Mary Anne Phillips. Stories say there was a house and farmlands just below Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips which were flooded in 1927.

    The following stretch on the east shore could be called the "Order of Canada Shoreline", since all 5 original property owners have been awarded this, the highest honour of our country. Interestingly, these 5 also built their own original homes/cottages, most nearly 60 years ago, after purchasing the land from the Foley family.

  • Robertson and Lawson Cottages

    Robertson and Lawson Cottages

    In 1954 the land on the east shore of Horseshoe Bay was bought from Ray Foley by R. William Lawson (1917-1995) who later became the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada. His wife Katharine Macdonnell Lawson (1924-2009) was the daughter of a member of Parliament and Minister in Diefenbaker's government, J.M. Macdonnell. Katharine was a social worker and member of the Canadian Refugee Status Advisory Committee. Their daughter Anne now owns their property.

    In 1974, Lawson sold part of the property to his brother-in-law Gordon Robertson (Companion of the Order of Canada), who still enjoys summertime on the river. A distinguished expert on the Canadian Constitution, Gordon was Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet. His wife, the late Beatrice (née Lawson, 1917-2001) was a talented artist and musician.

  • Phillips

    Phillips Property

    The late Bob and Mary Anne Phillips were passionate about Canada's Heritage. Bob was founding Executive Director of Heritage Canada, president of GVHS, and a member of the Order of Canada in recognition for his work on heritage conservation in Canada; both Bob and Mary Anne founded Heritage Ottawa. Their property is home for six 19th century log buildings, all once endangered in other locations. The Phillips family transported each building log by log and resurrected them on their Cantley property.

  • La Grange

    La Grange de la Gatineau

    La Grange de la Gatineau

    Most challenging reconstruction, taking four years to complete, was their 1819 2-storey, expansive log barn. Bob and Mary Anne reconstructed it to be their unique retirement home. Today, its historic character and ambience are preserved through a not-for-profit organization called La Grange de la Gatineau, allowing the natural beauty and pioneer history to be enjoyed by its many visitors to concerts, dinners, weddings, meetings and events. Daughter, Brigid Phillips Janssen, is now owner and the creative energy of The Grange.

    Historic tugboat

    The Grange can easily be seen from the river; also, relics of the logging era are a small historic tugboat lying on the Grange shoreline and the booms protecting the Grange beach.

  • Piggery

    "The Piggery"

    The Piggery

    From the river, you can glimpse the tiny "Piggery" cabin which was once attached to the Grange as a pig sty.

  • Grenier

    Robert Grenier/ Caroline Marchand property

    Robert Grenier is a world leader in archaeology and underwater conservation. Among his many other achievements and discoveries, was his most famous - the discovery of North America's oldest heritage wreck off the coast of Labrador. The innovative methods he developed at Red Bay made the site an international model for scientific research. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

  • Tugboat and boom

    Tugboat and boom

    One of the Gatineau River's historic tugboats rests on the shore on the Grenier/Marchand shoreline. This tug, a barge named the Larancina, was used to fuel other tugboats in the fleet until the logging ceased in 1993. Its engine was removed and put into Cantley's tugboat, Le Champagne, at the base of Parc Mary Anne Phillips.

    Also here are some other remains of the logging era of the early 20th century "booms", shaped logs linked by chains, were used to lasso the logs which were then pulled by tugboat down the river.

  • Barkham

    Barkham property

    The Barkham home was designed in 1954 by its owner, an award-winning modernist architect, the late Brian Barkham. His wife, Selma de Lotbinière Huxley, was the first woman to receive the Canadian Royal Geographical Society's gold medal, and the first female honorary consul of Bilbao in 500 years. She received the Basque country's highest award for culture, as well as the Order of Canada for her discoveries revealing previously unknown aspects of Basque and Canadian history, such as 16th century Basque whaling ports (including Red Bay, Labrador), vessels, and the first wills known to have been written in Canada.

  • Hydro Towers

    Hydro Quebec Towers

    Hydro Towers

    These are the oldest high tension power lines in Quebec

  • Fleming Farm

    Site of the former Fleming Farm

    Fleming Farm

    Large modern homes now stand on the summit of the rocky shoreline with its steep cliffs. This was once part of the Fleming family farm. Dominic Fleming was a stonemason, the first of four brothers who came to Cantley from Ireland with their families. He laid the foundations for St Elizabeth's Church and many Cantley homes. John Fleming arrived here in 1839.

  • Patterson Farm

    Site of the former Patterson Farm

    Along both sides of the Gatineau River, and only a few metres above the original water level, were many fertile flats which made excellent farmland for the early settlers. The Patterson Farm, located on the riverbank, southwest of River Road in Cantley was one of many farms flooded in 1927. Pioneer James Patterson was a school teacher and farmer.

  • Flooded Mica mine

    Mica

    Occasionally one can still find small sheets or pieces of mica in Cantley. Cantley was once famous for the quality and quantity of its mica and its many small and large mica mines. The demand for mica to be used for electrical insulators, in stove doors and toasters dwindled but the mines continued to produce mica (largely for use in lubricants) until after the mid 20th century. It is still used for electronic components in aerospace, in metallic auto paint and in make-up. N.B. It has been seen as insulation in the walls of an old Cantley farm house!

    Traces of a mica mine can be found on the shore just north of the Hydro Quebec tower power line path.

    According to local legend, when the river was flooded, the workers at a mica mine, who had routinely hung up their tools and work clothes on a normal Friday afternoon, returned Monday morning to find only a lake where the mine had been; divers are said still to see some of those ghostly remnants.

Tenaga

Origin of Name
At the former Tenaga train station, there was a watering tank for the steam train, leading passengers to say they got off at the "Tank". According to local legend someone wanted to give the stop a more elegant-sounding name, and chose Tenaga, probably derived from the Spanish words tanque, meaning tank, and agua, meaning water. Others believe it is from tanaja, the Spanish word for water jug.

Claim to Fame
Many of those who rented cottages on Chelsea Island relocated to Tenaga, after the island was flooded in 1927.
Almost 20 years ago, Tenaga became home to the award-winning Les Fougères restaurant, established in what was a former gas bar/residence.

Chelsea

Origin of Name
Chelsea's name is believed to have originated from one of two men; either Thomas Brigham or Thomas Brigham Prentiss, his nephew, who both hailed from Chelsea, Vermont.

Claim to Fame
Previously the home of the Gilmours' Mills on the Chelsea Island, where extensive sawmill activities were carried out from the early 1800s. When the sawmill ceased operations, it became a cottage playground, until the Chelsea power plant and dam was built in that spot in 1926-27.

Cantley

Origin of Name
There is more than one theory about the origin of the name Cantley, and all are difficult to prove definitively. The common belief is that it originated from Colonel Cantley, a British army officer reported to have fought in the War of 1812. He remained in the colony until Colonel By called upon him to help build the Rideau Canal in 1826. As reward he was given a land grant in Cantley, arriving in the early 1830s.

Claim to Fame
Cantley's hills were rich in mica. Cantley's mica was considered the best in North America. The Blackburn Mine was the largest of many mica mines in Cantley; its payroll reached 60 during World War II.