History of the villages
Historically, the village clusters date back to the time when colonists settled in the Outaouais region, starting in the 1820s. Those who populated the Municipality settled in the territory to take part in the development of the forest industry. These colonists came from Lower Canada, in the case of the French-speaking population, as well as England, Scotland and Ireland, in the case of the English-speaking population. Moreover, the names of several villages in the Municipality were based on the names of sites in the county of York, in England. This is the case for Masham, Aldfield, Wakefield, Farrellton and Rupert.
Alcove is a hamlet located along the shores of the Gatineau River, a few kilometres to the north of the village of Wakefield. As a result of its location, it was initially called North Wakefield. The name Alcove came into use starting in 1928 to designate the post office and was inspired by the local landscape. In fact, the village nestles in a hollow surrounded by hills. The first colonists to settle in the area in 1834 were the parents of Mary Pritchard-Irwin, the wife of Wakefield’s pioneer, Joseph. They settled directly on the shore of the river. Other people followed them and progressively settled the interior areas. By about 1900, the village had a church, a store, a school and a crossing, evidence of its vitality.
The hamlet of Duclos, named after Presbyterian minister Rieul-Prisque Duclos, was founded in the second half of the 19th century. A store and a post office were operating there in about 1880 and small industries were established at the start of the 20th century, in particular a cheese factory in about 1900 and a sawmill in 1915. The hamlet also had a church and a school as of the start of the last century.
The township of Aldfield was established in 1882. Travelling up the La Pêche River to Wolf Lake and working on the new logging sites, a large number of colonists had an opportunity to find work during the winter. Soon, more and more families came to settle on the cleared land. The lumber industry was booming and several colonists tried their luck in business, operating sawmills and wood cutting and transportation businesses. A chapel was built there in 1893 and the village took shape with the construction of a general store, a post office and a one-room schoolhouse.
The village of Farrellton, established along the shores of the Gatineau River, was founded by Patrick Farrell who welcomed settlers on their way north. The first village postmaster, he operated a general store where all travellers stopped before heading off toward regions that were largely unsettled. An enterprising pioneer, Farrell gave his name to this area of the countryside where a small group of Irish colonists lived. The village grew over time and built a school, a church, a sawmill and a butter factory. A covered bridge was built in Farrellton in 1914 to connect the two shores of the Gatineau River.
Colonization of the land at Lac des Loups, in the north-west portion of the township of Masham, started in the 1840s, when a few Irish families settled there. They had crossed the Gatineau hills looking for unspoiled, fertile, land. In fact, the land along the Outaouais River was already overpopulated and the more ambitious families were setting out into the unknown in the hope of finding a better life. According to the 1861 census, several families, all Irish, were living close to Lac des Loups. French-speaking families started to settle there as of 1860. At the outset, the village had a chapel and a community hall.
Lascelles, once called Johnston’s Corner, is a hamlet located ten kilometres north-west of the village of Wakefield. Like many other pioneering communities, it was built at a crossroads. This village once had two churches, a general store, a post office, a school, a blacksmith shop and a cheese factory.
The village of Rupert is in the centre of the agricultural community established by Irish immigrants in the 1830s. In the past, it had a cheese factory, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, a general store, two churches (Methodist and Presbyterian), a community hall and a school.
In about 1835, the first families of colonists settled in the township of Masham, starting an embryonic village. These French-speaking colonists came from Lower Canada, following the Lac Philippe, Lac Mousseau and Meech Lake chain, and settled along the La Pêche River rather than the Gatineau River. One of these settlers, Ovide Bélanger, donated a parcel of land for the building of the first chapel and, since there was no priest, he obtained permission to celebrate marriages. The village was founded officially in 1855, the date of the first Council meeting.
The village of Wakefield is located at the junction of the Gatineau and La Pêche rivers, in the heart of the Gatineau hills. One of the first villages to see the light of day along the Gatineau River, Wakefield was founded in 1830 by immigrants, who came for the most part from Ireland, as well as from Scotland and England. In 1838, Scott Fairbairn built a grain mill on the falls of the La Pêche River. Some time later, this mill was sold to the Maclaren family, which added a sawmill and a general store. The village boomed following this. It had hotels, churches, a school, a farrier, a tinsmith, a cobbler and even a tailor.