The creation of the Ottawa River began during the last ice age, 12, 000 years ago. The Ottawa Valley was covered in thick ice called glaciers. These glaciers took thousands of years to recede leaving behind the Champlain Sea, the Canadian Shield and a wonderful abundance of sandy shores, fertile agricultural soil, and the Ottawa River. The northern edge of the Ottawa River is well defined by cliffs along the Quebec side, the edge of a fault line creating the famous Gatineau Hills.
We are an active earthquake zone along the Ottawa River still today !
The abundance of whitewater in this area is thanks to this active land below us that created dramatic rock formations, and in the end, amazing rapids for whitewater enthusiasts of the modern era.
The 1940’s were a busy dam-building period across Canada and especially in Ontario and Quebec. The large volume Ottawa River with its cascading waterfalls became a vision to harness the energy for hydro production for the two neighboring provinces. The Chenaux Power Station was built in 1945 creating Lac Rocher Fondue, the lake that the OWL Rafting resort is based on. Our sandy beach that has become our favorite sun tanning haven was in the middle of a farmer’s field up until 1945. We are told farm buildings still lie somewhere off our waterfront, sunken treasures still to be explored ! Luckily for the whitewater world, this 144 megawatt production facility did not flood out all the whitewater upstream. The 12 km section called the Rocher Fondue rapids boast names of early loggers, like McCoy and Garvin – that had spent their final days de-jamming the pile-up havoc that these rapids created. There are 43 such power facilities along the 1200kms of the Ottawa River.