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Visiting the Pont du Portage / Portage Bridge: A Grand Entry to Gatineau, Quebec

Updated on May 1, 2020
Flag of Quebec
Flag of Quebec | Source
Pont du Portage / Portage Bridge approaching Gatineau
Pont du Portage / Portage Bridge approaching Gatineau | Source

Approaching Gatineau's Centre-Ville / Downtown across the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River

[This visit occurred some years ago.]

The Pont du Portage / Portage Bridge, linking Gatineau (1), Quebec is a beam bridge over the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River, dating from 1973. The Bridge was rehabilitated in 1998; a plaque near the Bridge commemorates this.

Interestingly, the naming of the Bridge has a significant story. While in 1973, Federal officials wanted to name it for Louis Saint-Laurent (1882-1973), Prime Minister of Canada from 1948 until 1957, the Member of Parliament for Hull, Dr. Gaston Isabelle and the Mayor of Hull, Jean-Marie Séguin successfully argued that it would be more appropriate to name it for the historic portage route used by Samuel de Champlain, by First Nations and by workers in the lumber industry, associated with the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River (2).

The Pont du Portage / Portage Bridge thus offers a rather grand approach to the Downtown area of Quebec's fourth largest city. Within Gatineau, the road continues as Boulevard Maisonneuve, past Place du Portage. Before arriving at Gatineau, the Bridge crosses Victoria Island / Île Victoria in the Rivière des Outaouais / Ottawa River, on the Ontario side of the inter-provincial boundary.

The total length of the Bridge, which is six lanes wide, is 700 metres. Vehicle traffic across the Bridges averages approximately 40,000 daily.

At its inception, the Bridge's evening pedestrian traffic was partly informed by the fact that Quebec and Ontario at that time had different licensing hours in force. This differing legislation was later amended on the Ontario side. Prior to the building of the Federal Portage complex at the former Hull, the city received many visitors seeking out licensed establishments.

Leaving aside historical matters of licensing, it remains the case that a brisk walk across the Bridge from one city to another brings one into a very different environment. These distinctions include the linguistic and cultural associations which predominate on each side of the Pont du Portage / Portage Bridge.

April 18, 2020

Notes

(1) In municipal terms today the former Hull is known as Gatineau, while the name Hull is used for the Downtown sector of Gatineau.

(2) See also: https://web.archive.org/web/20070318000640/http://www.tc.gc.ca/programs/surface/bridges/portagehistory.htm

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Portage IV (left)  and a part of Portage III (right), Gatineau, seen from Pont du Portage / Portage Bridge
Portage IV (left) and a part of Portage III (right), Gatineau, seen from Pont du Portage / Portage Bridge | 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.

Map location of Gatineau, in Quebec
Map location of Gatineau, in Quebec | Source

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