Lumber and Power
In 1796 Nathaniel Treadwell purchased the Seigneurie of Longueil. In 1803 he sold some of this land plus two islands to fellow American Thomas Mears who operated Canada’s first paper mill at St-André d’Argenteuil. Along with Dr. David Pattee and a certain Mr. Shuter, Mears built a sawmill between the two islands and operated it using power from a hydroelectric dam which was built across the ‘Chenail écarté’ [remote Chenail].
George Hamilton, an Irishman from Lower Canada, purchased Mears’s business in 1808. According to Canada’s first official census in 1871, Hamilton’s Hawkesbury Mills were the largest in the country. More than 1000 employees produced as much as 70 000 board feet of lumber per day. Red and white pine from the forests of la Rouge, Gatineau and Mattawa was shipped to Liverpool. In 1888 the death of the last surviving member of the Hamilton family marked the decline of the lumber industry in the region.
Between 1959 and 1964, Hydro expropriated 14 streets, 80 houses and several other buildings at the Chenail in order to build the Carillon Dam. The Maison de l’Ile and Confederation Park are the only remaining vestiges of the community’s industrious past. In 1995 the Maison de l’Ile was designated a historic and architectural heritage site.