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Highlighted here are some local heroes as well as people of national renown who have been attracted to and, in some cases, helped shape the history and development of the Gatineau region.

Nicolas Gatineau

Captain Gatineau, of the French militia, may not be mentioned in the Canadian history books, but this river, named after him flows on. Was he, like the river, fascinating, turbulent, noisy, cool, deep, calm and treacherous?

When I first became familiar with the Gatineau area, I wondered where the name came from. Captain Nicolas Gatineau du Duplessis arrived in Quebec from France before 1650. He reportedly was a clerk of the 100 Associates and a notary and clerk of the court at Three Rivers and Montreal. The valley, county and city were named after him.

Nicolas Gatineau and his sons established a thriving fur-trading business and their trading travels took them by canoe from the St. Maurice River, along the Ottawa, and across the upper reaches of the Gatineau River.

The river More of the river The spectacular and forbidding Gatineau River, namesake of Nicolas Gatineau

Thomson The spectacular and forbidding Gatineau River, namesake of Nicolas Gatineau
Richard R. Thompson

Private Thompson performed enormous feats of gallantry in the Boer War, and was the only Canadian ever to win the Queen's Scarf of honour.

The scarf, personally crocheted by Queen Victoria is displayed in the National War Museum in Ottawa. Among the many possible awards for military distinction, it is one of the world's rarest: there are only eight Queen's Scarves.

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Mackenzie King

The difference between bounty and disaster was, as is customary in history, partly the result of accident. The happenstance was the visit to Kingsmere in 1900 of an unlikely young civil servant named William Lyon Mackenzie King.

He first saw Kingsmere on Thanksgiving Day, when he and his inseparable friend, Albert Harper, cycled from the city and had their lunch on King Mountain. That expedition was to affect King's life profoundly, and to lead eventually to the creation by his government of the Gatineau Park.

It was in the Gatineau Park that King created his home and his image. Here he would be the lord of the manor, but of a manor which he had created, not, as in the case of Laurier House, in the shadow of another. As early as 1926 King was writing in his diary: It will make a wonderful park to give to the nation some day, a true memorial. It was a promise that he kept magnificently.

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Mackenzie King Mackenzie King and Pat c. 1940

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