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Ottawa River Timeline

13 000 BC - Continental glacier begins to melt

11 000 BC - Ottawa Valley is covered by an inland sea called the Champlain Sea

8 000 BC - Inland sea has receded

6 500 BC - Earliest evidence of human presence along the Ottawa River watershed. Palaeo-Indian Period named for the people who made distinctive long and slender stone lance points.

4 500 BC - Known as Archaic Period, development of culture referred to as the eastern Laurentian Culture that coincides with first appearance of polished stone and copper tools. Ottawa River gradually drops to traditional level and forests of white pine become mixed forests of hemlock, pine and hardwoods.

500 BC - A new period in the Ottawa Valley begins with the appearance of modified tempered clay used to produce durable cooking and storage vessels. Known as the Woodland Period, it lasts until the arrival of Europeans, circa 1600AD

1535 AD - Jacques Cartier climbs Mount Royal and sees a great river extending towards the western horizon.

1608 - Etienne Brulé is the first European to explore Ottawa River

1613 - Samuel de Champlain travels up-river to vicinity of present-day Pembroke. Champlain meets Tessouat, Chief of the “Algoumequins” (Algonquins) on today’s Morrison Island

1615 - Ottawa River is known as “Kit-chi’sippi” or Great River; later called “La Grande Rivière du Nord” by French explorers

1647 - Compagnie des Habitants allows 40 young men to trade privately with Native peoples provided they sell furs back to company

1652 - The Compagnie des Habitants trade policy is ignored; goods are treaded where most profitable by men known as “les coureurs de bois”

1659 - Radisson and Des Groseilliers travel up Ottawa River in search of new fur-trading territories

1670 - Francois de Laval, Bishop of Petra becomes seigneur of 25-league area called La Petite-Nation seigneury (near present-day Montebello QC)

1674 - First seigneury in what is now Ontario, granted to Francois Provost at Pointe L’Orignal

1686 - Chevalier de Troyes and party of 100 men heads north from Mattawa into unexplored region of Lake Temiskaming

1694 - Sieur de Coulonge spends winter of 1694-95 near mouth of Coulonge River; establishes first European settlement in area

1700 - Only evidence of civilization along river and tributaries were French forts for traders as protection from Iroquois

1701 - Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac took Ottawa River route on expedition to establish fort and trading post at Detroit

1713 - France signed the Treaty d’Utrecht, thus ceding the vast fur-rich territory of Rupert’s Land to Britain

1720 - Fort Temiscaminque constructed by French merchant

1728 - Last important military expedition sent up the Ottawa River by Government of New France. (Sent to stop harassment of French fur trading posts in Lake Michigan region).

1761 - Alexander Henry reached Lac des Chats as one of the first persons given permission by British army to explore the fur trade

1763 - English trading companies of Montreal take over fur trade and operate French posts including Des Chats Rapids, Allumette Island, mouth of Dumoine and Mattawa Rivers

1784 - Mattawa House built by Nor’Westers at junction of Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers

1793 - Alexander Mackenzie, accompanied by Native guides and French Canadian voyageurs, completes the first recorded crossing of continental America by a European. Route from Old Port of Quebec, Quebec to Bella Coola, British Columbia includes travel up Ottawa River to Mattawa River.

1800 - Wrights Town established on north side of River below Chaudieres Falls (present-day Gatineau).

1803 - Joseph Papineau becomes new seigneur of LaPetite-Nation seigneury. Manor House now part of Chateau Montebello property.

1806 - Philemon Wright builds square-timber raft; floats it down Ottawa River to Quebec City

1816 - Private companies build lock in western section of Vaudreuil canal providing controlled access to Ottawa River

1818 - Pointe Fortune Canal built opposite Carillon QC

1821 - Hudson Bay Company establishes Fort William Lac des Allumettes. Nicholas Garry, Deputy Governor of Hudson Bay Company, travels up Ottawa River on way to Rupert’s Land

1825 - Archibald McNab creates settlement near junction of Madawaska and Ottawa Rivers. Kinnell Lodge forms center of development for present-day Arnprior

1826 - Lieutenant-Colonial John By ordered to build navigable waterway between the Ottawa River and Kingston

1828 - Col. Peter White brought his family to Allumette Island area, cleared land and built cabin at present site of Pembroke. He became principal lumber merchant, and operated a general store.

1832 - Rideau Canal complete

1833 - Lady Colborne is first steamboat on Upper Ottawa, servicing between Aylmer and Chats Falls

1835 - George Bryson began lumbering operations with brother-in-law Herman Coulton on Coulonge River

1836 - First canal system along Ottawa consists of Grenville Canal, Chute a Blondeau Canal and Carillon Canal featuring 11 locks

1838 - Henry Bartlett, an English artist travelled up Ottawa River. He sketched the famous “Lac des Allumettes”

1840 - Construction of public lock at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue allows boats to by-pass natural obstacles and proceeds up into Ottawa River

1847 - Trade at Fort Coulonge declined to such an extent that HBC decided to close the post

1848 - University of Ottawa established

1852 - H.F. Bronson established firm at Falls of Chaudière in 1852 – first one in region to bring down logs from the Ottawa River above Pembroke and Des Joachims Rapids

1853 - Alexander Murray reported potential land adjoining the Bonnechere River from Golden Lake to Ottawa River

1855 - Bytown incorporated and becomes City of Ottawa

1856 - Minister of Agriculture began advertising campaign in Europe to attract immigrants to areas opened up by new roads

1857 - Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as capital city of United Province of Canada

1858 - Pembroke was incorporated as a village; German immigrants begin to arrive in Eastern Upper Canada

1859 - Peak of the square timber trade in Ontario
First group of Polish immigrants to Canada

1860s - Peak of square timber rafting on Ottawa River. Cribs consisting of 20 to 40 square timber pieces are assembled into rafts; each raft contains up to 200 cribs

1860 - J.R. Booth commissioned to supply lumber for roof of new Parliament buildings. Acquired timber reserves on Upper Ottawa River and tributaries

1862 - A Pembroke industrialist, McAllister, used water wheel in his mills to generate electrical current for sale

1863 - Timiskaming mission re-located to Ontario shore

1866 - Parliament Buildings completed

1867 - Canada’s Confederation

1868 - Limestone structure built at 24 Sussex Drive by local lumber baron. Property purchased in 1949 to become the official residence for Canadian Prime Ministers

1870 - The majority of family farms along the river had lost their main markets – the lumber camps

1882 - First steamer, “Mattawan” appears on Lake Temiskaming

1885 - Saw log production peaks along Ottawa River

1888 - E.B. Eddy constructs first pulp mill in eastern Canada at Gatineau

1889 - Charles Farr establishes “Humphrey’s Depot” on the shores of Lake Temiskaming. (Present day – Haileybury)

1896 - Notre-Dame-du-Nord founded with the arrival of first resident missionary

1900 - Great fire starts in Hull lumberyards and spreads to Ottawa, burning over 2000 buildings

1904 - Petawawa Military reserve established

1910 - Butter factory opened in Notre-Dame-du-Nord

1916 - Fire destroys Centre Block of Parliament Hill; only Library of Parliament remains standing

1922 - Fire destroys ninety per cent of the Town of Haileybury

1930 - Chats Falls hydroelectric generating station developed

1943 - Provinces of Ontario and Quebec sign agreement allocating undeveloped water power sites

1945 - First self-contained nuclear reaction in Canada initiated at Chalk River Laboratories

1956 - First nuclear power station established near Des Joachims

1965 - Mills along Ottawa River produce more than 80 million board feet of lumber

2003 - Committee formed to designate Ottawa River as part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System

2005 - City of Ottawa celebrates 150th anniversary