The Pontiac possesses an exceptionally diverse natural, cultural and built heritage which displays Pontiac history before our very eyes.
From Route 148 or the bicycle path, we can see the region’s natural expanses flow gracefully down from the Canadian Shield to the banks of the Ottawa River. For centuries this was the major business and transportation centre in the Ottawa Valley. It was also the route by which the first voyageurs discovered Canada’s interior.
The Pontiac still shows many signes of this magnificient era. The best examples are Fort William (Sheenboro) and the mansion built in 1848. The general store and other buildings have been preserved. The province of Québec has declared this site a historic monument.
Over these mountains and valleys, the cultural landscape – fashioned by man – presents itself to us. Agricultural land, dams, mines, all testify to our community’s use of natural resources. Pontiac's first colonists came for its natural bounty. The Clarendon area was the first surveyed for agriculture.
The Pontiac was known mainly for its exceptional quality timber. Throughout the 19th century, the forest echoed with the sound of construction. "Pièce-sur-pièce" log houses bear witness to the gradual organization of the entire territory. Logging produced significant profits for operators. The George Bryson house (Mansfield) and those of his children (Fort-Coulonge) are striking examples of the influence the timber barons had over the area.
Economic diversification (agriculture, logging, timber driving and milling) demanded a large workforce, so Pontiac went from a network of logging camps and rudimentary trading posts to established villages, the heart of economic and religious activity. Workers came from Poland, Germany, Scotland, France and ireland. Each of these cultures became part of Pontiac heritage and especially of its religious architecture. There are at least 60 churches of 11 different denominations.
Transportation gradually developed to encourage economic relations between Gatineau and Pembroke. The steamboat was the first transportation to reach Portage-du-Fort. Very quickly, a small town filled with depots, hotels, and restaurants to welcome the growing number of visitors. In the 1880s, the train replaced the steamboat. Cities along the Pontiac Pacific Junction experienced unprecedented growth. During this time, neo-Queen Ann architecture graced Shawville streets.
The Pontiac MRC is ensuring the promotion of this rich heritage. Our cultural department recently completed the first phase of the Pontiac built-heritage inventory. Based on the data, restoration-assistance, heritage-protection, improvement and heritage-education projects will be conducted in cooperation with the relevant homeowners whose help will be very valuable. The MRC is thereby recognizing and promoting the Pontiac heritage, our community's roots.
If you have your own heritage-education projects or you would like to show us documents (photos, plans, etc.) that could help us to improve our knowledge, please contact Émilie Chazelas, 819-648-5689 ext 134 - firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information :
Explore the region
Assistance program to renovate historic homes
Application form – Renovation Assistance Program