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Visiting Portage-du-Fort: A Spire-Dominated Riverside Skyline

Updated on January 27, 2020
Flag of Quebec
Flag of Quebec | Source
Portage-du-Fort, Quebec, Canada
Portage-du-Fort, Quebec, Canada | Source

A complex sense of place

The tranquil, riverside scene, depicted above, is of the skyline of Portage-du-Fort, on the Rivière de l'Outaouais / Ottawa River, in the Municipalité régionale de comté de Pontiac / Pontiac Regional County Municipality.

Because it is a riverside scene, and since the Rivière de l'Outaouais / Ottawa River generally marks the border between Quebec and Ontario, some readers might naturally conclude that the photo was taken from the Ontario side of the river. Actually this is not the case. The trees in the foreground of the picture are in fact situated on Île Limerick, which, together with Petite Île Limerick these two islands remain within Quebec, before the southern bank of the Rivière de l'Outaouais / Ottawa River which marks the Ontario provincial boundary.

The skyline is dominated by the spire of the Eglise St.-James / St. James's Church. This building, dating from 1850, is executed in stone, with many examples of neo-Gothic window and door arching (1). Interestingly, Eglise St.-James / St. James's Church is not usually referred to by the French equivalent: 'Saint-Jacques'; the preferred usage 'Eglise St.-James' is because of predominant proportion of Anglophones among its congregants.

In fact, despite being in Quebec, Eglise St.-James / St. James's Church is attached to the Diocese of Pembroke in neighbouring Ontario. (This would doubtless have posed an interesting situation if in 1995 the referendum on Quebec independence had brought about a majority for secession instead of for remaining in Canada (2).)

It might be added that Portage-du-Fort also has Protestant church buildings; and naturally in organizational terms Protestant churches among themselves have very widely differing histories and practices.

In the vicinity of Portage-du-Fort, the various channels into which the Rivière de l'Outaouais / Ottawa River divides thus seem to suggest parallel leitmotive for the various, crisscrossing demographic boundaries within the locality: whether linguistic or religious.

January 27, 2020


(1) See also: ;

(2) Such a situation would not be without precedent, however; it is interesting that in Europe, for example, the Roman Catholic parish of Beausoleil, France, falls within the Archdiocese of Monaco, situated in the independent Principality of Monaco; and, prior to the more recent establishment of the Archdiocese of Liechtenstein, the Roman Catholic parishes within the Principality of Liechtenstein were for centuries within the Diocese of Chur, Switzerland.

Also worth seeing

In Portage-du-Fort, Quebec, itself there are various heritage properties, some of them of built of stone, which surround or are close to Parc Brosseau; the town hall dates from 1855; the village has become well known for artistic exhibitions.

In Gatineau, Quebec (distance: 88.3 kilometres), 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, Ontario (distance: 91.1 kilometres) 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 (distance from Portage-du-Fort, Quebec: 103.3 kilometres), where car rental is available. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

Map location of Municipalité régionale de comté de Pontiac / Pontiac Regional County Municipality
Map location of Municipalité régionale de comté de Pontiac / Pontiac Regional County Municipality | Source

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