8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Gatineau

Known as Hull until 2002, Gatineau is a French-speaking city located just across the Ottawa River from the city of Ottawa. There is a fine view from Jacques-Cartier Park over to the Parliament buildings, the Rideau slopes, and other major features of Ottawa. And the city's large Gatineau Park has been a favorite with Canadian prime ministers such as William Lyon Mackenzie King.

First Nations people lived in the Gatineau area long before the first European settlement. The first French explorers, such as Champlain, arrived in 1613 and 1615, to be followed by woodsmen and other adventurers in search of furs. Around 1800, the American, Philemon Wright, began farming here using the slopes of the Chaudière and founded a colony which he named Hull after his parents' birthplace in England. He sent a consignment of timber by raft to Québec, and thus became the founder of a major industry.

1 Canadian Museum of History

Ottawa riverfront, home to the Canadian Museum of Civilization
Ottawa riverfront, home to the Canadian Museum of Civilization

The magnificent Canadian Museum of History stands on the Gatineau riverbank, opposite Ottawa's Parliament buildings, and a wall of windows looks out to Parliament Hill. Its architect, Douglas Cardinal, wanted its flowing lines to call to mind the immensity and diversity of the Canadian landscape. The museum's collections hold more than a million artifacts and some are on display in the First Peoples Hall, Canada Hall, and Grand Hall. There is particular emphasis on the longhouses and totem poles of Pacific Northwest First Nations. A seven-story IMAX screen presents always-changing, eye-opening films.

Address: 100 Laurier Street, Gatineau

2 Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park
Gatineau Park

Part of the Canadian Shield, Gatineau Park is a hilly woodland and lakeland district near the Gatineau River. Some places are set aside for outdoor activities such as camping, jogging, walking, riding, swimming, fishing, cycling, and downhill and cross-country skiing. Footpaths through the southern part of the park make for an especially beautiful walk in the autumn, as the leaves change colors. There are also a number of sightseeing attractions within the park. Lusk Cave is a marble cave that is open to the public for underground tours, while the Mackenzie King Estate is the grand historic residence of the former prime minister.

Address: 33 Scott Rd, Old Chelsea

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3 Canadian Children's Museum

Canadian Children's Museum
Canadian Children's Museum QUOI Media Group / photo modified

In this enchanting museum within the Canadian Museum of History, children can discover the world's most remote corners. Exhibits have a strong spirit of play and invention with many hands-on and interactive features.

Address: 100 Laurier St, Gatineau

4 Mackenzie King Estate

Mackenzie King Estate
Mackenzie King Estate

The country estate of Canada's longest-serving prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, can be found in the heart of Gatineau Park. The estate includes several small homes on a lakeshore, including the main house, Moorside. Visitors can enjoy tea or a meal in the dining room and see items from the Mackenzie-King days. The romantic gardens have picturesque ruins, which MacKenzie-King relocated to the estate after the Canadian Parliament building in Ottawa burned down in 1916.

5 Editor's Pick Belvédère Champlain

Belvédère Champlain
Belvédère Champlain cjuneau / photo modified

The Belvédère Champlain, about 26 kilometers from the Gatineau Park entrance, provides a wonderful view over the Gatineau hills. Especially in autumn, the orange-and-golden slopes cut a sharp contrast as they meet the rolling farmland in the Ottawa and Gatineau river valleys.

6 Jacques Cartier Park

Jacques Cartier Park
Jacques Cartier Park Catherine Bulinski / photo modified

Situated on the banks of the Ottawa River, Jacques Cartier Park becomes the outdoor venue for many events and festivals throughout the year. Canada Day celebrations take place here, as does Winterlude (Bal de Neige), when the park is transformed into a snow playground. Note that this Gatineau park is easily confused with a larger national park of the same name near Quebec City.

7 Moulin de Wakefield

Wakefield Covered Bridge
Wakefield Covered Bridge

The Moulin de Wakefield stands about 40 kilometers north of Gatineau (Highway 105) above the River Pêche just before it joins the Gatineau. Built in 1838 to mill flour, it has been restored to working order and now operates as the (much more glamorous) Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa. Other historic attractions in the area include a steam train and the pedestrian-only Wakefield Covered Bridge.

60 Mill Rd, Wakefield

8 Lac Mousseau

The official summer residence of the prime minister of Canada is on Lac Mousseau, also known as Harrington Lake, in the center of Gatineau Park. The property has served this purpose since the time of John Diefenbaker, though the residence is not open to the public.

Where to Stay in Gatineau for Sightseeing

We recommend these great hotels in Gatineau near popular museums, shops, and restaurants:

  • Hilton Lac-Leamy: luxury high-rise, lake views, spacious rooms, outdoor pool, upscale spa, rental bikes.
  • Ramada Plaza Gatineau: mid-range pricing, modern rooms and split-level suites, electric fireplaces, indoor pool.
  • Les Suites Victoria: 3-star hotel, contemporary suites with kitchenettes, coffeemakers, cozy café.
  • Motel Adam: budget hotel, comfortable beds, outdoor pool, free parking.

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