Gatineau, Quebec

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Map of Quebec with Gatineau highlighted in red.
Map of Quebec with Gatineau highlighted in red.

Gatineau (2001 census population 226,296) is a city in western Quebec, Canada. It is situated on the northern bank of the Ottawa River, immediately across from Ottawa, Ontario.

Before January 1, 2002, there were five cities on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River: Hull, Gatineau, Aylmer, Buckingham, and Masson-Angers. Hull was still considered the primary city within this region although Gatineau had come to have a larger population, so when the cities were amalgamated the name Gatineau was retained because it was more representative of the region (e.g., a federal park to the north-west of the new city encompasses the Gatineau Hills, and is called "Parc de la Gatineau," Hull and Gatineau are divided by a river called "Riviere de la Gatineau," etc) and the independentist Parti Québécois in power wanted an appropriately French name. Hull-Gatineau was the most popular choice in the polls, but the name Gatineau was adopted, despite the fact Hull had more history behind it. Most of the citizens live in the dense cores of Aylmer, Hull and old Gatineau. Buckingham and Masson-Angers are more rural communities.

The previous Parti Quebecois government of Quebec amalgamated the five former cities that constitute Gatineau, against the wishes of many of the local residents. On June 20, 2004, the current Liberal government fulfilled a campaign promise by holding a referendum vote, giving the residents of the former cities the choice of separating from Gatineau. In order to separate, the residents of a former city required a double-win: more than 50% of the vote representing at least 35% of the electorate. The majority of the votes cast in Aylmer and Masson-Angers were in favour of separation, but they did not represent at least 35% of the electorate in their respective communities. The majority of voters in Buckingham and Hull, chose to remain part of Gatineau. The participation was very low, and the status quo can be partly attributed to the indifference of the citizens. There was no referendum in the former city of Gatineau.

It was originally reported that the residents of Masson-Angers were able to meet the 50%-35% rule, and that they would be separating from Gatineau. However, a recount caused seventeen votes to be rejected. Because of this, the number of votes cast in favour of separation was fifteen votes short of being at least 35% of the electorate. As a result, the city of Gatineau will remain intact.

A number of federal and provincial government offices are located in Gatineau, due to its proximity to the national capital, and its status as the main town of the Outaouais region of Quebec. A policy of the Federal Government to distribute federal jobs on both sides of the Ottawa River led to the construction of several massive office towers to house federal civil servants in Gatineau; the largest of these are Place du Portage and Place du Centre, occupying part of what had been the downtown core of Hull. Two important tourist attractions located in Gatineau are the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Casino du Lac Leamy.

Missing image

View of Hull, main sector of Gatineau across the Ottawa River, with the Canadian Museum of Civilization at right, and the Gatineau Hills in the background

At the end of August and the beginning of September Gatineau hosts an annual hot air balloon festival which fills the skies with colorful gas-fired passenger balloons.

Missing image
filling the balloons in the park

There are many parks. Some of them are well gardened playgrounds or resting spaces while others, like Lac Beauchamp Park, are relatively wild green areas which often merge with the woods and fields of the surrounding municipalities. Streams of all sizes run through these natural expanses. Most of the city is on level ground but the Northern and Eastern parts lie on the beginnings of the foothills of the massive Canadian Shield, or Laurentian mountains. These are the "Gatineau Hills", and are visible, in the background of the companion picture.

The city contains a campus of the Université du Québec, the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO).

It is also the home of the Cégep de l'Outaouais, known as the most unusual of the province-run junior colleges (CEGEP) with 625 employees and around 3000 students on three campuses, and recognized for its infamous student newspaper, the Entremetteur.

Gatineau has a municipal airport capable of handling small jets. There are Canada customs facilities for aircraft coming from outside Canada, a car rental counter and a restaurant. Various attempts to provide scheduled service from Gatineau's airport have been made, but have not been successful.

Ottawa and Gatineau comprise Canada's National Capital Region, and for most purposes, are considered to be a single metropolitan area. (See also: Twin cities.)

However, the transportation infrastructures, or the lack of common ones, ensures a sharp divide in quite a few instances. Ottawa and Gatineau have two distinct bus-based public transport systems with only minimal interconnections and different fare structures. Tickets of one are not accepted in the other, and use of passes and transfers from one system to the other can require payment of a surcharge. Many Gatineau highways and major arteries feed directly into the bridges crossing over to Ottawa, but once there the roads land into the dense downtown grid or in residential areas, with no easy connection to the main highway in Ottawa, the East-West 417 or Queensway. This difficulty is further magnified by the lack of a major highway on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River connecting Gatineau to the major city of Montreal, Quebec; most travellers from Gatineau to Montreal first cross over to Ottawa, and use Ontario highways to access Montreal.

According to the 2001 Statistics Canada Census:

  • % Change (1996-2001): 4.2
  • Dwellings: 94,124
  • Area (sq. km.): 342.31
  • Density (persons per sq. km.): 662.3


Racial Groups

Religious Denomination


North: Chelsea, Cantley, Val-des-Monts, L'Ange-Gardien
West: Pontiac Gatineau East: Mayo, Lochaber-Partie-Ouest
South: Ottawa

See List of communities in Quebec, National Capital Region (Canada)

External links


fr:Gatineau pl:Gatineau (Quebec) pt:Gatineau


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