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Recreation Association

The recreation association property is located at: 
394 Rue Tessier Otter Lake, Quebec, J0X 2P0


Recreation Association Executive:

President: Shane Presley

Vice President: Stacey Lafleur

Treasurer: Yvonne Lamaroux

Secretary: Tara Richard

Directors: Up to 6 directors

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The recreation association grounds are used year-round for sporting events, community gatherings, weddings, weekly activities and general daily enjoyment by all. The grounds are available to the public and contain the following:

  • Baseball / soccer field

  • Beach with docks (unsupervised)

  • Outdoor gazebos

  • Free WIFI

  • Benches and interpretative signs

  • Outdoor stage

  • Outdoor picnic tables

  • Children’s playground

  • Multi-functional pathway

  • Raymond Johnston Community Centre

  • Rink building

  • Splash pad (coming soon)

Events: Canada Day festivities with fireworks, Baseball tournaments, Ball hockey, Motor bike show, Halloween 

Multifunctional Pathway


Otter Lake Sign Layouts

1. Otter Lake Sign


4:30 pm

  • The Municipality of Otter Lake was founded in 1876 by the union of three townships, being Leslie, Clapham and Huddersfield.

  • The name of Otter Lake is a reference to the animal, the “Otter”. Otters are still present today. According to native tradition, the Otter is a symbol of joy, helpfulness, kindness and freedom. Thus, the Otter represents in many cases the people of Otter Lake.

  • The first post office in the area was located at a depot on the lake of Otter Lake. The post office was eventually re-located closer to Farm Lake and the village that grew around it became known as Otter Lake.

  • In addition to Indigenous peoples who were its first inhabitants, Otter Lake's population is comprised of many different cultural backgrounds including: German, English, Irish, Scottish, French and Polish immigrants. The streets of Otter Lake are named after some of these early immigrant families (e.g., Farrell, Martineau, Quaile, Tessier).

  • In 1865, Robert Quaile, with his wife Mary Gardiner, was one of the first settlers to immigrate from Ireland. The Quaile farm consisted of over 400 acres of land, extending from the southeast end of the village to Farm Lake Road. Farm Lake likely got its name from this farm. Robert, his son Thomas, and grandson Basil were active members of Municipal Council and school boards. In the 1970’s, Basil Quaile was the first mayor of Otter Lake to be Warden of Pontiac County.

  • Like many neighboring municipalities whose lands were not well-suited for agriculture, logging was the central economic activity. With the downturn in the logging industry and shutting down of mills, Otter Lake is turning towards its natural beauty and tourism for economic development. One of our most interesting attractions is Leslie Park which was developed in 1972 and continues to prosper today.

  • Over the course of its existence, despite fires that changed the original image of the village, the economic downturns, changes in infrastructure and technological advancements, Otter Lake remains a resilient village that people are glad to call home.

  • Otter Lake is little more than 100 km from Ottawa and offers nature at your doorstep. It is “a place your family will love”.

Otter Lake Mural

2. Raymond Thomas Johnston Sign


10:00 am

  • Raymond Johnston was a resident of Otter Lake who represented Pontiac for 22 years in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec (later the National Assembly of Quebec) as a Union Nationale member. Ray had a significant positive impact on the Pontiac and Otter Lake. Many of the things we take for granted today were directly a result of his energy and influence in the Quebec Government.

  • Ray was born in Waltham, Quebec. He was the son of Robert Johnston, a merchant, and Theresa Coghlan, a teacher. He was educated in Waltham, Chapeau and Ottawa University. In 1935, he obtained a teaching certificate from the province of Ontario.

  • After graduation he worked for the Canadian International Paper Co. of Temiskaming for 3 years. In 1938 he and his brother Esmond started Johnston Bros., a general store in Otter Lake. Otter Lake became his home for the rest of his life.

  • Ray married Grace Bowie in 1941 and they had five daughters - Gail, Ann, Mary, Carol and Kim.

  • He served from 1942 to 1946 in the Forestry Corps. During WWII great quantities of wood were needed on the Western Front.

  • At the age of 39 Ray was elected to the Parliament of Quebec and represented Pontiac from 1948 to 1970. He served as the Union Nationale Party Whip, assistant Agricultural Minister and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fish & Game. He was made the Minister of Revenue in 1966.

  • During his term electricity was extended to many areas of the Pontiac, including Otter Lake. Many schools were built including two schools in Otter Lake. Many roads were improved including the widening & rebuilding of Highway 148 and paving of Otter Lake’s streets. Several bridges were also built such as the bridge from Allumette Island to Pembroke.

  • Ray worked for farmers with the Department of Colonization to receive “letters patent” which meant with a certain working of the land, it would eventually become theirs.

  • Ray was a keen supporter of sports, an honorary member of the Pontiac Lions Club, a Knight of Gregory the Great and a district governor for the Royal Canadian Legion. He was a member of the Pontiac Agricultural Society, a director of the Shawville and Quyon fairs and a member of the Pontiac Community Hospital. A wing of the hospital bears his name.

  • He was vice-president of the Clapham school board for 26 years, a president of the Pontiac school board and a municipal councillor of Otter Lake for 30 years.

  • Ray was responsible for the acquisition of the Recreation Association grounds from the Mahoney family and instrumental in establishing the Recreation Association in Otter Lake.

  • Raymond Johnston died in Shawville in 1989 at the age of 74. He is buried in the Otter Lake cemetery. He will be remembered for his geniality, fairness and unflinching dedication to the people of Otter Lake and the Pontiac.


3. The Old Depot


10:00 am

  • The Old Depot was declared a Heritage Site by the Municipality of Otter Lake in 2010 because of its historical significance to the area. It is considered among one of the oldest buildings in the Pontiac. The Old Depot is located at 475 Prince Arthur Street.
    •The white pines in the area were in high demand by Great Britain so she could build her ships and maintain her position as “ruler of the seas”. The Otter Lake Depot was built around 1839 by lumber baron Philemon Wright. It was used to store supplies such as flour, molasses and hay. It also housed the Post Office, the forge and a general store. The thriving lumber harvesting business extended up the Picanoc River and over to the Gatineau River.

  • Prince Arthur of England visited Pontiac in the late 1800’s and is believed to have spent the night at the Depot. He was a guest of the Gillies Brothers and the Gilmour Brothers, two of the major lumbering companies in Canada. He was on a hunting expedition up the Picanoc which proved to be a successful venture, with 2 moose, a deer and a bear for their efforts.

  • Acknowledging the Prince’s visit is a plaque located 19 km up the Picanoc Road where the Prince is believed to have cut down a tree at their campsite. Also Otter Lake’s main road is named after the Prince.

  • Prince Arthur later became the Duke of Connaught and acted as the Governor General of Canada from 1914 to 1918.

  • The Old Depot was bought and sold by several people through the years until it was purchased in 2007 by Jerry and Joanne Dubeau. Together they restored the place by replacing rotten structures with materials similar to the original materials. The many "coureurs des bois", loggers and lumberjacks who walked the floors of the depot are evidenced in some of the original flooring that remains today.

  • The rooms in the house are filled with random historical artifacts. One of the artifacts is the bed that Prince Arthur is believed to have slept in when he stayed as a guest.

  • Today the Old Depot is used for private functions such as weddings, parties and family reunions.


4. Independent Coal and Lumber Co. Ltd


10:00 am

Independent Coal Sign-1.jpg
Independent Coal Sign-2.jpg
  • “Independent Coal and Lumber Co. Ltd” (hereinafter referred to as “Independent Coal”) operated a sawmill on this property, which is now known as the Otter Lake Recreation Association grounds.

  • The sawmill operated for 33 years from 1933 until 1966 on this very location.

  • The land was originally purchased by Adolph Zimmerling who built the mill in 1933. It was later sold to Garnet Zimmerling who sold it to Theo Zimmerling. “Independent Coal” purchased the mill from Theo in 1946.

  • “Independent Coal” was based in Ottawa where it stored and delivered coal and lumber to its customers. Besides Otter Lake it had another large sawmill operation in Buckingham.

  • The Otter Lake mill employed from 50 to 60 men and at one time it had the largest payroll in Otter Lake. The mill superintendents were Basil Quaile (1947-1954) and Clifford Hahn (1954-1966)

  • “Independent Coal” cut logs at its own limits and also bought logs from other sources. They were hauled in “Independent Coal’s” own logging trucks and dumped into the lake where they were immediately used or stored in booms until needed. Booms were long trees chained together to encircle the floating logs so they would not float away. A boat then towed the boom to some other part of the lake.

  • The steam driven mill sawed about four million feet of lumber per year. Steam was generated by burning sawdust and wood slabs. A cement pad from the mill is still evident today.

  • The lumber was stored in a drying yard until it was transported in “Independent Coal’s” fleet of trucks to outside points.

  • Eastern white cedar was used in the shingle mill to produce four types of shingles.

  • When the mill closed in 1966 a number of the employees obtained employment at “Consolidated Bathurst’s” new mill in Portage du Fort.

  • In 1969 the land was sold to the Otter Lake Recreation Association for $10,000 payable over 20 years with no interest. It was the personal relationship that Raymond Johnston had with the Mahoney family (“Independent Cole” owners) that resulted in such a favourable deal for Otter Lake. The money was raised by a group of dedicated volunteers who organized fundraising events.


5. Picanoc Log Drive


10:00 am

  • Philemon Wright logged the Ottawa Valley in the early 1800’s. He was the first to float a raft of timbers from Ottawa to Québec City. The voyage took two months to complete and signalled a turning point in the exploitation of the Ottawa Valley’s timberlands. The process became known as the “log drive”. It was an economical way of transporting logs from the wilderness to the mills before modern day roads and trucks.

  • The Picanoc River was used to float logs from the Picanoc area to mills in the Gatineau area. The Picanoc drive started at Head Lake (about 10 km south of the Usborne), went through the Lake of Otter Lake, then north east to near Gracefield, where it joined with the Gatineau river. The drive then proceeded south down the Gatineau River to the Ottawa River where the mills were located.

  • The Picanoc River was about 85 kilometers long. It was a further 95 kilometers down the Gatineau River from Gracefield to Gatineau.

  • Logs were cut in the winter & stored on the river ice and banks. When the spring thaw was underway and the water levels were high, the logs began their trek to the mills.

  • Frequently logs got caught on the shore edges. Sometimes they would block the river and a log jam was created. A crew of log drivers were responsible to keep the logs floating down the river. When a jam started the drivers rushed to it and tried to break it up using peaveys or pike poles (a pole with a spike on the end) and possibly dynamite. It was an extremely dangerous occupation with the drivers standing on the moving logs and running from one log to another. The drivers had to ensure they did not fall into the icy water and drown. This job required some understanding of physics, strong muscles, and extreme agility.

  • In 1957 two Otter Lake residents drowned during the Picanoc log drive when their boat overturned in rapids. They were Maxime St. Aubin, 37, and Antoine Gauthier, 39, both fathers of families of six children. They were cousins. Both men were experienced log drivers.

  • It was estimated that 8% of logs transported an average distance by water became waterlogged and sank to the river bottom. There are companies today that reclaim this submerged timber (commonly known as deadheads) that were cut during the logging boom from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. Most of these timbers can be recognized by the ax marks at the end of the log. Deadheads periodically float just below the surface of the water and can be a hazard to today’s boaters.

  • The last log drive on the Gatineau River was in 1992.

  • The Picanoc River is highly regarded by outdoor enthusiasts. It is a class/grade II river, with some sections gaining class/grade III difficulty (rating based upon the International Scale of River Difficulty).

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