algonquin francais
about us

Fitzroy Harbour Rocks

The ecology of the Ottawa Valley has many unique features thanks to its geological history. The landscape’s many wind- and water-worn bluffs encompass a variety of characteristics. At Fitzroy, shales and limestones comprise the Rockcliffe formation along the upper bluff and small outcrops of the Ottawa formation are found on the flats.
Fitzroy Provincial Park protects a locally significant example of the southern mixed forest region featuring the white pine that drew the lumbermen into the Ottawa Valley. Some of the towering pines along the Terraces Trail are more than 100 years old while the ancient bur oaks along the Carp River have survived for three centuries. These forests provide habitat for a variety of woodpeckers, warblers and other songbirds, as well as deer, raccoons, chipmunks, snowshoe hares and red squirrels.
The Ottawa River Valley was not only an important transportation route for the First Nations, explorers, fur traders and lumbermen, its unique ecology dictates it a major transcontinental flyway for migratory birds, especially Canada geese and many species of ducks and shore birds.

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.