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Cradled between hills and rivers

History of the Municipality of Pontiac


Introduction

Located on the north shore of the Ottawa River, the territory of the Municipality of Pontiac extends from the western limits of the City of Gatineau (Aylmer sector) to the eastern border of the Municipality of Bristol.  It covers a total area of 448.31 km², and had a population of 5,681 inhabitants in 2011.

The Municipality of Pontiac was actually created in 1975 through the merging of the Onslow and Eardley Townships which include the towns of Eardley (1855) Quyon (1875), South Onslow (1876) and North Onshow (1878).  These townships also included hamlets (not incorporated), namely Breckenridge, Heyworth, Beechgrove, Mohr Corners, Muldoon, Onslow Corners, Wyman (formerly Billerica) and Steele.  The name Pontiac probably originates from the County of Pontiac (designated in 1853) or from one of the first economic activity centres and colonization that developed in the nineteenth century, the Pontiac village (sometimes referred to as Pontiacville), located at the west end of the Onslow Township.

However, human occupation of the territory existed long before the townships, villages and hamlets, which actually dates back to thousands of years.

 


Pontiacville (or the village of Pontiac), 1855 by William Augustus Austin (1829–1896). In the foreground, we can see the construction site and the slide from Ruggles Wright to Pontiac Bay.  Source: National Library and Archives, 1983-46-7.


 


The Ann Sisson boat in front of Pontiac Village in 1869 during the Royal visit of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaugh. Source : National Library and Archives.


Native occupation

The area known today as the Municipality of Pontiac 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, notably at l’île-aux-Allumettes and in the Quyon and Luskville areas and as far as Fitzroy Harbour, suggest a native occupation of the territory dating back 6,000 years.

Archeologists refer to the first inhabitants of the Pontiac territory under the Archaic Laurentian name.  They occupied several sites along the Ottawa River between 4,000 and 2,000 BC. and were at the centre of a vast trade network across Northeast America.  Living mainly from fishing, these natives lived semi-permanently on certain sites, which includes cemeteries.  Around 500 AD, the Pointe-Péninsule groups culture was present in the Outaouais.  These groups were organized around hunting and they fabricated tools made of stone.  According to archeologists and the relics that were found, the evolution of these groups lead to the formation of Algonquin bands around 1,000 AD[1].  In their tongue, the Algonquins call themselves the Anishinabeg, which means “human being” and more specifically “real men”.  The name Algonquin (or Algonmequin) was given to them by Samuel de Champlain[2].

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.  They served as intermediaries between different economic areas and controlled the trade[3]. Accounts given by the first explorers and European travellers confirm that, at the beginning of the 19th century, native groups were settled close to the Chats Falls (Quyon area).  They were present there until at least the 1820s[4].

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), who belonged to the same linguistic family that lived North of Lake Huron, became the main intermediaries in the fur trades between the French and other native groups further West[5]. According to The Jesuits Relationship in 1667: “The Outaouais people claimed that the river belonged to them and that no nation shall navigate these waters without their consent”.  This appropriation can be found on maps as early as 1680 (Bernou), that is when the Great Algonquin River became the Ottawa River[6].

Around 1670, in turn the Outaouais people lose their role as intermediaries, as the European trappers go up the river to collect furs.  Despite their short-lived role, their name is given to the river, to the region and even to the future capital of Canada (Ottawa).  The same applies to their most famous leader, Pontiac, born between 1712 and 1725 who was assassinated on April 20th 1769.  As his name was given to the Municipality, and to the constituency to which it belongs, it is unlikely that he travelled through here. A famous leader in the war of the Outaouais Strait, he was at the head of the rebellion towards the English during the War of Conquest[7].



Canoes of the Hudson Bay Company at the Chats rapids, byPhilip John Bainbrigge. Source : National Library and Archives, 1983-47-18.


European exploration and occupation of the territory

The adventurer and interpreter Étienne Brûlé is the first European to have travelled the remote stretches of the Ottawa River.  However, the first to have written down his impressions of the territory is explorer Samuel de Champlain.  In 1613, Champlain makes a first voyage on the Ottawa River which leads him to l’Île-aux-Allumettes.

Following Champlain, other voyagers will travel the Ottawa River and report their impressions in writing.  Among them can be mentioned Claude Allouez, Jesuit (1656), the explorer and fur trader Nicolas Perror (1670), the Chevalier de Troyes (1686), the grand voyer Jean-Eustache Lanouillier de Boisclerc (1734), fur traders Henry Alexander (1761) Alexander MacKenzie (1789), Daniel-William Harmon (1800) and Nicholas Garry (1821), as well as the geologist William Logan (1845) and the voyager John G. Bigsby (1850).

At the end of the 17th Century, a few trading posts such as the one in Fort-Coulonge, Lac aux Allumettes, Dumoine River, Rapides-des-Joachims and Mattawa mark the Ottawa River all the way to Fort Témiscamingue.  However, it’s not until the end of the 18th Century that a first settler attempts settling on the banks of its headwaters.  In 1786, Joseph Mondion and his wife Marguerite Charlebois settled in the area known today as Indian Point.  Together, they built a wooden house for themselves and their young children.  They kept a few animals, cultivated the soil and sold their products to travellers.  Yet, in 1799 Mondion is heavily indebted and decides to leave the farm with his family.  In 1800 his property is taken over by the XY Company.  Later, it belonged to the North-West Company in 1804, and then to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1821, at the time of the merger of the two companies.  They operated a small trading post, which closed in 1837.

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.  Over the course of the following years, he opened numerous construction sites along various rivers in the region, where he exploited forests of red and white pines.  Very sought after, these trees were used to fabricate the masts of ships in the British fleet.  In the Onslow Township, newly opened to settlers, Wright is granted 12,000 acres of land in the first six concessions, and in 1814 he establishes a construction site in Pontiac Bay (South-East of Quyon).  Thanks to the construction of a horse-drawn wooden railroad crossing and the opening of a channel in the rock, this area soon became a village (sometimes identified on the maps under the names Wright shanties, Pontiac village and even Pontiacville).

Several combined families, who arrived in the region after Wright, were granted land in the Onslow and Eardley Townships, that were developed in 1805 and 1806 respectively.  Philemon Wright would end his days in the Onslow Township, where he died in 1839.  Looking through his archives, we can ascertain that he was very attentive to his properties in Onslow, just as much to those consisting of logging activities than those focused on farming.

 


Official plan of the Township of Onslow, County of Pontiac, August 29th par JP Mullarkey (Departement of Crown Lands Québec).

Through him, his nephew Joseph Wyman Jr. also arriving from Woburn around 1835, settled on lots 3 and 4 in the 4th Concession at the west end of the Onslow Township.  Quickly, other related families (the Edeys) join in the adventure in this isolated location.  The cleared land and the newly built wooden houses form a hamlet (from either side of 4th Concession) that Wyman called Woburn.  The area then beared the name of Billerica, which was then changed at the beginning of the 20th Century to Wyman (the name Wyman was however only accepted by the Quebec Geography Commission in 1956)[8].  Around 1840, slightly more to the east, still in the Township of Onslow, John Christian Mohr, a Swedish immigrant, obtained several acres of land in the area known today as Beechgrove.  Quickly, a small and prosperous farming community was developed and a mill was even built there.  In 1846, the house of J. C. Mohr was built and is probably the oldest stone building still existing in the Municipality of Pontiac[9].  An island in the Ottawa River, near Beechgrove, bears the Mohr family name where a “boom” would be operated over several decades in the 20th Century.

In the 1820s and 1830s, the Wright settlements in Pontiac Bay expanded and several facilities such as sawmills and timber slides were established.  A small village developed which is sometimes identified on maps under the name of Wright shanties, Pontiac Village (Village Pontiac) and even Pontiacville.  In 1840 John Egan, first Member of Parliament for Pontiac, established a sawmill that was possibly one of the most important of this nature along the Outaouais.  A few years later, in 1846 he built a second sawmill on the Quyon River, in the heart of the village of the same name, exactly in the location where the Dowd Mill currently sits, on Egan Street, which was acquired by the Municipality of Pontiac a few years ago[10]Several families settled near this establishment and the small village of Quyon took shape.

The creation of the Eardley Township goes back to 1806, only one year after the Onslow Township.  Closer to the City of Hull, one might think that a new village core would be formed quicker.  But never would there be a village of the commercial and demographic importance of Quyon.  The effect of being between two centres of activity (Aylmer-Pontiac) seems to have had the effect that the settlers would arrive much later in the Eardley Township.  A first road is outlined in 1817 and the Irish and French-Canadian people slowly settled in the Township, especially on the sites located at the end of the Rideau Canal.

The Merriefield family was probably the first to colonize Eardley, followed by Daniel Sinclir in 1831 and Joseph Lusk and his wife Ester Balmer (Irish Protestants) in 1832.  The village of Eardley (Luskville) was built and officially became a municipal corporation in 1855.  As a matter of fact, Luskville is the area where the greatest number of French Canadians set down their roots[11].  Not long after its incorporation, a dozen Catholic families who lived there asked His Eminence Mgr Guiges the permission to build a chapel.  It was built next to the old cemetery on Village Road in Luskville and was blessed in 1862.  The construction of the Saint-Dominic Church began in 1884, and the rocks that were used to build it came from the Eardley escarpment.  The Saint-Dominic Parish in Luskville however was established in 1896[12].

Onslow, established as a Municipality since 1855, saw its population rapidly increase.  In 1875, Quyon separated from Onslow and became a distinct village.  The following year, Onslow was divided in two (from the 7th Concession) by creating South Onslow (1876), and North Onslow (1878).


The beginnings of political life

The first municipal Council meeting in the Township of Onslow was held on July 25, 1855 in the Quyon village school.  The first Council consisted of Councillors Adam Lindsay, William Lough, Maurice O’Reilly, Robert Wilson, Jason Murdock, Benjamin Mohr and John Behan (Mayor).  At this meeting, Council ascribed the responsibility of road maintenance to various citizens.

The first meeting of the new South Onslow Council on February 28, 1878 was held at the “Town Hall” in the village of Quyon.  The Council members were Hugh Mulligan (Mayor), Charles Cone, Thomas Moor, Joseph Wyman, William Craig, Ephraim Mohr and Edward O’Reilly.

The Council of South Onslow held their first meetings in a small office built in 1855 (serving also as a school) situated near O’Donnell Corners.  A new building was constructed in 1962 which was used until the establishment of the Municipality of Pontiac in 1975.

The building that is currently used as the Town Hall in the Municipality of Pontiac was constructed in 1877 and early on, welcomed the Eardley Municipal Council meetings.  This is one of the oldest Town Halls in the area that is still in use to this day.  It was saved from demolition in the 1960s, thanks to the intervention of the Lusk family.


Brief history of the Quyon, South Onslow, North Onslow and Eardly municipalities

From 1860 to 1901, although moderately, the population in Quyon and South Onslow municipalities continued to increase.  To the 480 inhabitants in Quyon, 200 others joined them in 1860.  The same is true for South Onslow which went from 720 to 980 people.  North Onslow, the most populated municipality in 1860, counted 744 inhabitants whereas there were 972 in 1881, it experienced a decline already apparent in 1901, counting 820 people.  The quality of the land not always being the greatest, may be the reason for this depopulation, which is still visible today.

Nevertheless, the various areas of the future Municipality of Pontiac experienced an unprecedented development, mostly thanks to the arrival of the railway (Pontiac Pacific Railway) allowing farmers and breeders to transport their products to the city quickly (and cheaply).  The shortage of farmland in the Fitzroy and Torbolton Townships in Ontario, and its availability in Pontiac, would lead many families to naturally cross over to the other side of the River to settle there.  Looking at the names in these Townships (street and road names, etc.), several names are just as familiar on this side of the Ottawa River.  Consequently, in the beginning of the 1890s, all farmland in Quyon and Onslow will have been distributed [13].

In Onslow and Quyon during the 1900s to 1910, there were three churches, 13 stores, three hotels, a sawmill, a feed mill, a belt business, a door business, a printer and offices of a local newspaper (probably the Quyon Advance published between 1870 and 1913)[14].  At that time, in North Onslow there were 3 churches, two general stores, a hotel and a sawmill.  Billerica (Wyman) has two churches and a post office.  Beechgrove, Luskville an Breckenridge also have a post office.

Like the G.B. Greene, several boats were built in Quyon.  Commissioned in 1896, destroyed by fire in 1916 and rebuilt in 1917, this boat that had long served for tourism on the river still sparks the imagination of the town. Its days would end at the Ottawa Improvement Co. “boom”.  This company, specializing in towing logs on the river, employed several hundred men from the Municipality and would close at the end of the 1940s, early 1950s.

The Steele hamlet experienced an unprecedented development, following the discovery of a molybdenite deposit in 1915 by Archie MacLean, Ab Payne and Everett Steele (who was later Mayor of North Onslow from 1962-69).  This discovery was timely, since the molybdenum (moss) was used to harden steele in the manufacturing of firearms.  As such, during the First World War, North Onslow became the largest producer of molybdenum in the world.  The mine, located on the 7th Concession was nevertheless called the Quyon Moss Mine).  During its best years, it provided employment for 120 people and, during the Second World War, it employed 60.  It, however, shut down in 1944.  The opening of a mine in Bristol (Hilton Mines) in 1956 created new jobs for 300 men, many of which were from Quyon and Onslow.

In 1946, the Municipality of Quyon is finally free of a debt which it had to consolidate in 1931.  It incurred this debt by building sidewalks in 1931 and through two loans taken in 1931.  In the 1930s and 1940s, it had three permanent bridges built across the Quyon River (for a sum of $14,550)[15]. Several fires, including a large one in 1951 that devastated a large part of the city proves the need to improve access to water.  After several years of waiting, the Municipality is equipped with an aqueduct, a water treatment plant and a sewage system in 1958 (it should be noted that it was only in the 2000s that the village was equipped with a wastewater treatment plant).  It seemingly would be one of the first municipalities in the Pontiac to do so, following the administration of Elsie Gibbons in Portage-du-Fort[16]. A journalist for the Equity interestingly reminds us of that leadership by drawing a parallel between environmental protection and industrial development:

« Leading the Pontiac with respect to sanitary sewerage, Quyon may well now be in a position to lead in industrial development »[17].

In fact, the Quyon Mill (the Dowd Mill, later known as the Quyon Mill run by Harvey Steele), a milling company for grain farmers, thrived in the late 1950s.  New machinery and the mechanization of certain activities facilitated the employees’ work and consequently, allowed an increase in productivity[18].  A cooperative was also created in 1944 in order to establish a dairy shop.  Its president was Gervase O’Reilly, a citizen very involved in the Agricultural Society of Quyon and in organizing the agricultural fair.  The Director was C. Russell Taber, Mayor of Quyon from 1955-59.  In 1966, the coop consisted of 280 members where they processed the milk (into butter, cream and even into powdered milk) that came from more than 300 consignors[19].

A new post office was built and was inaugurated in March of 1961, in presence of the provincial MP (Ray Johnston), the Mayor (William Burke) and previous postmasters, (Kenneth Bronson and his wife Muriel) as well as the new postmaster (Basil Murphy)[20].  The town’s population at the time was 816[21].



Plan of the village of Quyon in 1897. Established by Chas. E. Goad. Source : National Library and Archives, R6990-912-5-E, NMC 9184.

Recent history:  from the creation of the Municipality of Pontiac to the present day

At the time of the merger in 1975, 10 members from the four municipalities were appointed as Council on a temporary basis.  From South Onslow, Kenneth Bronson and Hugh Hammond were appointed.  From North Onslow they were Bernard Armitage and Gerard Joanisse.  From Quyon, William Burke, James Stewart and Tom Fraser were appointed.  Finally, from Eardley, they were Marcel Lavigne, Glen Nugent and Hilliard Fahey, as well as the Secretary-treasurer Mrs. Joan Brady, designated to act as the President until an election was held between the gentlemen…

At the first meeting of the new Council, Quyon’s incumbent Mayor William Burke was chosen by the members of Council in a vote against Marcel Lavigne.  He became Mayor of the Municipality on a temporary basis, until the first official elections were held.  Kenneth Bronson was Acting Mayor.  It was also decided that the Municipality’s administrative office would be in Luskville, but that the Quyon Town Hall remain open.  The minutes of the meetings would be written in both official languages and Council discussions would also be held in both languages.  A $30,000 loan was taken in order to close the books of the four municipalities and to proceed with audits[22].

The Municipality of Pontiac’s first official election was held at the end of the year in 1977.  Three Councillors’ seats and the Mayor’s position would be voted on.  Kenneth Bronson was elected in Ward number 3 (Onslow) in the election between him and Ray Robinson.  Representatives of Wards 5 and 6 were René Vaillant and Michel Grenier respectively (elected by acclamation).  In the running for the Mayor’s seat, four candidates competed:  William Burke, Joseph Perrier, James Stewart and Stephan Taylor.    The incumbent Mayor, William Burke won the election and remained Mayor until 1979[23]. Marcel Lavigne, former mayor of Eardley succeeds him and holds the position until 1990.  Under his administration, the Municipality gets a new community centre and a library.

In 1989, a revision of the various electoral district limits leaves the Councillors from the East and the West at a crossroad.  Different scenarios are studied, such as:  1) expanding districts 1, 2 and 3 (South Onslow, North Onslow and Quyon); 2) reducing districts 4, 5 and 6 and adding a seventh Councillor to represent Eardley; 3) keeping the limits as they are[24]. In 1990, Edward McCann, former Councillor for Quyon (1980-83) wins the election against the incumbent mayor Marcel Lavigne[25]. In 1992 Council consists of John Telford, Leo Gibbons, Lawrence Tracey, Edward McCann (Mayor), Gary Trivett, Denis Papineau, Pierre Sauvageau and Hélène Bélisle.  Council works in particular on repatriating the municipality to the MRC of Pontiac, a proposal to which Bristol’s Mayor Jack Graham opposes, as it suggests the annexation of the Hilton Mines[26].

As several problems arise, with respect to the quality of water (supplied from the river) in the Quyon sector at the beginning of the 1990s, the importance of building a wastewater treatment system (which had been flowing directly into the Quyon and Ottawa Rivers) is back on the agenda.  A subsidy is granted in 1997 by the Quebec government to build the infrastructure, in addition to moving the main pumping station to Clarendon Street, on the other side of the Quyon River[27]. Several scenarios are studied, including lagoons and even solar treatment systems.  Finally, the first option was chosen and the work began in 2004, to be completed the following year[28].

Re-elected, Marcel Lavigne was mayor from 1994 to 1998.  He does not run in the next elections opposite Bruce Campbell, Louis-Henri Vaillant and Edward McCann.  Campbell wins the election, and Councillors Pierre Sauvageau, Jean-Pierre Gendron, Garry Dagenais, Roger Larose, Gil Fraser, Hawley Lépine and Denise Thériault-Levasseur are also elected[29]. In the year 2000, the municipality experiences a turbulent period in its history, as it operates under the authority of Mrs. Louise Harel, Minister of Municipal Affairs.  Incapable of adopting by-laws since September 1999, including the budget, the municipality remains at a standstill and the mayor asks the government to be placed under administrative supervision.  The seven Councillors in addition to the mayor are evenly divided (4 against 4) on several files and specifically the one pertaining to the bicycle path (PPJ).  Furthermore, quorum is rarely reached because of the absence of the four Councillors from the Eardley area[30].

In 2005, Edward McCann succeeds Mr. Campbell, and remains the mayor until 2013, completing two consecutive terms.  In 2008, the Municipality is re-divided into six districts instead of seven, in order to avoid the situation which divided the Council in 2000 from happening again[31]. Among the topics that drew attention were:  the proposal to renovate and expand the Municipality of Pontiac’s Town Hall is approved in 2009[32]; a real estate development project centered around an airport along the river to which the Municipality gives the green light[33]; and finally, the new water filtration system is planned and brought to fruition by the McCann administration[34].

During the elections in November 2013, Roger Larose, Councillor from 1998 to 2005, and again from 2009, wins the elections over Edward McCann.  Councillors who are elected are Nancy  Draper Maxsom (district 1), Denis Dubé (district 2), Tom Howard (district 3), Inès Pontiroli (district 4), Brian Middlemiss (district 5) and Dr. Jean Amyotte (district 6). Councillor Mr. Dubé resigns in July 2015 and is replaced after a by-election held in November 2015 by Edward McCann.  Since Mayor Larose’s election and following several public consultations, Council has developed a Seniors Municipal Policy, which was launched in October 2015.  Council has also taken steps to improve the development of parks, notably by adding new play structures in the Bellevue and des Hirondelles parks; repairs to the recreational park on Highway 148 in Luskville and the one on Ferry Road in Quyon are foreseen in 2016.  Several roads have been repaired and the municipality foresees over the course of the next years, taking over the responsibility, of certain “tolerance” roads[35].

Replacement or addition to two new community centres (Quyon and Breckenridge), are also on the Council’s agenda for 2016 and 2018.

 

Appendix 1.

Toponymic glossary (from the Commission de toponymie du Québec website)

Township of Eardley

Approximately 15km to the West of Hull, the township of Eardley extends along the Ottawa River.  Its name is taken from the village of Eardley End, in the Staffordshire, in England.  The high area of this region to the north where the land is not cleared, is surrounded by many smaller bodies of water around Philippe Lake and Mousseau Lake, which are at an altitude exceeding 400m.  As for the lower part which is cleared, the elevation is below 120m and corresponds to the former floodplain of the Ottawa River.  This is where the hamlets of Eardley, Luskville, Heyworth and Breckenridge are settled.  The name of this township was already shown on the de Gale and Duberger map in 1795.  Proclamation: 1806.

Township of Onslow

Delimited to the south by the Ottawa River, this township includes the village of Quyon, set just South of the Canadian Pacific Railway, as well as by Lac la Pêche to the North.  Although the origin of the name is not well explained, it may be noted that Onslow is a name widely used in London’s toponomy, in particular in the Kensington area.  Furtermore, between 1767 and 1777, the British Minister of Finances was George, the first Earl of Onslow (1731-1816), which we may have wanted to honor in the toponomy of Lower Canada back then.  The name of the Onslow Township indeed appears on the Gale and Duberger map in 1795. Proclamation: 1805.

Breckenridge (hamlet)

This small urban area of the Eardley Township, in the Municipality of Pontiac, bears the name of Robert Breckenridge, the first postmaster in the area (1872-1877).  It was originally known under the name Heyworth before the name Breckenridge is adopted, which also designated a small train station.  Furthermore, the name of this hamlet was also used to designate a neighbouring bay in the Ottawa River.  Breckenridge is located approximately 20 kilometres North-East of Hull.

Luskville (hamlet)

This hamlet was established in the northern part of the Municipality of Pontiac 25km west of Hull, in the Outaouais region.  The name of this area recalls the memory of Joseph Lusk, a pioneer who settled in the Eardley Township in 1832.  The first chapel was established in 1862.  The Luskville post-office was inaugurated in 1884 and has been closed since 1986-10-04.

Eardley (hamlet)

This hamlet, consisting of only six or seven families, was part of the Municipality of Pontiac’s territory, located approximately 30 kilometres to the west of Hull.  The area was inhabited, as of 1824, by a small group of Scottish and Irish people.  The post-office in the area (1853-1915) named after the Eardley Township, was proclaimed on August 22, 1806.  The name was probably taken from that of the village of Staffordshire, in England.

Quyon (village)

Located at the mouth of the Quyon River, 50 km north-east of Hull, the village was founded in 1848 by John Egan, owner of the paper mill.  This industrious gentleman was mayor of Aylmer from 1847 to 1855.  At the time, the Sainte-Marie-de-Quyon mission existed and later, the Municipality of Quyon was established on January 1st 1875. This village was somewhat prosperous, thanks to the Union Forwarding Company who had a tensile railway line built.  The name Quyon could be a distortion of a Native American word that referred to a game called “des couillons” which was similar to the lacrosse game.  Before the municipal establishment of the village, the name was spelled Quion and was pronounced [couyô], hence another hypothesis according to which the original form, also a Native American word, means sandy bottom river.  Previous landslides at the arrival of the first settlers were in fact reported in the Onslow Township, where the village of Quyon is located.  The river had no other option than to falter through the material to make a path and regain its former impeded bed. The village of Quyon’s municipality merged with the Municipality of Pontiac in 1975, at the same time as the other neighbouring municipalities of North Onslow, South Onslow and Eardley.

Onslow Corner (hamlet)

Onslow Corners, a modest hamlet of the Municipality of Pontiac, is located at 12km north of the Ottawa River and the village of Quyon, and at 4m west of the Gatineau Park.  The name is a result of the merger of two elements:  Onslow, the Township name, which reminds us of a district in London or of a British Minister, while Corners identifies intersections where two roads meet.

Wyman (hamlet)

Located in the municipality of the Bristol Township, this hamlet in the Outaouais overlaps the limits of the Onslow and Bristol Townships, at 2 km south-west of the Quyon River.  Its name comes from James Wyman, one of the first residents in the area.  A post-office named Wyman served this area from 1905 to 1970.  The name Wyman was also designated to the train station in that area. The hamlet formerly known as Bellerica or Billerica, according to sources, was probably named after the Town of Billerica, Massachusetts, and Woburn before that. The Commission de géographie du Québec accepted the name Wyman in 1956.

Pontiac (municipality)

Pontiac, formerly identifying a division of the census and an electoral township in 1853, is also used to identify an electoral district, a Regional County Municipality (RCM), a region and a municipality, and remains one of the few Native American surnames used, along with Donnacona and Batiscan, to represent an administrative entity in Quebec.  In fact, the RCM des Collines-de-l'Outaouais’ territory, with numerous lakes and located in proximity to the Gatineau Park, bears the name of a renowned Chief of the Outaouais tribe (between 1712 and 1725-1769), Pontiac, which was spelled Pondiak or Pondiag by the Francophones, and Pontiack, Ponteak and Pontiague by the Anglophones.  This Algonquin Chief, renowned for his eloquence and audacity, was an important ally for the French during the Seven Year War (1756-1763), because in the context of the fur trade, he was very satisfied with the relationship he had with the French and did not wish to negociate with the English, who were allies of the Iroquois.  He will go to war and besiege Detroit in 1763, at the time when the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Year war, primarily a European war.  Having lost all support, when he arrives in Cahokia in 1767, he finds that people are suspicious of him, and they decide to get rid of him.  He would perish, murdered in the street in April of 1769, at the hands of the nephew of a local Indian Chief in Cahokia, directly across from Saint-Louis which, at that time was a Spanish province of Louisiana.  The territory bordered to the south by the Ottawa River tracing the border with the province of Ontario, about 30 kilometres north-east of Aylmer, in 1975 Pontiac is the result of a merger of four municipalities:  Onslow and Eardley created in 1845 and 1846, and Quyon and South Onslow established in 1875 and 1876.  Onslow reminds us of an area in England or of an English Finance Minister, George Onslow (1731-1816), while Eardley represents a name of village in Staffordshire and Quyon, locally pronounced [kuju$] a name identifiying a game related to lacrosse, referred to as “couillons”.  Furthermore, the oldest Parish in the area, founded in 1848, was named St. Mary of Quyon.  In 1863, Stanislas Drapeau mentions the Quio River, in the Onslow Township.  See: Eardley (township); Onslow (township) and Quyon (village).


[1] On the subject of the first inhabitants in the Outaouais (and the Pontiac), one can consult with interest James Morrison’s, « The History of Algonquins on the Ottawa River », in the Ottawa River Heritage Designation Committee, A basic study for the nomination of the Ottawa River to be part of the Canadian Heritage River Systems, 2005; Gérard Pelletier, « The first inhabitants in the Outaouais », in Chad Gaffield’s work (dir.), History of the Outaouais (Québec, Quebec Instistute for Cultural Research, 1997), p. 41-65.

[1] Stephen McGregor, Since Time Immemorial : « Our story ». The Story of the Kitigan Zibi Ansihinabeg (Maniwaki, Kitigan Zibi Education Council, 2004), p. 45.

[1] André Cellard, « The Algonquins’ Great River : 1600-1650 », in C. Gaffield’s History of the Outaouais, p. 67-84.

[1] Daniel William Harmon, A Journal of voyages and travels in the Interior of North America, New York, Allerton, 1822.

[1] André Cellard and Gérald Pelletier, « The Ottawa River, 1650-1791 », in C. Gaffield’s, History of the Outaouais,
p. 85-103.

[1] « Ottawa River », site of Commission de Toponomie (Geographical Names Board).

[1] See Louis Chevrette, « Pondiac », Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

[1] « Wyman », Commission de toponymie du Québec website.

[1] See Manon Leroux, « Pontiac – Onslow », L’autre Outaouais (Gatineau, Pièce sur pièce, 2012), p. 159-173.

[1] To be noted that we often confuse in books, (including in Leroux) these two facilities built by Egan that were only a few kilometres from each other. On the importance of Egan, please consult Richard M. Reid’s « Egan, John », Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

[1] See Manon Leroux, « Pontiac - Eardley », in L’autre Outaouais…, p. 153-159.

[1] On the Parish History, consult Michel Pourbaix’s work, The History of a Christian Community. Eardley, Luskville, Pontiac (Luskville, Saint-Dominic socio-cultural group, 1999).

[1] James Robinson, The Quio. How Quyon came to be (Shawville, Pontiac Printshop, 2006).

[1] See Jean de Bonville, La presse québécoise (The Quebec Press) from 1884 to 1914 : genesis of a mass medium (Laval University Presses, 1988), p. 75.

[1] « Quyon Debt Free For First Time In 33 Years », May 20, 1946.

[1] On Gibbons see Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert, “Elsie Gibbons”, in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

[1] « Progress At Quyon », The Equity, May 1, 1958.

[1] « One particular industry which is showing signs of significant advancement is Quyon Mill, now being completely revamped. Some new machinery is being installed including a hopper where the truck loads of grain can be dumped. The finished Shur Gain feeds will also come off the mixer into automatic baggers. These additions, and other machinery relocations, mean stepped up production, giving a much better service to the community, while facilitating the working conditions at the mill. » « Progress At Quyon », The Equity, May 1, 1958.

[1] « Quyon Co-op may expand significantly », The Equity, March 23, 1966.

[1] « Quyon Proudly Watches As New Post Office is Opened », The Equity, March 16, 1961.

[1] « Some interesting facts about Quyon and other Pontiac towns », The Equity, September 1965.

[1] « Pontiac, Pontiac now a fact. Burke elected first Mayor of new municipality », The Equity, January 15, 1975.

[1] « Election statistics in the Municipality of Pontiac », The Equity, January 11, 1978.

[1] « Pontiac boundary stalemate continues », The Equity, September 20, 1989.

[1] Kim Thalheimer, « McCann elected mayor », 7 novembre 1990; Kim Thalheimer, « McCann wins recount », November 14, 1990.

[1] Richard Wills, « McCann takes action to come back to Pontiac », The Equity, June 2, 1993; Merry Reardon, « Bristol rejects McCann proposal », The Equity, July 28, 1993.

[1] « Quyon: Four million for wastewater treatment », The Pontiac Journal, March 25, 1997.

[1] Mo Laidlaw, « Pontiac council report. An end to Quyon’s sewage in Ottawa River! », Pontiac Journal, August 6, 2004; Leah Miller, « Quyon’s lagoon basin being repaired, new water filtration system in the works », The Equity, May 25, 2005.

[1] Fred Ryan, « Upset in Pontiac election », Quebec Post, November 6, 1998; Sylvain St-Laurent, « Bruce Campbell wins in Pontiac », Le Droit, November 2, 1998.

[1] Carrie Buchanan, « Quebec imposes trusteeship on Pontiac municipality », West Quebec Post, March 17, 2000; Paul McGee, « Only dissolution will end Pontiac’s turmoil », The Ottawa Citizen, Mach 29, 2000; Patrice Gaudreault, « Pontiac demande la mise sous tutelle » (Pontiac asks to be under trusteeship) , Le Droit, December 1999.

[1] Christina Gray, « Municipality of Pontiac takes first step towards ward changes », The Equity, July 9, 2008.

[1] Cindy Blais, « Changes to the municipality of Pontiac », September 30, 2009.

[1] Dave Rogers, “Pontiac approves plans for plane-friendly development”, The Ottawa Citizen, September 7, 2009.

[1] Julielee Stitt, « New water filtration system will take Quyon water quality from “cavalier to Cadillac”», The Equity, June 8, 2011.

[1] Three-year Capital Expenditure Program (PDF document), Municipality of Pontiac website; See also Mayor M. Roger Larose’s report, on the municipality’s financial situation – filed on November 10, 2015 (PDF document), available on the Municipality of Pontiac website.