NOTABLE WOMEN OF THE GATINEAU VALLEY

This virtual exhibit celebrates ten remarkable women of the Gatineau Valley.

Spanning the years 1825 – 2015, the lives of these women differed greatly in many respects, but what they all have in common is the setting of the Gatineau Valley. Against this dynamic landscape, which is in turns beautiful and forbidding, inspiring and harsh, they contributed their formidable reserves of energy, their talent, and what little spare time they had to improving the world around them. Through her life’s work, each woman in this exhibition altered the physical and social landscape of the Gatineau Valley in ways that continue to shape our lives.

The accomplishments of these ten women range from building bridges to running businesses, establishing social services to changing environmental law, but all of their successes were achieved with great effort and determination in the face of significant challenges, including the numerous demands of their daily lives. Many of these women lived at a time when the dangers of childbirth were very real, and yet they had up to 11 children. They lived on remote farms or in small villages and, at a time when roads were often washed out or blocked by snow, and electricity was non-existent or unreliable, they did not retreat into isolation; rather, they simply fought harder to establish safe, supportive communities. Other women in this exhibition may have had the help of modern amenities, but their daily lives were no less demanding as they juggled family responsibilities with careers, community involvement, and the timeless challenges of country living. What is noteworthy about these ten women is that they chose to add to their already heavy load of responsibilities by taking on numerous community causes, and in doing so, they forever altered the Gatineau Hills and the people who call it home.

Though they may not have used all of these terms to describe themselves, these women were mothers, farmers, teachers, writers, activists, historians, musicians, veterans, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. They did not always receive the credit they deserved, and much of their work happened behind the scenes and in the margins of history books, but their influence has reverberated throughout their families, communities, and, in a number of cases, throughout the world. Many of their descendants still live in the Gatineau Valley today, enjoying and working to maintain the tightknit communities established by their remarkable foremothers.

This exhibition was made possible with the financial support from the Department of Canadian Heritage, CLD des Collines-de-l'Outaouais, and the Municipality of La Pêche.