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Old Aylmer Village Walking TourThe City of Gatineau, in collaboration with the Aylmer Heritage Association, has released a new publication spotlighting the treasures of Aylmer’s Old Village. “Heritage Walking Tour of Aylmer’s Old Village,” the title of the publication, is a lavishly illustrated, full-colour fold-out brochure written by Enid Page, one of the leading lights at the Aylmer Heritage Association.

Impeccably written, the brochure, which is available in English and French, features short histories of twenty-one of the historic sites of Old Aylmer. Aylmer, along with Hull and other former municipalities on the north side of the Ottawa River, is now a part of the City of Gatineau. The photographs that accompany the histories are a combination of archival and contemporary illustrations. The back cover features a map of Old Aylmer. According to the introduction to the publication, Aylmer’s “early settlers, and those that followed, left us a rich past. Their legacy is seen in Aylmer’s impressive public buildings, splendid stone mansions, elegant brick houses, charming wood frame homes and solidly crafted log cabins.” The tour is an excellent way to educate and sensitize locals and visitors alike to the architectural gems that survive in this village which, as we learn in the brochure, was once “the commercial and administrative hub of the entire Outaouais.”

Highlights of the walking tour, which is about 2 km in length, include Aylmer’s superb classical revival courthouse, built of cut limestone in 1852; the British Hotel, built in the Georgian style in 1841 and a landmark on Main Street to this day; the Charles Devlin House (1870); the Wyman Davis House, a squared timber dwelling built in 1837 and recently restored; Notre-Dame Convent (1867), a school for girls run by the Grey Nuns for nearly a century; and Saint-Paul Catholic Church (1894), the stunning Gothic Revival church that was a target of arsonist in 2009. The final stop on the tour is the Old Market Square. The commercial and social hub of Aylmer for generations, the square is now the site of a war memorial, but is still a focal point of the Old Village and a pleasant spot to relax. Although there are many other fine buildings in Old Aylmer and its immediate vicinity that do not appear in this brochure (the Symmes Inn, for example, comes to mind), this publication is an excellent way to gain an appreciation for the important concentration of heritage buildings that have survived in this village, and which have been jealously protected by municipal authorities in consultation with members of the Aylmer Heritage Association and others.

“Heritage Walking Tour of Aylmer’s Old Village” is available through the offices of the City of Gatineau, through the Aylmer Heritage Association, and at outlets around Aylmer.