The Outaouais (prounounced oo-tuh-WAY) is a region of the province of Quebec north of Canada's capital, Ottawa.
- 1 Gatineau (Aylmer, Buckingham, Hull, Masson-Anger & Gatineau) — a municipality of 200,000 people with origins in the lumber industry that serves as a bedroom community for Ottawa
- 2 Chelsea — a largely residential, rural community, home to Gatineau Park
- 3 Bristol — a picturesque municipality offering recreational tourism (vacation, cycling, hunting and fishing, mountain biking, snowmobiles, boating)
- 4 Grenville — a picturesque municipality with a 19th-century canal running through it
- 5 Maniwaki — a small community adjacent to the Kitigan Zibi First Nation Reserve
- 6 Montebello — best known for the Château Montebello, a resort which is the largest log structure ever built, and for Montebello Rockfest, Canada's largest annual rock festival
- 7 Wakefield — a picturesque village with a covered bridge
- 1 Gatineau Park — the outdoor playground for Canada's national capital
- 2 Pontiac — a group of rural communities along the shore of the Ottawa River, Wikivoyage covers this as a separate guide from the rest of the Outaouais.
Outaouais in French and Ottawa in English are both named after the same indigenous nation, known these days as the Odawa or Odaawaa. The Odawa are part of the Anishinaabeg branch of the Algonquian language family, related to Ojibwe and Potawatomi. This group migrated after contact with Europeans to what are now Western Ontario, Michigan and Wisconsin, but their name remains behind.
You will find in the Outaouais region a really bilingual population. You can easily get understood in French or English in most places, being so close to Ontario.
Access by city bus from Ottawa:
- STO (Société de transport de l'Outaouais).
- A handful of OC Transpo (Ottawa city bus) routes terminate at government buildings in Hull. Most are rush hour only.
Access by intercity bus:
- Autobus Gatineau. Commuter bus service from Ottawa to Gatineau, Wakefield, Gracefield, Maniwaki, and Grand-Remous. Better intercity bus connections are available in Ottawa.
- 1 l'Aéroport Exécutif de Gatineau-Ottawa (YND IATA Gatineau Executive Airport). Limited scheduled Pascan service (daily to Quebec City), otherwise primarily serves general aviation.
- Air connections are also available in Ottawa (YOW IATA) locally and Montréal (200 km distant) (YUL IATA) with direct connections to intercity passenger rail at Montréal-Dorval airport.
By car: Driving in Gatineau and Ottawa is fairly simple. Finding a parking spot is not a big problem maybe except downtown Hull and even so... it is nothing compared to Montreal.
By bus: STO - Société de Transport de l'Outaouais is the main city bus in Gatineau.
By boat: You can sail on the Ottawa and the Gatineau rivers and the Rideau canal.
By bike: There are many bike paths in the region, especially in Gatineau.
The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau is an architecturally fascinating building that houses moderns exhibits about the country's history, from the Indigenous peoples, to French colonization, the British imperial era, and the formation of a self-governing dominion.
The fall colours when the leaves turn to bright yellow, red and orange and the hills seem to be on fire. The colours peak late October. Although they are spectacular throughout the park, one of the best views is from the base of the Eardley Escarpment at the Lusk Falls parking lot.
The Champlain Lookout offers breathtaking views onto the Ottawa River valley from the Eardley Escarpment. The lookout is accessible by car and is a popular spot for watching sunsets.
Kingsmere was the country estate of William Lyon Mackenzie King, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Canada. Take a leisurely walk through gardens and "ruins" he collected in a woodland setting. The cottages, including Kingswood and the primary residence, Moorside, have been restored and feature interactive exhibits about Mackenzie King's era.
The Grands feux du casino is an impressive fireworks show at the Lac Leaky Casino.
The Olympiques de Gatineau are the local hockey team, in the Ligue de Hockey Junior-Majeur du Québec.
The Maison de la culture, Gatineau has frequent shows of musicians, signers and humourists.
Gatineau Park offers skiing (cross-country and downhill), hiking, canoeing, camping, rock-climbing, mountain biking, roller-blading, wildlife watching and leisurely strolls.
There is skiing close to Ottawa at Mont Ste. Marie, Camp Fortune, Edelwisse, Mont Cascades, or Ski Vorlage.
You can bungee jump at the Great Canadian Bungee, the highest bungee jump in the Americas
Mont Cascades water park has heated swimming pools and water slides in July and August.
White water river trips are offered on the Ottawa River and smaller nearby rivers Noire, Coulonge, and Dumoine.