Gatineau River Heritage Paddle: A Guide

Kirk's Ferry (see Origin of Name and Claim to Fame below)

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  • Bates Machine Shed

    Former machine shed of the Bates Farm

    Bates barn

    This is marked by a marshy area with a mound of about 20 feet of stone rubble emerging from the weeds. A part of an old metal bed frame marks the spot. The chunks of cement are the remnants of the original machine shed, probably belonging to Billy Bates. Horse shoes have also been found in this area.

  • Bates farmhouse

    Bates farmhouse

  • Bates Farmland

    Bates Farmland

    Further south on the west shore, is part of the former Bates farmland (where a greystained house sits). Further up the hill, but not visible, are some of the original outbuildings. The actual site of the Bates homestead is underwater, in the middle of the bay. Only the foundation remains, the consequence of the 1926 flooding of the river.

  • Larrimac Golf Club

    Larrimac Golf Club

    Larrimac Golf club

    In 1923, a young Larry McCooey first set up a crudely marked course of only a few holes on a portion of rented farmland. The following summer, with some other nearby cottagers, the notion of a community golf course gelled. The first club house was an expropriated cottage, which was moved to club property around 1926 from lower ground, which was needed for the relocation of the rail line.

    or many years, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd holes of the course had a broad view of the river below. Now the hills are covered with large trees and the course is no longer visible from the water. In the 1930s and 1940s the Gatineau River was the site of many regattas for the youth of the club, with prizes for diving, swimming and canoeing.

  • Diving Tower

    Diving Tower

    Diving Tower

    The Green's Diving Tower, 1935.

  • Pearson Island

    Site of former Pearson and Smith Islands

    Bonniview Castle

    Before the flooding of the river by the Gatineau Power Company, there were two large islands in the middle of the river. On the west side was Pearson Island with Smith Island on the east. Both islands are now underwater. In 1906, Sydney Lee bought the western island and constructed a castle like cottage with turrets and battlements, reminiscent of his homeland in Scotland. The cottage was called Bonniview Castle. In 1913, it was sold to its last owner, Bill Pearson. In 1925, the island was expropriated and the cottage demolished. Little is known about Smith Island.

  • Smith Island

    Site of former Smith Island

    Before the flooding of the river by the Gatineau Power Company, there were two large islands in the middle of the river. On the west side was Pearson Island with Smith Island on the east. Both islands are now underwater.

  • Phosphate mine

    Site of a former phosphate mine

    The phosphate deposit in this mine was last worked about 1890. It was the largest phosphate mine in West Hull (now re-named Chelsea). It was oval-shaped, running north-northeast about 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. It was about 35 feet deep, and some 300 tons of high grade ore was taken out.

  • Sherrin Cottage

    A 1920s period cottage - Sherrin Cottage

    Sherrin cottage

    This is a period cottage built around 1922 by Philip and Eta Sherrin. Phil was a founder of the Larrimac Golf Club in 1924. He was a hydraulic engineer brought over from Britain to help build a pipeline to bring fresh water to Ottawa from 31 Mile Lake, north of here (this never happened). In those early days, Eta hosted Saturday afternoon teas at the clubhouse, and embroidered the numbers on the flags marking the golf course tees. After the flooding of the river, the cottage became waterfront, and was so close to the river that Phil used to fish off the verandah for his breakfast. Note the tree stumps still sticking out of the river near the cottage.

  • Selwyn Point

    Selwyn Point

    Selwyn Point

    In 1902, Percy and Gertrude Selwyn bought this property. In 2007 a new home was built at the north end, replacing an 1880s cottage. Until the flooding of the river in 1926-27, this area was landlocked, surrounded by acres of horticulture - perennial plants, flowering hedges and shrubs, fruit trees and raspberry and strawberry plants, lovingly established by Percy. A 50-foot-high wind-generated tower brought water from the river for the gardens and cottage. Percy and his son Harley were beekeepers and kept up to 100 colonies of honeybees on the property. The concrete foundation of the demolished bee house is still underwater. The rocky point at the north bears a steel tie up, a leftover from log booms and tugboats.

    Aerial photo of Selwyn Point Selwyn Point Selwyn 'centre' cottage

    Moving south along this peninsula is a dark green bungalow cottage. It was brought over the frozen river by horse from Cantley sometime in the late 1920s. The last home on this stretch of land is a white with green trim house. It is a former cottage that was winterized in the 1980s. Before the original cottage was built, the summer occupants tented on this land, with bedroom, dining and kitchen tents.

    Former Crawford cottage
  • Thomas Kirk's ferry operation

    Site of former Thomas Kirk's ferry operation (bottom of Hellard Road)

    Brown/Journeaux/Nielsen Point

    Thomas Kirk was originally from Ireland. He was a local entrepreneur who owned property on both sides of the river. He was the first to establish a ferry service, then mostly used by those on the east shore who came over for supplies and services at the populous village of Kirk's Ferry.

    At first the ferry was propelled by oars but later it became a scow ferry worked by a cable. Kirk was quite a business man. There was a Kirk's Tavern nearby that was much used by shanty men and was a stopping place for the stage. Following the Kirks, Paddy Fleming, assisted by Jack O'Connell operated a ferry in this general location. Christie Fleming was the last ferryman, as after the flooding of the once dangerous Gatineau River, it was slow flowing with a gentle current. This eliminated the need for a ferry.

    Brown/Journeaux/Nielsen Point

    On the hill above this area, but hidden by trees, are two heritage cottages built in the early 1900s by Brown and Journeaux families, and still enjoyed by their descendants.

  • Horse stable of Charlie Reid

    Charlie Reid's former horse stable

    Horse stable of Charlie Reid

    After the flooding of the river, this bay became a popular swimming spot. Previously it was fertile farmland, belonging to a long-time farmer, Charlie Reid. The concrete walls with its unframed windows are the remnants of a former horse stable once owned by Charlie. This is a visible reminder of the farming history of this area.

  • Kirk's Ferry Bay

    Kirk's Ferry Bay

    After the flooding of the river, this bay became a popular swimming spot. Previously it was fertile farmland, belonging to a long-time farmer, Charlie Reid.

  • Ferry Master's Residence

    Former Ferry Master's House

    Paddy Fleming house

    As one leaves Kirk's Ferry Bay and paddles around a large peninsula (east of the rail line and accessed by Kirk's Ferry Road), one sees a modern two story structure with pale brown siding. The current owner believes this is the rebuilt former home of Paddy Fleming. Paddy was a ferryman for Thomas Kirk's ferry operation. Kirk's ferry actually crossed the river further north, at the bottom of Hellard Road.

    In later years Paddy Fleming took over the operation of the ferry, cutting wood in the winter on the Cantley side for his livelihood. It is believed that this is the third site of the home. The current owners were told that when the river was to be flooded in 1926, the house was moved up the river to Cascades for a few years and used as a dance hall. It was then moved back down to its present location. Both trips were made by horse and sleigh on the frozen river.

    Renovation of Ferry Master's Residence

    In 2006, a major renovation was undertaken of the deteriorating structure by current owners David Maitland and Donna Troop. As part of the original evergreencoloured clapboard was peeled away from the home's exterior, a drawing of a trapeze artist appeared. Then into view came a sword swallower and the eye of an elephant. In fact, beneath the clapboard was a circus billboard for "Sparks World Famous Circus" that had been used as a layer of sheathing. The circus had toured the U.S. and Canada a century ago, and became infamous for the very elephant appearing on the billboard sheathing. The elephant, which came to be known as Murderous Mary, killed her handler in a fit of rage.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Garneau cottage

    Marc Garneau family cottage

    Garneau, now a member of Parliament, is also a retired military officer and former astronaut and engineer who was the first Canadian in outer space, taking part in three flights aboard NASA Space shuttles.

  • Blackburn Creek

    Blackburn Creek

    Paddling Blackburn Creek

    Blackburn Creek was very significant in Cantley's early life. It was used as a resting place and campground by aboriginal travellers and fur traders. Most important to Cantley's establishment were the mills and the mines. Although their sites are not visible from the river, it is worth mentioning them as you paddle by the mouth of Blackburn Creek - the hub of Cantley's early days!

    Blackburn Creek shore





  • Little island with foot bridge

    Little island with foot bridge

    Paddling Blackburn Creek

    As you paddle south from the Yacht Club, you'll pass by a tiny island, which may still have a small foot bridge linking it to the mainland. Residents say the old rail line used to pass through this area, before the flooding of the river.

  • Mill site

    Site of the former Blackburn Creek Sawmill and Gristmill (not visible)

    Cantley's earliest sawmill and gristmill were located near where the creek goes under chemin Mont Cascades. They were hydro powered by damming the creek. For many years, there was even a log drive on the creek. There were stopping places along the creek where travellers could water their horses, and perhaps themselves. One was called Boone's Watering Hole. The sawmill was really crucial to pioneers, allowing them to make the transition from round log or hand hewn (using broad axe) cabins to larger, plank style homes. The sawmill was first owned/operated by John Blackburn (son of Andrew, one of the first pioneers in Cantley), then by the McNeill's (later Fleming property).

  • Blackburn Mine

    Site of the former Blackburn Mine (not visible)

    The Blackburn Mine was the largest mica mine in Cantley but there were many other smaller mines. The Blackburn Mine employed more than 20 men on two shifts a day, and the payroll reached 60 during World War II. Cantley was said to have the best mica in North America.

  • Malak Karsh cottage

    Malak's former cottage

    Malak Karsh (1915-2001)was a famous landscape photographer. In 1963, he took a picture of the floating logs on the Ottawa River, called Paper and Politics, which was put on the back of the 1969-1979 series Canadian $1 bill.

    He was one of the founders of the Canadian Tulip Festival and its honorary president at the time of his death. In 1996, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2005, the city of Ottawa established the Karsh Prize, honoring Ottawa photo-based artists, in honor of Malak and his brother, Yousuf Karsh.

  • Rue de l'Ancre

    Rue de l'Ancre

    It runs along the river, near Blackburn Creek. This street is named after a large anchor that was used to hold the logging booms. Legend has it that it disappeared when the booms were removed from the river and, in spite of searches, it was never found.

  • Flooded Ferry terminus and tavern

    Site of Paddy Fleming Ferry and Tavern

    Paddling Blackburn Creek

    The ferry terminal was at Cantley's new Parc du Traversier, on rue de l'Ancre - river access is by the old road. This was site of the first ferry scow on the lower Gatineau River in the 1850's. Thomas Kirk got land on both sides of the river at one of the few places where the waters were calm enough to have a ferry service. At first, the ferry was propelled by oars, but later Kirk used a cable. In later years, the ferry was operated by Paddy Fleming. Paddy ran the ferry in the summer and in winter cut wood in the Cantley. He built himself a house, which was eventually moved to the bank of the river on a point near the old terminal. Later, another ferryman was Christie Fleming, who farmed and operated the ferry until the flooding of the river in 1927. Census records of 1861 indicate there was a tavern at this site too.

    The ferry was an important aspect of early life in Cantley. It transported east side Cantley residents, their mail, goods and horse teams (later cars) over to the settlement of Kirks Ferry. Here, they could access west side churches, the Kirk's Ferry train station, roads, and other services. The ferry scow transported west side residents over to the blacksmith and mills on Blackburn Creek in Cantley. Other ferry terminals are marked on the map.

    In winter, people walked to the other side of the river on the ice bridges which spanned the river at various locations. Some could even walk from rock to rock to the other side of the river in summer - many did this to attend church on Sundays.

  • MacDonald Cottage

    George and Joanne MacDonald Cottage

    Paddling Blackburn Creek

    The original owners and builders of the log cottage and its three 'sleep camps' were Brigadier Gen- eral D.M. Ormond and his wife, Ann, who purchased the land from the Gatineau Power Company in 1938. Local lore states he employed inmates to construct many of the stone walls on the property. The "sleep camps" were three cabins shared by the Ormond's daughters.

    The Ormonds sold in 1960 to another family who then sold it to the MacDonalds in 1983. The lower portion of a replica of a Northwest coast totem pole sits on the front deck of the cottage and reflects their interest in First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast on which they have published.

    George received the Order of Canada in 2006 in recognition of his role in the creation of the Canadian Museum of Civilization when he was its Director from 1983 to 1998.

  • Anchor 'mauvais chien'

    La Pointe du Mauvais Chien

    Often, the tugboat motors would not be strong enough to haul their loads of thousands of cords of wood along the river, particularly if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. The rivermen would hook a steel cable on to an anchor attached to shore and then winch the cable to help pull the wood. They nicknamed this spot "the bad dog" because, at this spot, where they routinely attached their anchor to shore, they were afraid of a large ferocious dog who always stood guard and barked at them from the top of the hill.


Origin of Name
In 1932, the name of this area was changed from Lacharity to Larrimac Links (and later to simply Larrimac). Larrimac was a contraction of Larry McCooey's name, and recognized his contribution as a founder of the Larrimac Golf Club.

Claim to Fame
Home of the Larrimac Golf Club, a golf and tennis club established in 1923.

Kirk's Ferry

Origin of Name
Named after Thomas Kirk, a businessman who was the first of several persons who operated a ferry across the river.

Claim to Fame
This was a thriving community prior to the flooding of the river. There were hotels, stores, a church which also served as a school, and a ferry service from the east shore. Many cottages sprang up along the original banks of the river.


Origin of Name
This area was originally called Summerlea. At some point prior to the mid 1930s, its name was changed to Gleneagle. A road off the Gleneagle Road leading to the walkway of the island home of the Gatineau River Yacht Club is still named Summerlea.

Why was the name changed? One long-time resident was told the following story, which has not been verified. The CPR was setting out the various stations for the relocation of the rail line in the mid 1920s. However, the name Summerlea was already in use so a new name was needed. Jason Cross, who lived in the still standing large old farmhouse along the highway, was planning to build a small nine hole golf course. The chosen name of the course was to be Gleneagle, like the one in Scotland. The CPR liked this name and the area became known as Gleneagle.

Claim to Fame
Home of the Gatineau River Yacht Club, a popular sailing club established in 1962.