Name: Christopher Seifried & Father Basil Tanguay
Date: June 04, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM
Duration: 1.5 hr
Language: English
Start: Lady Head Monument at the foot of Main Street.
End: St. James the Greater Church hall.
Area: Portage-du-Fort Old Town
Distance: 1.5 km
Nancy Lane is a grassy area. All other streets are paved and mostly with sidewalks.

The Stone Heritage of Portage-du-Fort, Québec



Aerial view of Portage-du-Fort
(photo by Jamie Cameron)

The village of Portage-du-Fort is one of the early settlements along the great artery of east-west trade and transport that the upper Ottawa River once was. Situated as it was at the eastern end of a series of five difficult cataracts, this spectacular site served as a natural stopping place for explorers, missionaries, fur traders, voyageurs, loggers, raftsmen, settlers, and river travellers.   Its period of greatest prosperity began with the coming of steamboats around 1836, and it served as the commercial centre of Pontiac County for over fifty years. By-passed by the railway in 1886, and ravaged by a fire in 1914, “Portage” has seen little development in over a century.   Our walk will explore the village’s heritage of rough-hewn stone buildings constructed in the mid-1800s to serve as homes, businesses, and places of worship.


The route will take us along Main St., Craig St., Nancy Lane, Mill St., Usbourne St., and Church St.   The points of interest include the following: 

  • Lady Head Monument
  • the Tanguay house
  • Nancy Lane 
  • Dr. Purvis house
  • Mill Street
  • Fox house
  • McDonald house
  • Usborne Depot Trading Post
  • St. George’s Anglican Church
  • Reid house (Edgewood)
  • St. George’s Anglican Hall
  • Town Hall
  • Little Stone Church
  • First Catholic Academy
  • St. James the Greater Catholic Church

If you are driving from Ottawa or Gatineau, you have two choices:

  • On the Ontario side, take Highway 17 to Storyland Rd (a bit past Renfrew), turn right and follow County Road 4 to the junction with Chenaux Road (653).  There may be a sign indicating the bridge to Quebec at this intersection, but I didn't see one.  In any case, turn right and continue to the river, crossing at the Chenaux dam.  Turn right at rue Bittern, which becomes Mill St. in Portage-du-Fort.  Turn right at Main St. to find the starting point for the walk. 
  • On the Quebec side:  Take 148-Ouest to Shawville, then turn left at 303 and continue south to Portage-du-Fort.  303 turns into Main St. in Portage-du-Fort; follow Main St to the river, where you will find the starting point.  The drive will take approximately an hour and 15 min.


Chris Seifried is president of the Pontiac Historical Society.
Father Basil Tanguay is a specialist in the local history of Portage-du-Fort.