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Visiting Portage-du-Fort, Quebec: A Stone Structure, & Interesting Settlement and Municipal History Before & Since 1855

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Flag of Quebec

Flag of Quebec

Town hall of Portage-du-Fort, Quebec, Canada

Town hall of Portage-du-Fort, Quebec, Canada

Human and natural continuities

While its front porch extension is of much later provenance, Portage-du-Fort's Hôtel de Ville of its Municipalité de village / Village Municipality, in Quebec's Municipalité régionale de comté de Pontiac / Pontiac Regional County Municipality, dates from the 1850s.

This stone building's simple, rectangular windows are complemented by a circular window — now filled in — at the rue de l'Eglise elevation. Stone is a widely commented upon building material in the locality (2).

Records show that Pontiac's first council meeting — serving seven municipalities — was held in this solid, stone building on September 19, 1855 (1). European settlement began in 1844, although from centuries previously records show the intermittent presence of French voyageurs. Samuel de Champlain (d. 1635) is known to have stayed in the locality in June 1613 during one of his journeys to trade with First Nations in the area. Louis d'Ailleboust, sieur de la Madeleine and de Coulonge (1656-1747) is recorded as having built a trading post at what is now known as Portage-du-Fort; it is sometimes reckoned that the 'Fort' in question here refers to this trading post, which might have been built in wood in a defensive structure; however, the etymology is not completely certain.

The Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River, which flows close by the village, is the leitmotif which has exercised a commanding influence over human activity in the locality. It is up the course of the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River that the first steamboats came — as had First Nations and voyageurs, centuries previously; and in the mid-19th century Portage-du-Fort which was a popular berthing place for these vessels. The logging industry was significant in the locality; and after World War Two the nearby Chenaux Hydroelectric Power Station, which straddles the River, began to be a source of local employment.

Among the prominent personalities associated with the Hôtel de Ville has been Elsie Gibbons (1903-2003)(3), who served as Mayor of Portage-du-Fort from 1953 until 1973, and subsequently from 1975 until 1977, also serving as Prefect of Comté de Pontiac / Pontiac County from 1959 until 1961.

The Hôtel de Ville is situated at 24, rue de l'Eglise, Portage-du-Fort, Quebec.

August 14, 2019

Notes

(1) See also: https://portagedufort.weebly.com/instruire-eglise-et-les-cimetiegraveres.html

(2) See also (in French): http://www.mrcpontiac.qc.ca/la-mrc/municipalite/portage-du-fort/ ; (in English): http://www.mrcpontiac.qc.ca/en/mrc/municipalities/portage-du-fort/

(3) See also (in French): http://www.mrcpontiac.qc.ca/hommage-posthume-a-la-premiere-mairesse-de-lhistoire-du-quebec/ ; (in English): http://www.mrcpontiac.qc.ca/en/posthumous-tribute-to-the-first-woman-mayor-in-quebec/

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

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

Also worth seeing

In Portage-du-Fort, Quebec, itself there are various heritage properties, some of them of built of stone, which surround or are close to Parc Brosseau; the village has become well known for artistic exhibitions.

In Gatineau , Quebec (distance: 88.3 kilometres), the Musée canadien des civilisations / Canadian Museum of Civilization is Canada's most visited museum. Gatineau's Masion du citoyen / Citizen's House has a noted art gallery and the Hall des nations / Hall of the Nations containing valuable cultural artifacts from around the world. Parc de la Gatineau / Gatineau Park has exceptional recreational and scenic possibilities.

In Ottawa, Ontario (distance: 91.1 kilometres) possesses cultural treasures, structures of architectural excellence and noted museums which are too numerous to mention properly here; but a few of these include Parliament Hill, Rideau Hall, the Chateau Laurier, Laurier House, the Rideau Canal, and the Bank of Canada's Currency Museum.

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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 from Portage-du-Fort, Quebec: 103.3 kilometres), where car rental is available. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

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