at the Chats
In 1819 Charles Shirreff and his sons Robert and
Alexander spurred the establishment of a community
near Chats Falls, at the mouth of the Carp River.
The Shirreffs supported the theory that the Ottawa
River could become a vital transportation and
economic link to the west via the Ottawa River-Georgian
Bay Waterway. Alas, in 1856 after spending half
a million dollars to bypass the Chats, the Canadian
government abandoned the project.
As more people settled in this area the word of
its scenic beauty spread. From 1835 the steamboat
Lady Colborne carried passengers between Fitzroy
Harbour and Aylmer QC. Various other vessels carried
tourists to Chat Falls thru the early 1900s until
a dam and power plant were built in 1929.
Today this majestic river is still a significant
force in the area. It has an important function
in hydroelectric generation and tourists are still
drawn here to enjoy the beauty of the area. However,
the Ottawa River's role in First Nations' history
and the exploration, settlement and industrialization
of Canada is its legacy.
The remains of Shirreff’s Point House, circa
1819, lie near the day-use beach in Fitzroy Provincial
Park. Evidence of the failed canal development
of 1856 can be seen opposite the Park near Pontiac