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Visiting Lac Leamy / Leamy Lake, Gatineau, Québec / Quebec: an urban lake reminiscent of Geneva?

Updated on February 22, 2016
Flag of Quebec
Flag of Quebec | Source
Lac Leamy
Lac Leamy | Source
Hilton Hotel at Leamy Lake in Gatineau
Hilton Hotel at Leamy Lake in Gatineau | Source
Photo of Andrew Leamy, pioneer industrialist of Hull QC.
Photo of Andrew Leamy, pioneer industrialist of Hull QC. | Source

Urban lake in the Province's fourth city

Visitors to Gatineau who have travelled to Europe, on arrival at Lac Leamy / Lake Leamy in Gatineau, Québec / Quebec, may receive a sense of have been here before.

A large expanse of lake in an urban setting with a large, cosmopolitan dimension: Geneva, Switzerland comes to mind, at least subjectively. To some extent, Peterborough, Ontario also brings such recollections, although Gatineau, with its bilingualism and presence within the Région de la capitale nationale / National Capital Region, evokes more vivid comparisons, in my humble view. The comparison is heightened by the presence of a fountain in the vicinity of the Hilton Hotel and Casino complex (1). I did not visit the Casino, but the 349-room Hilton is among Gatineau's most well appointed hotels; and the adjoining building has a 1100 seat concert facility.

One of the most remarkable features of the Lake is that, while nearby Parc de la Gatinieau / Gatineau Park is known for its pristine, natural wilderness character, Lac Leamy / Lake Leamy and its environs have been carefully restored and beautified after having long been an industrial environment with pollution issues.

Accessible via Boulevard Fournier, on the edge of the Lake is an ecological park, Parc écologique du Lac-Leamy / Lake Leamy Ecological Park (2). In the Park, over 30 species of bird have been spotted. The Park has also undergone extensive archaeological research, which has revealed human habitation over thousands of years.

The Lake is named for Andrew Leamy (1810-1868) an Irish-born, pioneer industrialist in Gatineau (which used to be called Hull; or more properly, Hull is now a sector of Gatineau). Andrew Leamy was son-in-law to Philemon Wright (1760-1839), whose daughter Erexina he married. Philemon Wright founded a settlement called Columbia Falls Village, which became known as Wrightstown; this name eventually gave way to the name Hull.

Andrew Leamy built a lumber mill on what became known as Lac Leamy / Lake Leamy; he also constructed a channel between the Lake and the Gatineau River which proved very useful in his lumber business (indeed, the Lake is close to the confluence of the Gatineau and Ottawa / de l'Outaouais Rivers. Startlingly, his life ended when he was murdered; it is somewhat of a moot point whether his fame chiefly resides in his ownership of the mill on the Lake which now takes his name, or whether it is at least partly because of the untimely manner of his death.

Leaving aside the precise reasons for its naming, it is a remarkable urban lake, in what is the Province's fourth city.

February 23, 2016

Notes

(1) There is a tendency to refer to the immediate lake area around the fountain as Lac de la Carrière.

(2) See also: http://www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places-to-visit/parks-paths/leamy-lake-park ; http://www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca/sites/default/files/pubs/NCC-CCN-Lac-Leamy-Lake-Navigation.pdf

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

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 Hull, 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.

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