Fed up of the crowds and line-ups on the Ottawa? Fancy a change of pace? Then the Gatineau river is for you, in rural Quebec, where the pace of life is just as it should be, and the rivers are always entertaining. The river is no soft touch though, especially in high water, with some large rapids, and lines you need to be on. Like most of the large rivers in this part of Canada, the Gatineau was used for logging drives until relatively recently. The amount of timber in the river is not as much as it was, but there is definitely a lot still there.
For a taste of the unique culture of the French Canadian boater, arrange your visit for the annual Gatineau Festival in August. Alternatively, in spring when the levels are right, there is some world class playboating at the waves in High Tension.
The river has quite a lot of whitewater for its length, and often there are multiple routes to take around islands and different chutes. The most well-used route is to take the left channel when faced with a choice of which side of an island to go to. The first significant rapid, Lucifers, has some stoppers that range from large to enormous, depending on the flow. Sneak to the left, or try to go between them! After a flat section, the next rapid (Du Corbeau) has a line down the middle, between a log jam on the right, and a truly horrendous pour-over on the left. Soon, you will see some powerlines overhead, which means that you are about to hit Haute Tension rapid, the site of a legendary surfwave in high water. In more normal flows, this is a good fun ride through, with flow pushing through to Le Mur (The Wall) rapid. Stick left of the next island, and then float on down to the surf wave just by the Bonnet Rouge campground and the take out.
To get to the take out; From Route 105, take the turning into Bouchette on Rue Principale. This is about 25 km South of Maniwaki. Keep right, and take the right turn onto Rue du Pont. If you know any French at all, you will not be surprised that you will shortly cross the river. Turn left onto Chemin de la Riviere Gatineau N. In 8.5 km, turn left onto Chemin de la Riviere Gatineau, and after a few more kilometres, turn left into Bonnet Rouge Rafting and Campground. There is usually a small fee to pay, both here and at the put in.
To get to the put in; Head north on Chemin de la Riviere Gatineau and Chemin de Sainte Therese. At the T-intersection, turn left onto QC-107, and in 2 km, turn left again onto Chemin Godin. Follow this (turning left to stay on Chemin Godin) and turn right into number 193.