COOL REAL ESTATE: The Oldest European Settlement In The Ottawa Valley and a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post

 

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Lying quietly on the shores of the Ottawa River near Quyon, QC are remains of the Ottawa Valley’s oldest settlement and a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post.

Situated approximately 57km northwest of Ottawa a nondescript piece of property was recently listed for sale. The serene $55,000 piece of real estate on the Quebec side lies a mile above Chats Falls on the Ottawa River and boasts a dock, beach and views of our kaleidoscope sunsets in addition to another curious amenity: It is part of the oldest known European settlement in the Ottawa Valley with ruins of a centuries old Hudson’s Bay Trading Post concealed nearby.

A typical 1800's trading post of that would have been a similar scene at the property on Mondion Point.

A typical 1800’s trading post that would have been a similar scene at the property on Mondion Point.

Before Philomen Wright arrived in 1800 from Massachusetts to settle the National Capital Region in Hull, there was another white man that settled in the wilds of the Ottawa River Valley. Traversed by nomadic tribes of the First Nations for thousands of years before any white man arrived to transport goods and copper from Lake Superior east along the Ottawa River, or “Great River” as it was known then, this property was a strategic and cultural piece of land.  Samuel Champlain would have been the first white man to explore in detail the Ottawa Valley and passed by this property in the early 1600’s but it wouldn’t be until 1786 that another white man would decide to build a permanent residence here. Fourteen years prior to Philomen Wright setting up shop in Hull, Joseph Mondion arrived in 1786 on the very shores of this real estate currently for sale. Mondion cleared the area on a point of land now called Indian Point.

A description of the trading post at Mondion Point from an 1832 publication entitled "British Dominions in North America" by Joseph Bouchette

A description of the trading post at Mondion Point from an 1832 publication entitled “British Dominions in North America” by Joseph Bouchette. Note “spirits” for sale. SOURCE: Google

Known to be a major transit route for both First Nations tribes and French voyageurs and “coureur des bois”, Mondion built what is now known to be the first permanent structure in the Ottawa Valley when he built his home there in 1786. A wise entrepreneur, Mondion raised cattle and hogs and sold meat to the hungry fur traders passing by and portaging Chats Falls in the late 18th century. After the British took control of the previously French occupied lands of New France in 1763, Mondion operated his little trading empire on the Ottawa River until he was apparently shut down for selling illegal whisky to those en route along the river. Packing up shop in 1800, he sold his piece of property to a trading company from Montreal: Forsyth, Richardson and Company. In 1804 the Northwest Trading Company took over the property, a valuable piece of land known to be a strategic fur trading point along the Ottawa River.

An 1804 survey map outlines where the structures of the trading post and previous Mondion buildings were located.

An 1804 survey map outlines where the structures of the trading post and previous Mondion buildings were located. (Source-http://www.histoireforestiereoutaouais.ca/en/b2/)

The North West Company of Montreal and Hudson’s Bay Company were forcibly merged in 1821 by order of the British government in an effort to end the often-violent competition between the two trading companies and the piece of land became an official Hudson’s Bay trading post. This once remote outpost consisted of log cabin structures and wooden outbuildings that would contain the inventory needed to trade with natives, such as guns, blankets, iron tools, and clothing.

A typical Hudson's Bay Trading Post in the 1800's.

A typical Hudson’s Bay Trading Post in the 1800’s.

In 1837 the trading post was abandoned since most of the native population had been displaced and the fur trade was coming to an end with lumber being the new commodity along the Ottawa River. The trading post log cabins fell into ruin and the land was transformed into farmland until it became cottage country, of which it remains today.

Overlaying the 1804 Northwest Trading Company map over a current map we can see where any ruins may be located.

Overlaying the 1804 Northwest Trading Company map over a current map we can see where any ruins may be located. SOURCE: Bing Maps

In an effort to locate this once prosperous 200 year old Hudson’s Bay Trading Post I referred to an 1805 map by the Northwest Trading Company that outlined where the original structures would have been. Transposing that map on a current aerial view map indicated where any ruins may lie today. With that information I visited the area and found not only the possible remains of the original Mondion and/or HBC structures but also that a piece of this significant Ottawa history is currently for sale for at a mere $55,000. You can view the listing here.

The parcel of land that was once part of the Ottawa Valley's oldest settlement and a Hudson's Bay Trading Post is for sale.

A parcel of land that was once part of the Ottawa Valley’s oldest settlement and a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post is now for sale.

Another map from 1845 indicates where Mondion's original 1786 house would have been.

Another map from 1845 indicates where Mondion’s original 1786 house would have been. Some cottages are built on a burial ground. (Source: The Upper Ottawa Valley by Clyde Kennedy)

Of course the original plot of land settled by Mondion and used by the Hudson’s Bay Company has been subdivided into many lots since they departed, but a significant parcel of waterfront land that was once owned by Mondion and the Hudson’s Bay Company is up for sale. Nearby off the main road it was also discovered that some overgrown stone foundation remain, perhaps of the original 1786 Mondion house and the 1800’s trading post, on whose property it is unknown. The crumbling stones of this once bustling fur trading dynasty now sit quietly forgotten in the bushes.

Concealed under the cover of bushes and underbrush, the original stone foundation of a structure is visible. This is most likely the remains of Mondions original home he built in 1786, the oldest known settlement in the Ottawa Valley.

Concealed under the cover of bushes and underbrush, the original stone foundation of a structure is visible. This could be the remains of Mondion’s original home built in 1786, the oldest known pioneer settlement in the Ottawa Valley.

 

The stone ruins lie almost exactly where the old maps indicated it would be.

The concealed stone ruins measure approximately 10ft by 20ft.

The stone ruins measure approximately 10ft by 20ft.

 

Lying quietly on the shore of the Ottawa River the remains of the Valley's oldest home and a Hudson's Bay Trading Post lie forgotten.

It seems a shame that the area of Ottawa Valley’s oldest pioneer settlement and a Hudson’s Bay Trading Post lie forgotten on the shores of the mighty Ottawa River.

I find it seriously disheartening that such an important piece of Ottawa Valley history, if not Canadian history remains forgotten, up for grabs to the first person who has $55,000. This is certainly an important part of our national history that I think should be considered for recognition by the federal or provincial government. Who knows what important artifacts lie beneath the surface of this available real estate. The ruins, whoever they belong to, should also be recognized in some manner. Perhaps I’ll call up the Hudson’s Bay Company Customer Service department to see if they are interested in setting up an outlet there again.  I can also call my bank to see if I can extend my line of credit to buy my very own piece of important Ottawa Valley history.

 

SOURCES:

firstpeoplesofcanada.com

heritagepontiac.ca

histoireforestiereoutaouais.ca

Wikipedia: Hudson’s Bay Company

Google Maps

Bing Maps

The Upper Ottawa Valley by Clyde Kennedy, 1970.

 

 

 

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12 comments

  1. I just came across this website by way of a tweet from the Ottawa Riverkeeper. Great website. Lots of interesting information. I can add a little bit about the history of Mondion Point. I cannot immediately cite a reference but I have come across information in the past where Mondion may have been Metis.

    From at least 1808 to 1812, the property was operated as both a farm and trading post by a Mr. Cameron, possibly still under the ownership of the Northwest Company or Forsyth Richardson. In February of 1812, John McNab (Sr.) visited Mr. Cameron enroute from Moose Fort to Montreal, New York and London. McNab described the farmstead as consisting of a house, a large barn and a yard for cattle, hogs and poultry. The yard was surrounded by open sheds and railings. (HBC Archives B/135/a/102)

    In 1812 the property, 1050 acres plus buildings and livestock, was purchased by John Hodgson for the sum of 22,000 livres. The Historical Atlas of Canada cites the conversion rate at 24 livre per Halifax pound. Hodgson had been in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company since 1774 at the age of 14, and had risen to the position Chief Factor at Albany on James Bay but had been fired in 1810 (coincidentally, McNab, who had been Chief Factor at York, was fired at the same time).

    The Ottawa river was the trans-Canada highway of its time and visits to the Point are mentioned in a number of fur traders journals. In the book “Colin Robertson’s Letters” published by the Champlain Society for the Hudson’s Bay Record Society in 1934, Robertson, then in the employ of the Hudson’s Bay Company, noted visits to the site in 1815 and 1818 as he travelled up the Ottawa river. Robertson refers to Hodgson as “Mr. Hudson”, as he had chosen to become known. One wonders if this was perhaps an early case of trademark infringement where Hodgson attempted to trade off the reputation of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Hodgson may have occupied the site until 1823.

    The Hudson’s Bay Company, as described in the book “John McLean’s Notes of a Twenty Five years Service in the Hudson’s Bay Territory” established a post at Chats Falls in 1822. But McLean describes it as being built on one of the islands in the middle of the falls, where the portage exists. Sometime after 1823, the Hudson’s Bay Company moved their post to this site. By that time there were an increasing number of other settlers in the area, including Charles Shirreff on the opposite side of the river who received a land grant in 1815.

    1. This is fantastic information to add to the story….thanks for taking the time to write that down and send…much appreciated….I hope the area is someday properly researched and archeologically investigated by professionals that can later preserve what is there.

  2. Hi Andrew, great story. Just a note about neighbouring lots: ranges 1-6 (some 12,000 acres) were owned by Philemon Wright and somewhere on those lots, he built a house and barns. The exact location of the house is apparently lost in history (something next for you to find?). He retired to this farm & died there in 1839. His son Ruggles dug a timber slide/canal right across Pontiac Bay from Indian Point. The timber slide(or remnants, at least) can still be found at the end of Chemin du Canal and can easily be seen on a Google satellite view of the area.

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