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Before the first European settler arrived, the first nations peoples, the Algonquins and the Iroquois, fought each other for control of the river. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Hudson's Bay Company set up a trading post in the region. The first Europeans settlers established themselves on the south shore of the River Island. In 1840, a church was built at Rapides Paquet, which later became a ferry stop.

After a fire occurred in 1853, the settlers headed west to the present site of Chapeau. The village of Chapeau was incorporated in 1873 with Patrick Cunningham as the mayor. The municipality of Allumette Island was incorporated in 1847 and its first mayor was Andrew Whelan.

In 1999, the municipalities of Chapeau and Allumette Island and Allumette Island East were united.

St-Alphonsus-de-Liguori, a beautiful church built in 1885, overlooks the village landscape and can be seen from a distance.
There are many old businesses in the town. One of the oldest is the Chapeau Hotel. The hotel built by A. Maloney has been a bar, a post office, a bank and a telegraph office. Today, it is Fred's Restaurant known for the best and biggest steaks in the Ottawa Valley. The Agricultural Fair in Chapeau has taken place every year in mid-August since 1861. It is a favourite and popular holiday time.

Allumettes Island
Today the area boasts some excellent farmland, as well as scores of beautiful cottages along the river's shores. The municipality contains two villages: Desjardinsville and Demers Centre. The former is in the site of the wharf and boat ramp that forms the western end of Pontiac's new bypass system for recreational boats. From this point, boats can gain access to open water from Pembroke up to Rapides des Joachims.

The village was named for postmaster Paul Desjardins, who once owned a hotel at the wharf site. The parish of St Alphonsus built a mission church there and still holds a picnic there each summer. Originally known as the "French settlement", Demers Centre is located in the interior of the island, and is still the location of a general store as well as the town hall. This hamlet was named for Moîse Demers, an early merchant there.

Allumettes Island East
Its first mayor, in 1820, was Hugh N. Lackie. As in the past, Allumettes Island East continues to be a farming community. Almost central to this municipality is the tiny hamlet of St. Joseph's. The present church in St. Joseph's was built in 1910 under the supervision of Monsignor Renaud. Across the road from the church stands the original community hall. Built in 1927, this hall was used to hold many dances, card games parties and other social events. Although there are no stores in today's village, many people have fond recollections of meeting at Aunt Sadie's store built by a McGuire. Mrs. Théoret, otherwise known as Aunt Sadie, purchased the general store after her husband died. Several limestone quarries were established around Cranberry Lake, now called Cranson Lake. Located on the Leo Godin farm is the site of the first grist mill on the island, built around the 1840's. A number of archeological studies have taken place within this municipality. One of the most noted studies is the discovery of an Indigenous burial site on Morrison Island.