Hull, Quebec

Last updated
Sector within City of Gatineau
Hull sunset.jpg
Sunset on the Hull District
Coordinates: 45°25′43″N75°42′48″W / 45.42861°N 75.71333°W / 45.42861; -75.71333 Coordinates: 45°25′43″N75°42′48″W / 45.42861°N 75.71333°W / 45.42861; -75.71333
CountryFlag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada
ProvinceFlag of Quebec.svg  Quebec
Region Outaouais
RCM Gatineau
MergedJanuary 1, 2002 with Gatineau
  Change ~2001
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EST)
Area codes 819, 873
Access RoutesQuebec Autoroute 5.svg A-5 Quebec Autoroute 50.svg A-50

Hull is the central business district and oldest neighbourhood of the city of Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. It is located on the west bank of the Gatineau River and the north shore of the Ottawa River, directly opposite Ottawa. As part of the Canadian National Capital Region, it contains offices for over 20,000 civil servants. It is named after Kingston upon Hull in England.



Early history

Painting of Hull by Thomas Burrowes, with the Chaudiere Falls and Bytown in background, 1830 Hull, (Lower Canada), on the Ottawa River; at the Chaudier (sic) Falls, 1830.jpg
Painting of Hull by Thomas Burrowes, with the Chaudière Falls and Bytown in background, 1830
Hull from Ottawa, 1896 Hull, Quebec from Ottawa - 1896.jpg
Hull from Ottawa, 1896
Public execution in Hull, 1902 Execution of Stanislaus Lacroix in Hull, Quebec, Canada 1902.jpg
Public execution in Hull, 1902
Corner of Main and Bridge Streets in Hull, 1905 Main & Bridge Street, Hull, Quebec (1905).jpg
Corner of Main and Bridge Streets in Hull, 1905
Hull, 1913 Hull, Quebec (1913).jpg
Hull, 1913

Hull is a former municipality in the Province of Quebec and the location of the oldest non-native settlement in the National Capital Region. It was founded on the north shore of the Ottawa River in 1800 by Philemon Wright at the portage around the Chaudière Falls just upstream (or west) from where the Gatineau and Rideau Rivers flow into the Ottawa. Wright brought his family, five other families and twenty-five labourers [1] and a plan to establish an agriculturally based community to what was a mosquito-infested wilderness. But soon after, Wright and his family took advantage of the large lumber stands and became involved in the timber trade. Originally the place was named Wright's Town, [2] and the name Wrightville survives as the name of a neighbourhood in Hull.

The Gatineau River, like the Ottawa River, was very much the preserve of the draveurs, people who would use the river to transport logs from lumber camps until they arrived downriver. (The Gatineau River flows south into the Ottawa River which flows east to the St Lawrence River near Montreal.) The log-filled Ottawa River, as viewed from Hull, appeared on the back of the Canadian one-dollar bill until it was replaced by a dollar coin (the "loonie") in 1987, and the last of the dwindling activity of the draveurs on these rivers ended a few years later.

Ottawa was founded later, as the terminus of the Rideau Canal built under the command of LCol. John By as part of fortifications and defences constructed after the War of 1812. Originally named Bytown, Ottawa did not become the Canadian capital until the mid-19th century after the original parliament in Montreal was torched by a rioting mob of English-speaking citizens on April 25, 1849. Its greater distance from the Canada–US border also left the new parliament less vulnerable to foreign attack.

Nothing remains of the original 1800 settlement; the downtown Vieux-Hull sector was razed by a destructive fire in 1900 which also destroyed the original pont des Chaudières (Chaudière Bridge), a road bridge which has since been rebuilt to join Ottawa to Hull at Victoria Island.

1917 to 2000

Rue Principale in Hull, 1920 Rue Principale, Hull, Quebec (1920).jpg
Rue Principale in Hull, 1920
Hull from Parliament Hill, c. 1923-1924 Hull, Quebec, from Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ont..jpg
Hull from Parliament Hill, c. 1923-1924
Hull as seen from Ottawa in 1938 View of Hull from Parliament Hill 1938.JPG
Hull as seen from Ottawa in 1938

Hull was noted for its nightlife during the years 1917 to 2000.

Prohibition on the sale of alcohol in Ontario began in 1916, and continued until the repeal of the Ontario Temperance Act in 1927. Hull's proximity to Ontario made it a convenient place for people from Ottawa to consume alcohol, and a sharp increase in arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct was noted in Hull in 1917. As a result, in May 1918, Hull enacted local laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol. This led to a dramatic increase in bootlegging in Hull, and the town gained the nickname le Petit Chicago, because its per capita crime rates were similar to those in Chicago. [3] In 1919, a local plebiscite repealed Hull's prohibition laws, causing Hull's drinking establishments to once again thrive as a result of the continued prohibition in neighbouring Ontario. [3] Most of Hull's bars were conveniently located near the Alexandra Bridge to Ottawa, [4] which a local newspaper called, "the bridge of the thousand thirsts". [5]

Hull's Chief of Police stated in 1924 that the cause of Hull's lawlessness was its proximity to Ottawa, and a report published in 1925 found that visitors to Hull accounted for up to 90 percent of its bar patrons, as well as the vast majority of those arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. [3] A newspaper in the 1920s stated, "these taverns, which are Hull's sole attraction, are not bar rooms, but barn-like, dim rooms in old buildings". [5]

During the early 1940swhen bars in Ontario closed at 1 am and bars in Quebec closed at 3 amresidents of Ontario continued to take advantage of Quebec's more liberal policies on alcohol control. [4] An official inquiry in the 1940s found that gambling houses and illegal bars in Hull were receiving protection from corrupt local politicians, who also encouraged police not to arrest prostitutes. [5]

During World War II, Hull, along with various other regions within Canada, such as the Saguenay, Lac Saint-Jean, and Île Sainte-Hélène, had Prisoner-of-war camps. [6] Hull's prison was simply labelled with a number and remained unnamed just like Canada's other war prisons. [6] [7] The prisoners of war (POWs) were sorted and classified into categories by nationality and civilian or military status. [6] In this camp, POWs were mostly Italian and German nationals. During the Conscription Crisis of 1944 the prison eventually included Canadians who had refused conscription. [6] Also, prisoners were forced into hard labour which included farming the land and lumbering. [6]

The Macdonald-Cartier Bridge was constructed in 1965, pushing many of Hull's bars to streets north. A large office complex known as Place du Portage began construction in the 1970s, uprooting many businesses along what was once the town's main commercial area, and displacing some 4,000 residents. [4] [8]

The disco era of the 1970s ushered in new prosperity for Hull's nightlife, and "Viva Disco" was named in Playboy magazine's top ten in North America. [5]

In the early 1980s, Hull City Council began encouraging the expansion of bars in the downtown area. Bars in Hull continued to remain open two additional hours compared to bars in Ontario, and some bars offered a shuttle service from Ottawa. [4]

By 1985, Hull had the highest crime rate in Quebec, [5] with offences in the bar district including murder, drug dealing, rowdiness, violence, noise, vandalism and drunkenness. [4]

The Canadian Museum of History relocated nearby in 1989, and politicians in Hull expressed concern about the city's image. Official committees in Hull weighed the job creation and profitability of Hull's nightlife, against the costs of policing and cleanup. A "zero tolerance" campaign began in 1990, which involved undercover policing, the revocation of liquor licences, and a public awareness campaign to inform young drinkers in Ontario that disorderly behaviour would not be tolerated in Hull. Soon, police in Hull were aggressively towing illegally parked cars, and individuals caught urinating in public were fined as much as $400. [4]

By 2000, Hull had spent considerable resources making the downtown more attractive, and the decaying old core of Hull was transformed by demolition and replacement with a series of large office complexes. [8] [9] Most of the bars on the Hull strip were gone, and were replaced by restaurants, cafés and stores. The city also provided funds to businesses that wanted to renovate. This resulted in a 75 percent drop in crime in the former bar district from 1994 to 2000, and the main street "was no longer attracting large crowds looking for a fight". [9] Prostitution, however, was not affected. Mayor Yves Ducharme expressed a desire to attract residents back to downtown Hull, and encouraged the construction of studio and bachelor apartments on Promenade du Portage, across from the federal government buildings. [9]

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney wrote of Hull:

The town [Ottawa] visibly sagged by ten at night, just in time for residents seeking relief from the stifling boredom to cross the bridge to Hull, Quebec, where nightclubs, dancehalls, bars, and a few great restaurants provided sanctuary and stimulation. [10]


In 2002, the Parti Québécois, leading the provincial government, merged the cities of Hull, Gatineau, Aylmer, Buckingham and Masson-Angers into one city. Although Hull was the oldest and most central of the merged cities, the name Gatineau was chosen for the new city. The main reasons given were that Gatineau had more inhabitants, it was the name of the former county, the valley, the hills, the park and the main river within the new city limits: thus its name was less restrictive than Hull. Some argued that the French name of Gatineau was more appealing than a name from England to most French-speaking residents. Since the former city of Hull represents a large area distinct from what was formerly known as Gatineau, to be officially correct and specific many people say "vieux secteur Hull" (the former Hull part of town) when speaking of it. The name "Hull" was often informally used to refer to the whole urban area on the northern shore of the river facing Ottawa, so much so that the National Capital Region was often referred to as "Ottawa-Hull", especially in Quebec outside the immediate area.

In 2004, there was a referendum to decide whether Hull would remain in Gatineau. The majority of those who voted in Hull voted against the deamalgamation, and the status quo prevailed.


Hull is located directly northwest of the confluence of the Gatineau and Ottawa rivers.

Navigation beyond Ottawa-Hull on the Ottawa River is still difficult as watercraft must be removed from the Ottawa River due to obstacles posed by rapids such as the Rapides des Chaudières or "Kettle Rapids".


Prior to amalgamation in 2002, Hull's population was 66,246 (2001 Census of Canada). According to the Canada 2011 Census, Hull had a population of 69,004. [11]

Approximately 80% of residents speak French as their first language and about 9% English as their first language (2001 Census of Canada).


Commission Scolaire des Portages-de-l'Outaouais (CSPO) operates Francophone public schools.

Western Québec School Board operates Anglophone public schools.


Hull now depends primarily on the civil service as an economic mainstay. A number of federal and provincial government departments are located here. The policy of the federal government to distribute federal jobs on both sides of the Ottawa River led to the construction of several massive office towers to house federal civil servants in the 1970s and 80s; the largest of these are Place du Portage and Terrasses de la Chaudière, occupying part of what had been the downtown core of Hull.

Two paper mills (Scott Paper and the E. B. Eddy division of Domtar) still retain some industrial facilities on the Ottawa River in the centre of Hull, Quebec.

Hull is also the home to the Casino du Lac-Leamy and to the Canadian Museum of History directly opposite Parliament Hill. Hull is also Outaouais's cultural centre.

Place du Portage, Place du Centre, Scott Paper, and Museum of History along the Ottawa River in Hull

See also

Related Research Articles

Gatineau City in Quebec, Canada

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Bytown is the former name of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was founded on September 26, 1826, incorporated as a town on January 1, 1850, and superseded by the incorporation of the City of Ottawa on January 1, 1855. The founding was marked by a sod turning, and a letter from Governor General Dalhousie which authorized Lieutenant Colonel John By to divide up the town into lots. Bytown came about as a result of the construction of the Rideau Canal and grew largely due to the Ottawa River timber trade. Bytown's first mayor was John Scott, elected in 1847.

Alexandra Bridge

The Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge, also known as the Alexandra Bridge or Interprovincial Bridge, is a steel truss cantilever bridge spanning the Ottawa River between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. In addition to carrying vehicle traffic, a shared use pathway on the bridge for pedestrians and cyclists is maintained by the National Capital Commission.

Aylmer, Quebec Sector within City of Gatineau in Quebec, Canada

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Outaouais Administrative region in Quebec, Canada

Outaouais ; is a region of western Quebec, Canada. It includes the city of Gatineau, the Pontiac region, and the town of Maniwaki, and is located on the north side of the Ottawa River opposite Canada's capital, Ottawa. It has a land area of 30,808.69 square kilometres (11,895.30 sq mi) and its population was 382,604 inhabitants as of the 2016 Census.

National Capital Region (Canada) Metropolitan area in Canada

The National Capital Region, also referred to as Canada's Capital Region and Ottawa–Gatineau, is an official federal designation for the Canadian capital of Ottawa, Ontario, the neighbouring city of Gatineau, Quebec, and surrounding urban and rural communities. The term National Capital Region is often used to describe the Ottawa–Gatineau metropolitan area, although the official boundaries of the NCR do not precisely correspond to the statistical metropolitan area.

Terrasses de la Chaudière Complex of government office buildings in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

Les Terrasses de la Chaudière is a complex of government office buildings in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. The complex was built in 1978 as part of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's initiative to see more federal workers based in the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. It was built by developer Robert Campeau and then leased to the government. This arrangement caused some controversy as Campeau had close links to the governing Liberals. The complex was named after the nearby Chaudière Falls in the Ottawa River.

LeBreton Flats Neighbourhood in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

LeBreton Flats is a neighbourhood in Somerset Ward in central Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It lies to the west of Centretown neighbourhood, and to the north of Centretown West. The Ottawa River forms the western and northern limit, with the western side being a wider area of the river known as Nepean Bay.

Chaudière Falls

The Chaudière Falls, also known as the Kana:tso or Akikodjiwan Falls, are a set of cascades and waterfall in the centre of the Ottawa-Gatineau metropolitan area in Canada where the Ottawa River narrows between a rocky escarpment on both sides of the river. The location is just west of the Chaudière Bridge and Booth-Eddy streets corridor, northwest of the Canadian War Museum at LeBreton Flats and adjacent to the historic industrial E. B. Eddy complex. The islands surrounding the Chaudière Falls, counter-clockwise, are Chaudière Island, Albert Island, little Coffin Island was just south of Albert Island but is now submerged, Victoria Island and Amelia Island,, Philemon Island was originally called the Peninsular Village by the Wrights but became an island when the timber slide was built in 1829 it is now fused to south shore of City of Gatineau, and Russell Island, now submerged, was at the head of the Falls before the Ring dam was built. The falls are about 60 metres (200 ft) wide and drop 15 metres (49 ft). The area around the falls was once heavily industrialized, especially in the 19th century, driving growth of the surrounding cities.

Chaudière Bridge

The Chaudière Bridge crosses the Ottawa River about 1 km (0.6 mi) west of Parliament Hill, joining the communities of Gatineau, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario, linking Rue Eddy in the Hull sector of Gatineau and Booth Street in Ottawa. The bridge is one portion of multiple spans constituting the Chaudière Crossing, which still contain portions of the first bridge linking Ottawa with Hull dating back to the time of Colonel By in the 1820s.

Boulevard Maisonneuve

Boulevard Maisonneuve is an important arterial in the heart of Downtown Gatineau, Quebec. It serves as connector route between the Portage Bridge from Ottawa to Quebec Autoroutes 5 and 50 as well as Boulevard Fournier towards the Gatineau sector of the city, northern portions of the Hull sector and the northern east suburbs. It also gives access to the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge and the Alexandra Bridge.

Rue Laurier is a main street located in the heart of the City of Gatineau, Quebec. It starts at Rue Eddy and ends at Rue Dussault.

Portage Bridge

The Portage Bridge crosses the Ottawa River just down-river from the Chaudière Bridge, joining the communities of Gatineau, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario. It links Laurier Street and Alexandre-Taché Boulevard in the Hull sector of Gatineau and Wellington Street at the Garden of the Provinces and Territories in Ottawa, crossing Victoria Island on the way.

Place du Portage Office building complex in Gatineau, Quebec

Place du Portage is a large office complex in the Hull sector of Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, situated along Boulevard Maisonneuve and facing the Ottawa River. It is owned and occupied by the Federal Government of Canada.

The history of Ottawa, capital of Canada, was shaped by events such as the construction of the Rideau Canal, the lumber industry, the choice of Ottawa as the location of Canada's capital, as well as American and European influences and interactions. By 1914, Ottawa's population had surpassed 100,000 and today it is the capital of a G7 country whose metropolitan population exceeds one million.

Ottawa River timber trade

The Ottawa River timber trade, also known as the Ottawa Valley timber trade or Ottawa River lumber trade, was the nineteenth century production of wood products by Canada on areas of the Ottawa River destined for British and American markets. It was the major industry of the historical colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada and it created an entrepreneur known as a lumber baron. The trade in squared timber and later sawed lumber led to population growth and prosperity to communities in the Ottawa Valley, especially the city of Bytown. The product was chiefly red and white pine. The industry lasted until around 1900 as both markets and supplies decreased.


  1. Taylor, John H. (1986). Ottawa: An Illustrated History. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, Publishers. p. 11.
  2. "CityScapes: Ottawa". Canadian Directories: Who Was Where. Library and Archives Canada. 2008-11-10. Archived from the original on 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  3. 1 2 3 Rennie, Eric (March 2011). "Crossing the Line: Canada's Capital Region in the Prohibition Era" (PDF). Capstone Seminar Series.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Hier, Sean P. (2011). Panoptic Dreams: Streetscape Video Surveillance in Canada. University of British Columbia Press.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Aubry, Jack (October 7, 1985). "History Shows Corking Hull's Nightlife Not Always Easy". Ottawa Citizen.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Tremblay, Robert, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, et all. "Histoires oubliées – Interprogrammes : Des prisonniers spéciaux" Interlude. Aired: 20 July 2008, 14h47 to 15h00.
  7. Note: See also List of POW camps in Canada.
  8. 1 2 Kalman, Harold; Roaf, John (1983). Exploring Ottawa: An Architectural Guide to the Nation's Capital . University of Toronto Press. p.  88.
  9. 1 2 3 "Hull Fights the Doughnut Syndrome". CBC News. Jun 23, 2000.
  10. Mulroney, Brian (2011). Memoirs. Random House.
  11. Population calculated by combining Census Tracts 5050511.02, 5050511.01, 5050508.00, 5050509.00, 5050510.01, 5050510.02, 5050504.03, 5050504.04, 5050504.05, 5050504.01, 5050506.00, 5050505.00, 5050503.00, 5050507.00, 5050501.00, 5050500.00, 5050502.00