The Culture Trail: A public art trail to discover
Whether you’re a tourist or a resident, the downtown area has some surprises in store for you this summer! Follow the dots on the ground and discover the Culture Trail, a fun route where amazement awaits on every street corner.
What’s the Culture Trail?
It’s an urban art trail in downtown Gatineau lined with nearly 40 installations of all kinds: playful art, murals, sculpture, poetry, painting, photography, etc. This year, some 15 new works have been added to the artistic offering. The Trail showcases Quebec and Canadian artists, and includes a few works by international artists!
A platform for public art and artists, the Culture Trail is already in its sixth year, and it gets better every year. Not only is it a free activity, but the diversity of works appeals to just about everyone!
A pathway to be discovered in more than one way
On foot, by bike or even on a scooter, choose the mode of transportation that suits you best. You can start at any point along the trail, but to make sure you don’t miss anything, we recommend starting at the tourist office, where the first work is waiting for you. Take the opportunity to consult the red marker and pick up a map of the route (the map is also available online). You’ll find descriptions of the works near each installation and on the Culture Trail web page.
What’s nice about it is that you can explore the Culture Trail at your own pace and according to your own interests. Whether you want to combine the walk with a stop for a meal or just take the time to admire each work, the itinerary is up to you.
Seeing Old Hull differently
The sun is shining as I cycle along the path that runs alongside Brewery Creek. I have the Vieux-Hull app (available from the App Store and Google Play) open on my phone, handy for locating myself and the various points of interest along the way.
Throughout the morning, wide-eyed and curious, I set off to discover each installation. I follow the dots on the ground and the signs along the way pointing me to my next destination. Descriptions of the works can also be found near each installation.
I start my tour at the Maison du tourisme tourist office, where Lisa Creskey’s Dans le nid is located. A few steps away is La maison d’Alzire, not far from the Canadian Museum of History with its impressive architecture and beautiful river views. Further on, as I walk along Hôtel-de-Ville Street, I come across One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, a work by Bordalo II made entirely of recycled materials, as imposing as its message is powerful. This colourful installation is one of my favourite works.
A few minutes later, I sit down at a table to cool off by the fountain, in the middle of which shines Mathieu Fecteau’s work Je t’appellerai bateau-feu bateau-lumière. The walls around me are covered by the vibrant colours and patterns of Animosités (painted by five artists: Maria Rosa Szychowska, Marin Mitrasinovic, Philippe Landry, Anthony Léger and Mathieu Strike Désilets), which depicts animals on the verge of extinction.
Next, I stroll along Laval Street, where I stop to admire C’est la vie, a series of vibrant murals in bright colours illustrating the characteristic elements of Old Hull over the years. Place Laval has been completely transformed into a lively, colourful gathering place. As I cross Place Aubry, I look up and marvel at Des ailes pour notre région, a work presented by ICI Ottawa-Gatineau and designed by Samuelle Desjardins. Hundreds of multicoloured butterflies shimmer in the sun, seeming to flutter in the breeze.
Des ailes pour notre région, a work presented by ICI Ottawa-Gatineau and designed by Samuelle Desjardins
A short detour takes me to Eddy Street, where several original new works have been installed on both sides of the street. On Montcalm Street, I fall in love with Brigades, an eye-catchingly colourful building painted by Samuelle Desjardins, Geneviève L. Richard and Sharon MacDuff. Finally, I end my journey near La Filature, around which several works are clustered. La Filature is home to the AXENÉO7 artists’ centre, where you can meet cultural mediators and some of the artists who contributed to the installations.
So much to offer
Every street corner reveals its own surprises. Whether you’re passionate about literature, art, photography or history, the Culture Trail has a lot to offer! To complement your tour of the Culture Trail, we suggest you also discover the Poetry Trail, where short excerpts of poems by local writers are displayed on plaques attached to the facades of commercial buildings. For a more auditory experience, the audio tour L’histoire en flammes (in French only) tells the story of important people from the days of the devastating Hull–Ottawa fire of 1900. Audio and video capsules, The Old Hull Chronicles, are also available to accompany your visit.
Several shows and activities, including public readings, interactive chalk art and exhibitions, will be held in downtown Gatineau this summer. Check out the program to make sure you don’t miss anything!
Brigades, by Samuelle Desjardins, Geneviève L. Richard and Sharon MacDuff
For maximum enjoyment!
Once you’ve walked the length of the Culture Trail, your visit is far from over, as the Trail is close to a variety of attractions! Whatever your interests, there’s no shortage of options: visit a museum, discover local flavours on a patio, or browse the nearby stores and markets.
Make the most of your experience and share your favourites on social media using the hashtag #CultureTrail! The works I’ve mentioned are only a few of the many along the route. Until the end of the summer, the Culture Trail offers a memorable experience to enjoy with friends and family, as a couple or on your own.
And after a pleasant day in the sun, what could be nicer than a refreshing ice cream? Check out our blog post about local dairy bars.
The Culture Trail is a project of the City of Gatineau, in association with Vision Centre-Ville Gatineau (VCV), the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec (MCCQ) and Outaouais Tourism.