The Lièvre River runs 330 kilometres from its source in Head Lake before pouring into the Ottawa River, of which it is one of the main tributaries. Long before the European settlers arrived, the Weskarini, who mainly lived in what today is known as the vallée de la Lièvre, would travel downriver to spend summers on the sand bars of the Ottawa River. The valley so abounded with venison that by the early 17th century the Lièvre River had become a trade route for the coureurs des bois and American Indians who were involved in the fur trade.
Buckingham would be shaped by the Wabos Sipi—the Algonquin term for hare river, or the Lièvre River—so named because of this mammal's abundance in the region. While to the voyageurs the falls may have represented obstacles to navigation, to the 19th century industrialists they represented a source of hydraulic power. This source of energy gave birth to an industry, an upper middle class, a social, religious and commercial life, in short a community. And that community is Buckingham, a city of energy.
Incorporated as a village in 1855, and later in 1890 as a city, Buckingham is now a sector of Gatineau, located approximately 30 kilometres northeast of the downtown of the Outaouais metropolis. Its rich heritage, which bears witness to not only its industrial past but also its social and religious diversity, its successes and dramas, lends Buckingham a picturesque charm shaped by its interlacing waterways and forests.
Coordination: Sonia Blouin, Ville de Gatineau
Research and writing: Nathalie Poirier, Historian
Collaboration: Michel Riberdy, Buckingham Historical Society
Translation: Katalin Poor, Traduction Al Punto
Revision: Michel Bédard, Ville de Gatineau
Graphic design: Eskalad communication design
Photos: Ville de Gatineau
Photos 01, 02 and 12: Collection Jean-Bastien
Photo 05b: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Résidence Alex McLaren à Buckingham, vers 1920, Centre d'archives de l'Outaouais, fonds Rodolphe-Léger (P28, D350)
Gatineau is the fourth largest city in the province of Quebec with close to 285,000 inhabitants.