Celebrating the history of the Outaouais!

By Jennifer Anderson

As a national memory institution, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) tells stories of national significance, but that does not mean we forget the value of local history.

Home to LAC’s Preservation Centre, the Outaouais region is steeped in history. LAC collections reflect this history, and remind us of the enduring importance of the people who have lived here, their economic and commercial enterprises, and the natural beauty of the region.

The history of the forestry industry is rooted in the Outaouais, and numerous items from the collection make this link evident. Whether it is a “log driver,” the famous draveur of Outaouais legend, working to dislodge logs blocked on the Gatineau River, the lunchtime ambience of the workplace, or the conviviality of an evening of music at the logging camps, the photographs of yesteryear speak to us with an immediacy that belies the passage of time. They also remind us of the long history of cultural diversity in the region, as French-Canadian, Irish, Scottish and Indigenous workers gained employment in the industry.

A black-and-white photograph of a man standing at the river’s edge with a long stick pushing logs away to keep them moving downstream.

A logger works to keep logs from catching and jamming in a stream, Gatineau, Quebec, May 26, 1942, Library and Archives Canada, e000760706

A black-and-white photograph of men relaxing and sharpening their axes in a log bunkhouse.

Lumberjacks relaxing and sharpening their axes in the bunkhouse at the l’Ange Vin camp, Gatineau, Quebec, March 1943, Library and Archives Canada, e000762608

A black-and-white photograph of three men gathered around a fire, presumably having a midday food break.

Joe Commanda, Martin Odjick and an unidentified man at a “nooning,” Gatineau River Valley, 1910, Library and Archives Canada, e011201807

A black-and-white photograph of a group of men sitting around in a bunkroom playing music and smoking.

Loggers in the camp bunkhouse enjoy an evening with a little “homemade” music, Gatineau, Quebec, June 1946, Library and Archives Canada, a116682

Today, archival collections related to forestry also speak to us of changes to the natural and built environments, and may suggest avenues for the conservation of flora, fauna and local heritage. Using crowdsourcing tools, historians and residents can help archivists by sharing their knowledge of the area to enhance the archival records for future generations of researchers.

A hand-coloured oval-shaped lithography of a man on a raft going down a log chute.

The timber slide, Hull, Quebec, 1855, Library and Archives Canada, c041680k

A black-and-white photograph of an industrialized river landscape showing a bridge, striated rock and buildings in the background.

“Chaudière – Hull side,” date unknown, Library and Archives Canada, a012528-v8

A black-and-white close-up photograph of Chaudière Falls with buildings visible on the distant shore.

View of the Chaudière Falls, looking across to Hull, Quebec, Library and Archives Canada, a012366-v6

A black-and-white photograph of the E.B. Eddy Company buildings in downtown Hull, Quebec.

The E.B. Eddy Company buildings, Hull, Quebec, April 1898, Library and Archives Canada, a027997

Some places sound familiar, but from today’s perspective, it is difficult to recognize certain buildings, as they have been lost to calamity or changing urban designs. In some cases, we may feel nostalgia for past eras, and at other moments, we might agree that the change has been positive.

A black-and-white photograph of a sparsely settled town with a few buildings in the background.

View of the town and the E.B. Eddy store in the distance, Hull, Quebec, ca. 1873, Library and Archives Canada, a012433-v6

A black-and-white photograph of a log drive going down a river.

Timber boom, Pointe-Gatineau, Quebec, 1935, Library and Archives Canada, a056909

A black-and-white photograph of a river shoreline where a manufacturing complex is situated. A large church is located up on the hill behind it.

Hull, Quebec, from Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario, ca. 1923, Library and Archives Canada, a031007

Sometimes our photographic records are missing key bits of information, like the names of the people in the photograph! Do you recognize this hard-working nurse or her patient?

A black-and-white photograph of a nurse speaking with a man in a medical office and taking notes.

A nurse interviews an employee at the E.B. Eddy Company in Hull, Quebec, March 1946, Library and Archives Canada, e002504648

We would not want to give the impression that archives are all work and no play! Frequently, records remind us of the importance of leisure pursuits and recreation. For instance, archival photographs often speak to the sports and tourism industry based in the region.

A black-and-white photograph of people skiing.

Skiing in the Gatineau Hills, date unknown, Gatineau, Quebec, Library and Archives Canada, a009250

A colour photograph of two couples picnicking next to a river.

Picnicking in Brébeuf Park on the Ottawa River near Hull, Quebec, June 1952, Library and Archives Canada, e010948995

A colour photograph of a woman carrying her golf clubs under a partially clouded blue sky.

A golfer at the Chaudière Golf Club near Hull, Quebec, June 1952, Library and Archives Canada, e010949004

And, with a touch of nostalgia and more than a bit of jazz, archival collections can tell us stories of exciting cultural icons from the past. For instance, our records show that shortly before the 1951 fire that destroyed it, the Standish Hall Hotel received some illustrious visitors. On August 4, 1951, Louis Armstrong, Velma Middleton, and the “All Stars” jazz band played the Standish Hall Hotel, attracting the attention of the musical editor of Time magazine, who flew to Hull to hear them, and to interview Armstrong.

A black-and-white photograph of a large building, with a wide veranda and a sign reading “Standish Hall Hotel.”

Exterior view of the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Quebec, with owner J.P. Maloney standing to the right at the front of the building, between 1941 and 1950. Credit: Michael Berens. Library and Archives Canada, e002343711

A black-and-white photograph of two women with a man holding a trumpet.

Louis Armstrong at the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Quebec, August 4, 1951. Credit: Michael Berens. Library and Archives Canada, e002343722

The Standish Hall Hotel, formerly the home of E.B. Eddy, was converted into a concert venue by businessman J.P. Maloney in the 1940s. It attracted big names, including Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.

A black-and-white photograph of people standing in a hallway, with two women and a man posing for a photo.

Duke Ellington at the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Quebec, ca. 1950. Credit: Michael Berens. Library and Archives Canada, e002343721

A black-and-white photograph of five young people gathered around American jazz singer Sarah Vaughan to have their picture taken.

Sarah Vaughan (centre) with fans and friends at the Standish Hall Hotel, Hull, Quebec, ca. 1950. Credit: Michael Berens. Library and Archives Canada, e002343724

We hope you have enjoyed this walk down memory lane! If you have more information (i.e., dates, names, locations) about any of these photographs, please share them with us on our new crowdsourcing website, Co-Lab: http://co-lab.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng


Jennifer Anderson is an archivist in the Science, Environment and Economy section of the Archives Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

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