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A region of contrasts, the Outaouais has a splendid capacity for offering both peace and entertainment - nature and the pleasures of city life.
In spring, the Outaouais awakens to the dazzling colours of its thousands of tulips. In summer, it kicks up its heels with cultural activities and green spaces. Next, it dons the brilliant reds and oranges of the fall colours and then makes you long for... winter! Explore it all by bike, on foot, by canoe, on cross-country skis, on snowshoes, by snowmobile...
Set along the Ottawa River and blessed with wildlife reserves (Papineau-Labelle and La Vérendrye) and its national parks (Gatineau and Plaisance), the charm of the Outaouais is enhanced by its numerous attractions, activities, museums and festivals. Included here are the beautiful colours of the Canadian Tulip Festival in May, and the Hot-air Balloon Festival at the end of August. And why not add in a trip to the national capital? Located just across the Gatineau Bridge, it offers much to see and do, from Parliament Hill to its many museums (Fine Arts, War, Natural History, Royal Canadian Mint, etc.), and the picturesque Rideau Canal.
Town and country: something to please everyone!
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Flavours of the region
The agricultural landscapes of the Outaouais are among the loveliest in Quebec and offer great potential for agri-tourism, still relatively new in this region. The Petite-Nation region, in the eastern part of the Outaouais, is the sector where agri-tourism is most present and active. Despite the novelty, the idea is catching on all over the Outaouais and the flavours are distinctive. Among other things, you’ll find:
Delicious, excellent cheeses, exquisite maple sugar products, succulent smoked salmon and sturgeon at La Boucanerie Chelsea.
In Petite-Nation, walk along the Route des herbes, where seven farms offer fresh herbs, medicinal plants, berries and flowers.
Outaouais, a hunting and fishing region, also has fish and small game farms: trout, white-tailed deer, grain-fed chickens, moose and guinea fowl. With such a wonderful supply of game near at hand, local restaurant and hotel chefs compete to prepare the most ingenious dishes.
Between Gatineau and Plaisance, on close to 50 km2, are some remarkable, diverse wetlands. 12,000 years ago, the earth’s crust sank under the weight of a glacier. The Atlantic Ocean rushed in and flooded the Ottawa Valley, and created the Champlain Sea. It took 2000 years for the land to rise up again; when the ocean receded, it left behind beaches, aquatic plants, marshes and even some fish that were successful in adapting themselves to fresh water, such as the Arctic Char, a species of salmon found throughout the region. At the end of August, the aquatic plants transform these wetlands into magnificent floating gardens – a sight not to be missed.
A little history
Since the early times of the First Nations people through to the fur traders, lumberjacks and colonists, the Ottawa River has been at the heart of economic development in the region. It was the major commercial trading route for furs and lumber. At the beginning of the 19th century, white pine was highly prized, as it was ideal for making masts for sailing ships and for building construction. Great Britain, in the midst of an industrial revolution and also at war with Napoleon, and thus deprived of resources, had logs by the thousands sent down this river, into the St. Lawrence and on down to Quebec City, where they were loaded onto ships bound for Europe.
Did you know?
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