The Pontiac is in the Outaouais region of the province of Quebec, in Canada. There is a Municipality of Pontiac, which groups the town of Luskville and Quyon, and a Pontiac Regional County Municipality (MRC), which is further up the Ottawa River. This article covers both.
The area is part of the historical Anishinabegs (the Algonquins) territory, which extended all along the Ottawa River, and as far up as Deep River. Archeological excavations, suggest a native occupation of the territory beginning between 4,000 and 2,000 BC. They were at the centre of a vast trade network across Northeast America. Living mainly from fishing, these people lived semi-permanently on certain sites, which includes cemeteries. Around 500 AD, the Pointe-Péninsule groups culture was present in the region. These groups were organized around hunting and they made tools of stone. These groups formed Algonquin bands around 1,000 BCE.
At the arrival of the Europeans, the Algonquins controlled the Ottawa River, which they called the Kitchisippi (meaning great river), one of the most important commercial waterways of North America. However, around 1650, decimated by the war with the Iroquois and by disease, the Algonquins lose commercial control of the river. The Outaouais people (also called Ottawas) became the main intermediaries in the fur trades between the French and other native groups further West.
Around 1670, in turn the Outaouais people lost their role as intermediaries, as the European trappers went further up the river to collect furs. Pontiac, born between 1712 and 1725, was the most famous Outaouais leader He led the Outaouais in the war of the Outaouais Strait, and the rebellion against the English during the War of Conquest. Although his name was given to the municipality, it is unlikely that he travelled through here.
At the end of the 18th century the first Europeans settled on the banks of its headwaters. In 1800, Philemon Wright, an American from the City of Woburn in Massachusetts, moved to the Portages de la Chaudière along with four families related to him. He opened numerous construction sites along various rivers in the region, where he exploited forests of red and white pines. These trees were used for the masts of ships in the British fleet.
Already the site of the Sainte-Marie Mission, the village of Quyon was founded in 1848 by John Egan, a lumber baron of the Ottawa Valley and mayor of Aylmer from 1847 to 1855. It derived its name from the Quyon River, a tributary of the Ottawa River that was used by Egan for log-driving. "Quio" was derived from the Algonquin word kweia (pronounced "quia"), meaning "smaller river" or "sandy bottom river".
Some of the earliest English settlers were Scottish United Empire Loyalists, who were given free land in 1783 by the English Crown to thank them for their loyalty during the American Revolution. The area was heavily settled by Irish immigrants during the mid-19th century after the Great Famine forced many to emigrate for their survival. The town was incorporated on January 1, 1875, and its spelling was changed to "Quyon" to provide a compromise pronunciation equally acceptable to French- and English-speaking residents. It experienced a period of prosperity because of the railway built by the Union Forwarding Company.
Quyon was amalgamated with the neighbouring townships of North Onslow, South Onslow, and Eardley into the municipality of Pontiac in 1975.
If you speak English you will have no trouble getting around. The Pontiac Region is one of the few parts of Quebec with an anglophone majority. Francophone majority communities like Fort-Coulonge and Luskville are very bilingual but many anglophones don't know how to speak French, especially in Shawville, Portage du Fort and Bristol where there has been several conflicts between local shopkeepers and the Office québécois de la langue française over the province's language laws.
Pontiac is 47 km west of Ottawa: take any of the bridges that cross the Ottawa River and head north to Boulevard des Allumettieres (Quebec Highway 148) and head west.
There is a Transcollines bus service which leaves M-F at 15:30 from the Ottawa Central Bus Station for Fort-Coulonge. The bus will stop wherever you need to along route 148. It takes 1hr 10min to get to Luskville (chemin de l'Eglise), and 15min more to get to Quyon (at Trudeau's Collision). $10-13 one way (Dec 2018).
- Air connections are also available in Ottawa (YOW IATA) locally and Montréal (200 km distant) (YUL IATA) with direct connections to intercity passenger rail at Montréal-Dorval airport.
If you wish to stay on paved road, your best route is using the 148 all the way. Some parts have a paved shoulder.
Spanning most of the populated area of the Pontiac MRC, between Quyon and Sheenboro, is the Cycloparc PPJ, an old railway bed turned into a bike path. It is exclusive to bicycles, though some ATVs will clandestinely use it.
This is also designated as route 1 on Quebec's Route Verte. The part off the 148 in Luskville is gravel, however, so it is best to stay on the 148.
An easier but longer route to the Cycloparc PPJ is from Kanata (Ontario). Head north to take the ferry in Fitzroy Harbour.
You will need access to a vehicle to get around the Pontiac, though there are taxi services.
- Shawville Taxi & Courier (in Shawville), ☏ .
- Ben Taxi (in Fort-Coulonge), ☏ .
- Snowmobiling — map of snowmobile trails (no fee for use)
- Dog sleigh
Eat and drinkEdit
- Chez Sylvie Casse Croute, 3000 Highway 148 at Chemin Lebrun, Luskville. Daily 06:00-19:00. Fast food snack bar.
- Patates des 4 As (4 Aces), 1546 Route 148, ☏ . Daily 11:00-19:00. Chip stand - fries, poutine, club sandwiches.
- Café 349, 349 Main St., Shawville, ☏ . M-Th 08:00-16:00, F 08:00-20:00, Sa 08:00-14:00. Salads $10-14, sandwiches and wraps $7-16, pastas and other mains $13-16.
- Esprit Rafting Sunday BBQ