Deschênes and its rapids have a rich and diverse history. The portage at the rapids was a stopping place for Aboriginal people on their trade routes along the river, and for the fur traders who followed their routes to the interior. Some of the earliest industrial developments in the Outaouais region were based on the Deschênes rapids: mills to produce lumber and grain, and one of Québec’s first hydroelectric plants, which lit the streets of Aylmer and powered an electric railway from Ottawa to Victoria Park in Aylmer. Signs of our history remain in the community – the old dam at the rapids, the garage for the railway cars (now an apartment building) and the “Hull Electric House” which housed offices for the railway company.
The Aylmer Heritage Association is working with the Deschênes Residents’ Association to ensure that our historical sites are recognised and protected.
Employees at Conroy's Sawmill in Deschênes, c. 1885, Archives nationales du Québec
In front of British American Nickel Plant, provided by Suzanne Lloyd
Hull Electric Railroad streetcar and car barn (now converted to apartments at corner of Lucerne and Vanier Roads).
Did you know that the combine harvester (left) was invented right here in Deschênes? Picture from the Aylmer Heritage Association photo gallery