About 12,000 years ago, much of the area on either side of the Gatineau River was a part of the great Champlain Sea. In due time, the waters receded and the topography as we know it took form— considered as part of the oldest mountain range on earth.
In comparison to the size of the North American continent, the Gatineau area is modest. However, it is, in effect, a microcosm in that it has spawned or nurtured a great variety of enterprises— mining, timbering, production of pulpwood, railway building, water transportation, bridge building, hydroelectric power, farming, tourism, sports ventures of different kinds, as well as homes and cottages.
The Algonquins were here first, but the river we now call the Gatineau remained nameless until the 1780s, when it was briefly called the River Lettince. It was only in the early decades of the 19th century that it received the name Gatineau, honouring an influential Quebec fur-trading family (who were based in Trois-Rivières). Philemon Wright came from Massachusetts with a group of settlers in 1800, and Colonel By and colleagues began to leave their mark in the 1820s.
Nestled in the Canadian (Precambrian) Shield, the Gatineau Valley is one of the naturally most beautiful regions on the face of the earth. It has attracted multitudes of people as settlers, landowners or caual visitors and, located at the back door of Canada’s capital, it will likely continue to do so. With the passing of time, enterprises, and people, it has generated much history, both of local and national significance.