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Visiting Gatineau: Panoramic Views of Quebec's Fourth City

Updated on May 12, 2020
Flag of Quebec
Flag of Quebec | Source
Gatineau (view from the Peace Tower of Parliament Centre Block)
Gatineau (view from the Peace Tower of Parliament Centre Block) | Source

Reflections on the superlative nature — and limitations — of cross-river scenic potentials

[This visit occurred some years ago.]

It is sometimes commented — including by myself — that some of the best views of Ottawa, Ontario may be obtained from the Gatineau, Quebec side of the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River. (This kind of situation can be replicated at places such as Windsor, Ontario, where some of the best views may be obtained of the Detroit, Michigan Waterfront.)

The converse is also arguably true regarding views of Gatineau, Quebec.

Some of the most impressive panoramas of Quebec's fourth city (1) may indeed be obtained from the Ottawa side of the River.

This may cause some people to make a further step of reflection, so to speak, and suggest that in the Région de la Capitale Nationale / National Capital Region, comprising Ottawa and Gatineau there is demonstrated a fundamental similarity in nature. The very fact that the region around Ville de Québec / Quebec City is itself called Capitale-Nationale would, however, tend to mitigate against sweeping assumptions that, in fact, most people in Quebec supposedly regard Gatineau and Ottawa as fundamentally similar.

Indeed, Quebec is widely described as 'la société distincte' / the distinct society both popularly in Quebec and in the terminology of lawyers which has been used in discussions for decades; and interestingly not a little of any dissension from the applicability of this term comes from people the Anglophone provinces of Canada who do not actually call Quebec home. (It must also never be forgotten that in 1995 Quebec came only within a hairsbreadth of becoming independent after a hotly-contested referendum. Such a consideration should weigh heavily on those who may otherwise be ready to make sweeping assumptions about the Quebec which may perhaps be based on Anglophone perspectives.)

I have included, below, a view from a hot air balloon of both sides of the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River. Truly the view is indeed impressive.

But maybe it should be stressed that the fact that scenically some of the best views of Gatineau and Ottawa respectively come from opposite sides of the River should not blur the distinctiveness of the two provinces, which is to found at many levels.

I have also included, above, a view of Gatineau taken from the Ottawa side of the River; one of these is taken from Paliament Hill / Colline du Parlement, showing the Centre-Ville / Downtown at Gatineau, with the Collines de Gatineau / Gatineau Hills in the distances; and below, I have included a view taken from further east along the River, showing both the Centre-Ville / Downtown at Gatineau (Hull), the île Leamy / Leamy Island and the St-François-de-Sales of Gatineau parish (2).

May 13, 2020


(1) The first three cities of Quebec, in size, are: Montreal, Ville de Québec / Quebec City and Laval.

(2) This panoramic photo is indeed so wide that only a stretched and narrow version is available.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia.

View of Hull (Gatineau), of l'île Leamy / Leamy Island and of the St-François-de-Sales of Gatineau parish
View of Hull (Gatineau), of l'île Leamy / Leamy Island and of the St-François-de-Sales of Gatineau parish | Source

Also worth seeing

In Gatineau itself, 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 (distance: 2 kilometres from Downtown, Gatineau) 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.


How to get there: Air Canada flies from various North American destinations to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport / Aéroport international Macdonald-Cartier d'Ottawa, where car rental is available. However, travellers may prefer to use OC Transpo public transit for travel within Ottawa / Gatineau. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Downtown Ottawa, parts of Gatineau, Quebec and the Ottawa River, as viewed from a hot air balloon.
Downtown Ottawa, parts of Gatineau, Quebec and the Ottawa River, as viewed from a hot air balloon. | Source
Map location of Gatineau, in Quebec
Map location of Gatineau, in Quebec | Source

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