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Located on the Ottawa River, Calumet Island was for many years the meeting place of the Algonquin people. During the French Régime, Calumet Island, like the rest of the Ottawa River, was a link in the western route to the Great Lakes (via the Mattawa River, Lake Nipissing and the French River up to the Georgian Bay).

The missionaries, fur traders and soldiers who used the western route portaged through Calumet Island to avoid one of the roughest sections of the Ottawa River. As early as 1613, Champlain made his way up the Ottawa River to Morrison Island, domain of Tessouat, Chief of the Algonquins.

The portage trail on Calumet Island was the setting for the Cadieux epic, a legend recounting the tale of "coureur de bois" who gave up his life to save his family from attacking Iroquois. A monument in honor of Cadieux was erected at the entrance of the village.

Calumet Island was erected as a township in 1846, with F.X. Bastien as mayor. The first chapel was built in 1843, followed by the first church built by Father Groulx in 1847. The church was replaced by the existing stone church in 1869. Ste. Anne's Parish is undoubtedly the oldest parish in the county.

Lead-zinc occurrences had been discovered on Calumet Island in 1893. New Calumet Mines began production in 1943. The maximum output of 840 tons per day was reached early in 1953 at which time employment figures stood at 435 people. The mine was shut down in 1968.

Today, those "roughest sections of the Ottawa River" that the explores tried to avoid are enthusiastically ridden by tourists. Three whitewater rafting companies - Equinox Adventures, Esprit Rafting and Aventures Outaouais - take adventurers down the Rocher Fendu rapids, known as the best whitewater rapids in Eastern North America.