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Visiting Chapeau, Quebec: Scarcely Perceptible Subtleties Looming Over the Rivière-des-Outaouais / Ottawa River

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Chapeau, Isle aux Allumettes, Quebec, Canada

Chapeau, Isle aux Allumettes, Quebec, Canada

Prominence and obscurities

[NB: Among the many notable buildings which are the subject of these hubpages, these may include religious buildings, described as churches, etc.; these descriptions centre on the buildings' architectural and historical interest.]

On L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec, the village of Chapeau, in Outaouais' Municipalité régionale de comté de Pontiac / Pontiac Regional County Municipality, looms above the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River, close to the bridge linking the village with Chichester. The sense of a settlement perching on a vantage point over the historic river is heightened by the tower of the Église St-Alphonsus-de-Liguori, rising conspicuously high.

Executed in stone, this prominent building dates from 1888 (1), replacing a previous structure. Features include copious Syrian (or Romanesque) arching and a pillared, octagonal tower.

When one visits Chapeau, which faces the northern bank of the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River, there are evidently various features of the village and its wider locality which are somewhat intriguing.

In the first place, Chapeau's north-facing situation is somewhat uncanny, if one remembers that the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River generally marks the jurisdictional and psychological boundary between Quebec and Ontario. The island on which the village is located — L'Isle-aux-Allumettes — is actually the largest island in the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River. In places, these islands abound, and administratively they are divided between the two provinces.

L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, however, is most definitely in Quebec. Crossing L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, towards the south, one comes to yet another island in the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River — which Route 148 traverses — before one arrives in Ontario. This island is called l'île Morrison; however, it used to be called l'île de Tessouat, recalling a First Nations who lived in the 17th century.

Back to the Église St-Alphonsus-de-Liguori at Chapeau: intriguingly, it forms part of the diocese of Pembroke, in Ontario. Bearing in mind that in 1995 Quebec almost separated from Canada following a hotly contested referendum, if the result had been just a hairsbreadth different — so to speak — would have been that the Église St-Alphonsus-de-Liguori would have belonged to a diocese based in another country (2).

In 1855, the municipality of l'île-aux-Allumettes was founded. In 1987 an official event occurred: the municipality changed its name to l'Isle-aux-Allumettes. (Did you notice the difference?) A circumflex was deleted and a letter 's' — reflecting an archaic spelling in French, in any case, was added. I am wholly unsure why. But it was somehow deemed important: another local subtlety, the reason for which is likely to remain obscure to most visitors.

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November 12, 2020


(1) See also (in French):

(2) The kind of situation which might have arisen in 1995 is not without precedent. Europe supplies examples of such ecclesiastical anomalies. For example, the Église d'Abeele, Boeschèpe, France actually belongs to the Belgian diocese of Bruges. the Église de Lasauvage in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg actually uses a cemetery in neighbouring France, with a customs officially having formerly for many years dutifully followed mourners moving between indoor church rites and the cemetery, "just in case". Clergy in some parish churches in the south of France located not far from the independent Principality of Monaco customarily read pastoral letters from the Archbishop of Monaco rather from any bishop from any French diocese. In the Principality of Andorra, the (in France officially secular) French President shares office as Co-Prince with a Spanish Bishop.

Also worth seeing

Fort William (distance: approx. 15.1 kilometres); a 19th century hotel in Sheenboro with historical associations is at a Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson / Hudson's Bay Company trading post and traditional First Nations gathering place.


How to get there: Air Canada flies from various North American destinations to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport / Aéroport international Macdonald-Cartier d'Ottawa (distance to Chapeau, L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Quebec: 160.1 kilometres), where car rental is available. From Ottawa take Hwy 417/17 west to Laurentian Valley, and thence via Route 148 into Quebec, following signage to Chapeau, L'Isle-aux-Allumettes. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map location of Municipalité régionale de comté de Pontiac / Pontiac Regional County Municipality

Map location of Municipalité régionale de comté de Pontiac / Pontiac Regional County Municipality

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