Sunday, 19 October 2014 19:21
We made it to Ottawa, the capital of Canada! I have some information about Victoria Island to share with you now! Remember, students voted in a recent Cast YOUR Vote for us to visit Victoria Island while we are in Ottawa. Thank you for choosing Victoria Island. It is an interesting place that is full of history.
The Ottawa River runs right past the city of Ottawa. This meant we paddled our canoe past the city. There are several sets of rapids on the river. We portaged around the first rapids, walking our canoe on the bike path. The next set of rapids was smaller, so we paddled through. Shortly after the rapids we could see the Parliament building and a dam. We had one more short portage to reach Victoria Island. Again, we walked along the bike path, pulling our canoe on wheels.
As we followed the quiet street downhill onto Victoria Island, we felt like we were leaving the traffic and bustle of the city behind and we were stepping back in time. There is green space on the island. There are also some old buildings and a place the First Peoples’ Village, where a group called Aboriginal Experiences teaches people about how Algonquin traditions and culture.
The view on Victoria Island, looking towards Parliament. The totem pole to the left came from British Columbia, Canada.
Victoria Island was the perfect place to launch our canoe when it was time to leave Ottawa. Before the dam was here, there was a large waterfall called Chaudière Falls that people portaged around. Long ago Algonquin people and later voyageurs portaged around Chaudière Falls here. Throughout history, the best place to portage has been Victoria Island.
Victoria Island was a meeting place for the Algonquin nation for thousands of years. The island was used as a place for gatherings, trading and celebrations. The Algonquin name for Victoria Island is Asinabka, which means Place of Glare Rock.
If you look at a map of Victoria Island and Ottawa, you can see that three rivers come together here. The Gatineau River enters the Ottawa River from the north and the Rideau River enters from the south. No wonder it was an important meeting place!
In the 1800s to 1900s, Victoria Island was used for the lumber industry. Imagine logs floating in massive rafts down the Ottawa River. A massive pulp mill operated nearby, turning logs into pulp for paper. Another type of industry happened on Victoria Island. This was the site of the Wilson Carbide Mill and an electric power generating station.
We launched our canoe from Victoria Island a couple days ago. We were joined by six other canoes. A dozen people and two dogs joined us on the water. It was a pleasure to have so many people join us as we paddled past the Parliament and other historic sites along the Ottawa River. These nice people gave us a tour of Ottawa from the water! After a few miles of paddling with company, it was time to say goodbye. Dave and I are on our own as we continue on to Montreal.