Settlement 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 Bay.