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This engraving shows Hull around 1850. See clearly in the lower left hand corner are the Aylmer Road, Hull’s Main Street, the canal that created Wright Island and the Union Suspension Bridge.In 1829, Ruggles Wright designed and erected the first timber slide at the Chaudière, by cutting a canal on the Hull shore from above the falls to a point on the river below the falls. The canal, which created “Wright Island,” allowed floated timber to bypass the falls undamaged. Two other timber slides on the Ottawa side were constructed in 1836 by George Buchanan and in 1846 by the Board of Works.In 1851, the Board of Works had the islands at the foot of the falls surveyed into land and water lots for industrial purposes. American expansion across the prairies in the early 1850s had created a market for lumber in the United States that was capable of absorbing as much as Canada could produce. In 1854, a treaty permitting Canada to export lumber to the United States duty-free was a great boost to the industry. Typically those who spearheaded the boom in this area were Yankee entrepreneurs who came north to the Ottawa Valley to take advantage of the new deal. The Chaudière Falls provided them with the water power they needed to fuel their saw mills.

The truss bridge, c.1935, showing lumber piles.On the Hull side of the falls, most of the water lots belonged to the firm of Philemon Wright and Sons. It was not until after the death of Ruggles Wright, the last surviving partner, in 1863, that these lots were freed up for others to rent or buy. Local lumber companies such as E. B. Eddy and Hurdman Brothers established their mills on these former Wright holdings during the 1870s.

At the peak of production, the mills of the Chaudière manufactured a total of 424,000,000 board feet of lumber annually. After 1885, the water power of the mills was also used to generate electricity and a number of power houses were built. The large horseshoe dam that controls the amount of water flowing over the Chaudière was constructed in 1908, raising the level of the river above the falls by 10 feet. In 1890, E. B. Eddy began the pulp and paper industry which quickly replaced the sawn lumber industry at the Chaudière. On the Ottawa side of the bridges, J. R. Booth’s mills and wood yards were the largest concerns, while on the Hull side, the E. B. Eddy mills dominated.

Few of the older buildings at the Chaudière survived the disastrous fire of 1900 that destroyed more than 3,000 buildings in Hull and Ottawa. Most of the buildings seen today from the bridge were built after 1900 by the E. B. Eddy Company and the J. R. Booth Company, which began to manufacture paper in 1912. In 1946, when the E. B. Eddy Company bought the Booth mills, it became the only company still operating at the Chaudière. Today, the National Capital Commission owns much of the land at the Chaudière.

**This publication is available for $25.00, plus shipping and handling, from the Aylmer Heritage Association, P. O. Box 476, Gatineau, Quebec J9H 5E7. Tel: (819) 684-6809.