Parc des Chutes Coulonge
Chutes Coulonge

History

Park History

Parc des Chutes Coulonge is a site of exceptional natural beauty and great historical significance. Home to spectacular waterfalls, the park has played a crucial role in the history of the region’s forestry industry.

The park’s history dates back to the 19th century, when it served as a key site for the log drive, a method of transporting wood where cut logs were sent down rivers to sawmills. The Coulonge Falls, with their impressive height, represented a major obstacle to this practice. To overcome this, a wooden diversion channel was built to allow the safe passage of logs around the falls.

Over the years, the site has been the scene of numerous technological developments and innovations in the field of log driving, contributing significantly to the local economy. After the log-driving era, the site was transformed into a recreation and historical interpretation park, offering visitors the opportunity to discover the fascinating history of the region and the natural beauty of the falls and surrounding area.

Today, Parc des Chutes Coulonge attracts visitors not only for its historical significance, but also for its many outdoor activities, such as zip-lining, tree adventure courses, hiking and nature observation. The park strives to preserve its natural and cultural heritage while providing an educational and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages.

The transformation of Parc des Chutes Coulonge into a major tourist attraction demonstrates the community’s commitment to preserving its history while looking to the future, offering a place where nature, history and adventure meet.

Les Chutes Coulonge
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Interesting facts

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The Logging Industry at the Chutes

When the supply of timber for ship masts was interrupted by the American Revolution and Napoleon’s wars, England turned to Canada for raw materials. In 1800, Philemon Wright left Boston for Ottawa and was the first to ship a raft full of squared timber to Quebec City, using the Ottawa River as a transportation route.

The honourable George Bryson Sr. and his descendants were the forerunners of the development of the forest industry in the Pontiac. Born in 1813, Mr. Bryson was 8 years old when he emigrated to Canada from Paisley, Scotland. In 1845, he married Robina Cobb, whom he had met on a first trip to Canada.

In late 1830, early 1840, small lumber companies were bought up by large producers. At this time, Mr. Bryson left Lanark County and came to Pontiac County to make his fortune. He set up shop at the entrance to the Coulonge River and acquired the cutting rights to thousands of acres of land surrounding the falls. This was the era of squared timber, when the huge pines of our region were in great demand. These trees were cut into 18-meter (60-foot) lengths, then squared with large axes. 

History of forestry in the Pontiac

The natural obstacle posed by the falls hampered the transport of logs, and it was to bypass them that a wooden slide was built where the cement slide stands today. It measured some 915 meters (3,000 feet) in length and extended from the head of the falls to the end of the canyon.

Original Chutes on the Coulonge River

Log Slide

The first slide was built of wood and measured 915 meters (3000 feet) in length  it was hooked to the rock by anchors, chains and rings, supported on wooden beams. The use of this slide made it possible to protect 18 meters (60 feet) of white pine squared timber that would otherwise have been damaged by their passage through the great waterfall and canyon. The river water carried the logs along their journey.

Over the years, the wooden slide quietly deteriorated, so much so that it had to be dismantled. To replace it, another concrete slide was built in 1923 this one. Shorter, it measured some 91.5 metres (300 feet) in length. It was used until 1982, the year of the last log drive on the Coulonge. 

coulonge falls

Self-Guided Tour

The Parc des Chutes Coulonge self-guided tour offers an immersive exploration of Quebec nature and the history of the log drive, allowing visitors to discover beauty and heritage at their own pace.