The Grand Chemins d’eau Expedition

Published on May 9 2024

Do you have the makings of a great captain? The Outaouais invites you to navigate by land through the Chemins d’eau, a tourist route that winds along the Ottawa River from Petite Nation to Gatineau, traversing the Collines-de-l’Outaouais and Pontiac RCMs as well. A mix of nature, heritage and culture, the attractions along this route will delight everyone, not just sailors! Climb aboard your boat on wheels and discover the key sights of the region!

Don’t worry—sea legs are optional, but a thirst for discovery is a must! Head out and explore this tourist route for a road trip to remember!

A tailor-made itinerary!

Before taking the helm, you should know that Chemins d’eau allows you to put together an itinerary based on your interests and preferred length of time. Have a look at our updated map to prepare for your trip! Prefer to go with the flow? Here’s the tour we recommend!

Boarding in Petite Nation

In Petite Nation, history and heritage feature prominently thanks to Louis-Joseph Papineau. A major political figure and the lord of Petite Nation, he left his mark throughout the region. Visit the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site, located in Montebello and overlooking the Ottawa River, and learn more about life in the 19th century.

This is a perfect opportunity to explore the town of Montebello and its many foodie spots while taking the Montebello Heritage Tour. Go a little out of the way and visit Parc Oméga, one of the region’s top attractions, to get a close-up view of Canadian wildlife in their natural habitat. To stretch your legs, head to Parc national de Plaisance, a favourite destination of birdwatchers and outdoor enthusiasts. With cycling paths, walking trails, canoeing and kayaking routes, many different activities can be enjoyed here. Another attraction for active adventurers is Parc des Montagnes Noires de Ripon. The views at the top of the observation tower and from the lookout point make it well worth visiting!

Next, drop anchor in Gatineau! On the agenda: museums, gourmet dining, heritage and a stroll along the Ottawa River. Start your expedition on a high note with a visit to the Canadian Museum of History. Trace human history through various exhibitions that combine social phenomena and personal accounts. While there, admire the renowned architecture of the museum, located on the banks of the Ottawa River! To complete your urban exploration of the river, many attractions offer opportunities to get on the water. Enjoy a river cruise with Lady Dive Tours, Aqua-Taxi, Paul’s Boat Line, Ottawa Yacht Tours and pontoon rentals with Ürban Rentals.

To clear your mind, take a walk down Jacques-Cartier Street. Running alongside the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers, this street is set up to highlight the historical, cultural and natural heritage of the region’s rivers. Have any energy left? Les Relais Plein Air offers water sport and outdoor activity equipment rentals. Over in Aylmer, the Symmes Inn Museum is a real treat for history buffs.

Set sail for the Collines-de-l’Outaouais

Now it’s time to cast off and venture into the Collines-de-l’Outaouais RCM! To begin, take a stroll at the Mackenzie King Estate through the beautiful gardens of this historic site. Continue your tour by stopping at the Champlain Lookout, with Gatineau Park’s emblematic scenic viewpoint. From there, you’ll be able to appreciate the lush natural beauty and vastness of the territory. Good to know: vehicle access is limited, so check the schedule online before heading there or ride to the top by bike!

Next, head to Laflèche Cave. History is front and centre in the exploration of the cave, because nothing tells more about the history of a place than the depths of the earth. This tour is not only fascinating, but cool in both senses of the word!

Top off your visit with a stop at Éco-Odyssée Nature Park, one of the region’s main attractions. The water maze lets you get close to wildlife and admire nature from different types of watercraft.

Mooring in the Pontiac

The final destination is coming into view: the Pontiac region! If you’re up for a bit of a physical challenge, Chutes Coulonge Adventure Park has everything you could want with its giant ziplines traversing the canyon, its wilderness obstacle course and its Via Ferrata along the Coulonge River. Also, take the time to learn about the history of the Coulonge River log drivers by taking the self-guided walk. Next, visit the George Bryson House to learn more about the family that lived there and about the history of the Pontiac region. What’s more, the longest covered bridge in Quebec is located right across the road!

What’s the top-rated activity in the Pontiac region? Braving the river on a rafting excursion! With Rafting Momentum, you’re in for a thrilling experience. For those preferring a more relaxing outdoor activity, Aventure Hélianthe fits the bill! Visitors can enjoy camping, axe-throwing, floating lazily down the river or try an adventure package.

An enriching experience on the Chemins d’eau!

The Chemins d’eau Podcast, which lets you discover the heritage of the Outaouais, is the perfect source of entertainment during your road trip. Find the episodes online and continue the experience with additional episodes available at the seven terminals along the Chemins d’eau route. Also, discover historical video clips highlighting figures that had an impact on the region, as well as legendary places located along the Outaouais’s rivers!

Now you’re really ready to plan your Chemins d’eau expedition! Have a look at our theme tours for even more itinerary suggestions.

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