The Gatineau River rises in lakes north of the Baskatong Reservoir and flows south to join the Ottawa River at the city of Gatineau. The river is 386 km (239.8 mi) long and drains an area of 23,700 km².
While it has been said that the river's name comes from Nicolas Gatineau, a fur trader who is said to have drowned in the river in 1683, the local Indian tribe, the Algonquin Anicinabek assert that the name comes from their language. The name they give the river is "Te-nagàdino-zìbi", which means "The River that Stops [One's Journey]".
The geography of the area was altered with the construction of the Baskatong Reservoir, and it is still possible to travel upstream on the Gatineau and reach a point where a small portage will bring you to the headwaters of the Ottawa River. The Ottawa River then flows northwest and turns south where it eventually flows more easterly and connects with the Gatineau.
The river is a focal point of the region. Throughout history, it was a major transportation route. With the construction of the railway in the late 19th Century, the area soon became a favourite for Ottawa area residents wanting to escape the hot and humid Ottawa summers to cottages along the river. Very few of these cottages remain today, most having been converted to lovely waterfront homes.
Since the early 1970’s, the population of the villages and towns dotted along its bank has grown. The river and its surrounding area offers the best of country living within a short and easy commute to the urban centres of Ottawa-Gatineau.
Water activities abound along its length – canoeing and boating, sailing (see www.gryc.ca - Gatineau River Yacht Club), swimming and fishing. In the early morning hours, you will also find the women's national dragon boat team practicing on the river near Cascades, in the Municipality of Chelsea.
The Gatineau River, the largest tributary of the Ottawa, drains an area with only a small portion of dense, industrial landuse. For this reason, the river is generally of excellent quality.
Sparkling, clear water and beautiful pine and maple forests at its edge – The Gatineau River – a great treasure!
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