Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Historical Gatineau Park

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A hike to Carbide Ruins reveals pioneer and industrial history

Story by Katharine Fletcher; photos by Eric Fletcher

This hike from O’Brien Beach to the Carbide Willson Ruins was formerly known as Discovery Trail. Today it’s just No. 36.


That’s because of all hikes in Gatineau Park, this one presents what’s perhaps the most tangible kind of human history. 

Even the approach to the trailhead at O’Brien Beach parking lot (P11) is historical. From Old Chelsea, we travel west on the Meech Lake Road, named after Asa Meech, a Congregationalist minister who came to Hull (today’s Gatineau) from New England in 1815. 

Click  to read entire summer
issue. My article is on p. 11.
Although the National Capital Commission, the agency which manages Gatineau Park, owns Meech’s farmhouse, it remains unidentified, a sad and baffling neglect. Watch for a simple, gabled white farmhouse on your left as you approach O’Brien Beach. Meech built it on 80 hectares of land, deeded to him in November 1823.

Incidentally, O’Brien is a famous Canadian. Renfrew-born, he became a major industrialist who, among other things, planned the Crow’s Nest Pass section of railway which still connects Alberta to British Columbia. And he founded the National Hockey Association in 1909. 

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