A Dynamic Economy
The Gatineau Valley is a leading region in Western Québec that shows an outstanding dynamism. For the past ten years, forest and tourism potential development has been a constant focus for economic stakeholders.
Located some 60 km north of the National Capital area (Gatineau-Ottawa), the Gatineau Valley MRC extends over a vast territory of nearly 13,600 km2, made up of a rich and mixed forest interspersed with more than 3,200 lakes and dozens of rivers.
The population of the Gatineau Valley, numbering about 20,000 people, originates from three cultural communities living in harmony: French, Algonquin and Irish. French and English are therefore the common languages spoken by the people.
The municipal territory includes 17 municipalities with Maniwaki as the main activity centre (population centre of 8,000 people). It also includes the Algonquin reserve of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, south of Maniwaki, and the Algonquin village of Barrière Lake, located in the heart of the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve.
Forest and industry
The Gatineau Valley is one of the youngest regions in Québec. It first owes its development to its rich and mixed forest where over twenty species grow, which are among the most in demand by the industry.
Since the first half of the 19th century and for the following 100 years, its economy was essentially based on logging while subsistence farming developed in parallel.
As for the forest processing industry, it started to emerge in the fifties only and then has undergone accelerated development, particularly in the past ten years.
Just like the forest industry, tourism has also been very active in the past few years, initiating an unparalleled shift towards diversification.
For a long period of time, the region was known almost essentially for the quality of its hunting and fishing activities. Since a few years, it qualifies as a four-season destination visited by over 300,000 tourists and 125,000 excursionists each year, coming mainly from Northeastern America.
The traditional hunting, fishing and resort products still rank first in tourism supply, but several new products and services have been or are being developed in the areas of ecotourism and extreme sports, hiking activities, culture and heritage, among others.
Although it has seen better days, agriculture continues to play an important role in the regional economy.
A long-time producer of cattle for meat with 50 active producers, the region is increasingly diversifying its production, notably in maple syrup production but also in less traditional sectors such as cranberry crop and added-value processing.
Because its farmlands have been little exploited in the past decades and because the soils have received little chemical fertilisers, the region is particularly suitable for developing organic production businesses.