History and Heritage

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History

By Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert

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 has 5,986 inhabitants according to the population decree of the municipalities of Quebec of 2021.

The Municipality of Pontiac was 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 would have its origin 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 dates back to thousands of years.

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.

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.

Mayors and Councillors

By Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert

Several Councillors and mayors stood out throughout the Municipality’s history: they have provided essential infrastructures, contributed to its economic development and to the implementation of sports and recreational activities.

The development of the village of Quyon is closely linked to the name of John Egan. In 1846, as the first Member of Parliament for Pontiac County, Egan built a sawmill on the Quyon River (in 1840, he had already built a similar facility in Pontiac Village, possibly the largest such facility along the Ottawa River), in the heart of the village of the same name, on the site of the Dowd Mill on Egan Street. [1]. Egan also donated land to various religious denominations for the construction of churches in the Onslow Township and Quyon.

His assistant Walton Smith, also in the timber trade, was also a citizen who was very committed to the village’s development. From 1860 to 1865, and again from 1873 to 1875, Smith was Mayor of Onslow. In 1875, when the municipality of the village of Quyon was created, he became the first mayor and held the position until 1878.

Joseph Wyman Jr., around 1835, founded a hamlet that he named Woburn. The hamlet is then known under the name Billerica, but in 1956, the name is officially changed from Wyman. Wyman played an important role in the region’s communications history. As of the 1840s, he was in charge of transporting the mail between Aylmer and Portage-du-Fort. His mill provided timber for the construction of buildings to house the kitchen and dormitory for the men who worked on the site of the Georgienne Bay Canal (1854-57) to the village of Pontiac. Councillor in Onslow over the course of several years, he would also become its Mayor in 1877.

Hector M. McLean was Mayor of Eardley for 17 years and Prefect of the Ottawa County for 5 years (Eardley had long been in the Ottawa County). He would also be Mayor of the village of Quyon from 1889 to 1891.

John James Muldoon, resident in the Beechgrove hamlet, also served as Councillor in South Onslow for several years (including 1895-1897).

In January 1906 Patrick O'Reilly was elected Mayor of Onslow North and served until 1925. He was the longest serving mayor in Onslow North, serving for 19 years.

Some councillors have served for very long periods of time. Bernard Armitage, who participated in the creation of the Municipality of Pontiac, represented Onslow-North for 30 years. [2]. Leo Gibbons, who served on Quyon municipal Council from 1965 to 1975, returned to politics in the late 1980s as a Quyon councillor in the new municipality. [3]. President of the Quyon Agricultural Society, Kenneth Bronson served for 35 years as Mayor (1961-1975) and Councillor of South Onslow and then of the Municipality of Pontiac.

Moreover, S. Wyman Mackechnie was actively involved with the Quyon Agricultural Society. Mayor of South Onslow from 1941 to 1951, he was first a Councillor in the 1930s.

Finally, in the Eardley sector, the Lusk family played a predominant role on the Municipal Council. At least two of them, Isaac Lusk and Jos F. Lusk served on the Municipal Council.

[1] Richard M. Reid, « Egan, John », Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

[2] “Award for 30 years on council”, The Equity, July 6, 1983.

[3] Denise Belec, “Gibbons wins close race”, The Equity, August 24, 1988.

Mayors of the Municipality of Pontiac
(since 1975)

Last name Mandate
William Burke 1975-1979
Marcel Lavigne 1979-1990
Edward McCann 1990-1994
Marcel Lavigne 1994-1998
Bruce Campbell 1998-2005
Edward McCann 2005-2013
Roger Larose 2013-2017
Joanne Labadie 2017-2021

Sport is at the heart of the Municipality's community life

One of the oldest forms of citizens’ involvement within the Municipality is sports related. In the Municipality of Pontiac, and particularly in the village of Quyon, organized sports go back to the turn of the 20th Century, with the establishment of the first hockey team that was active at least since 1902.

During the 1910s, several groups of Women’s Institutes are formed in Pontiac, first in Wyman (1913), followed by Beechgrove, Eardley, Breckenridge and Quyon.

Near the end of the 1930s, the concentrated social fabric of Quyon was the development of a rather rudimentary fire department.

In 1956, a group consisting of seven veterans set up local 231 of the Canadian Legion. A service-oriented organization, the Lions Club is created in 1967, and in 1983, its female subsidiary, the Lionettes receives its charter. Since then, these citizens groups have played a major role in organizing sports and recreational activities for the youth, in supporting various causes and groups through fundraisers and in the social and cultural life of the community (coordinating the winter carnival, parades, community suppers, dances, etc.).

Community centers and libraries

The model school in Onslow (known today as the Bert Kennedy Centre) was renovated by the municipality and made available (from 1976) to various groups, such as the Quyon Women’s Institute and the Quyon Senior Citizens’ Club.

The Luskville Community Centre was inaugurated on February 9, 1980. The library was inaugurated a few years later, on June 11, 1989. The Quyon Library, for its part, has changed location several times. It was first located in the building in front of the Saint-Mary’s school (which is now being used by municipal employees), to then move temporarily to the old Convent of the Sisters of Saint-Mary’s, before finally settling in the building on John Street in 1999.

Other areas for leisure activities and socializing

The recreational parks, including the Luskville Park and the old fairgrounds where the Quyon Agricultural Fair used to be held, are at the heart of the community and sports sociability. Not only do these parks host sports and friendly competitions and sports training sessions for children, they are also often community gathering places for various cultural, social or musical events.

Population of 5850 inhabitants

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Women

Total private dwellings: 2664

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Highest certificate, diploma or degree for the
population aged 25 to 64 in private households

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