Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A River of Many Stories

The Ottawa River has a long history and there are many story boards in Gatineau that recount its history. As you can see from the photo, the river has a much different use today.

I will transpose two out of the many stories that are located along the Voyageur Pathway in Gatineau.

Loggers and Drivers
The Ottawa Valley has known many heroes and legendary figures who have helped to characterize and define Canadian culture and identity.

At the height of the Canadian logging industry, the Ottawa river and its tributaries became prime locations for loggers and log drivers. Among these men several stand out.

Joseph Montferrand (1802 - 1864) known in English folklore as "Big Joe Mufferaw". A physically huge and imposing man, Joe Montferrand amazed his fellow loggers and was a prominent figure in the logging camps of the Ottawa Valley. His great strength, ingenuity and courage made him an exceptional logger and log driver. He was also daring enough to drive the famous log rafts over the turbulent waters of the Ottawa River and its tributaries.

Coureurs de Bois
For centuries the Ottawa River was used as an access route for the voyageurs and explorers en route to the mythical west.

In the 17th century some of the boldest Europeans discovered new places and encountered the aboriginal peoples who lived there.

Etienne Brule
Born in France in the late 16th century, Etienne Brule was the original coureur de bois. He arrived in Canada with Samuel de Champlain, who sent him into Huronia to establish contacts with the Aboriginal peoples. The Ottawa River became his primary route. Brule successfully accomplished his mission; he made friends with the huron, learning their language and adopting their way of life.

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