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Valley Lives - Joe Payette

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the November 03, 2004 issue. Reprinted with permission.

'Longest bar in the Gatineau' owner dies

by Bob Mellor

The Gatineau Hills lost a legendary figure with the passing on Oct. 23 of Joe Payette of Kazabazua, at the age of 95.

For 37 years, from 1957 to 1994, Joe had been the genial host and proprietor of the Kazabazua Inn, more properly known wide and far as "The Longest Bar in the Gatineau".

Valley Lives
The Longest Bar in the Gatineau" was legendary in its day, attracting celebreties from many miles away. It also sold local species of fish (and the tall tales that went with them) which proved a popular draw. File photo.

He had a particular soft spot for the hunters and fishermen who made his premises a "must" stop on their travels up the 105 to their camps. Those even included the occasional movie star, including Franchot Tone, a king of the silver screen in the 50's and 60's who came to the Gatineau regularly.

"Dad could sit and talk to anybody on any subject", recalls his daughter, Diane Picard, who worked with her father for many years. "But he wouldn't talk politics or religion. He used to say that was the only way you could be friends with everybody."

Joe built the "longest bar" shortly after taking over the establishment and one of the features of the "longest bar" was that it included a fish tank filled with local species, which Joe would sell.

"Sunday night was a big night for selling fish" recalls Picard. "They didn't want to go home emptyhanded. Heck, some of them hadn't even been fishing, but we don't want to talk about that."

There are stories galore about the longest bar. One well-known Ottawa celebrity confided that he and a pal had set out to have a beer on every stool in the longest bar. "We didn't make it".

Joe closed down the bar in 1994, and it sat vacant until 1996 when it was sold and became a Chinese restaurant. It sat vacant again for several years and then was being refurbished by new owners as a bar. It burned down on the eve of its reopening, July 5, 2002. Many speculated the new owners had biker gang connections, and local rumour has it the fire was set by a rival gang.

Joe and his wife Simone, who predeceased him, had six children, 14 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and two greatgreat grandchildren.

Joe was buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Kaz Oct. 27.


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