The Ottawa Citizen Online City Page
Friday 22 June 2001
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'Gatineau' wins as name of new city

Choice favoured by majority of West Quebec residents

Dave Rogers, with files from Joanne Laucius
The Ottawa Citizen

West Quebec residents skipped the picturesque selections and went for the familiar when choosing a name for their new municipality.

"Gatineau" will be the name of the urban municipality, the Outaouais transition committee has decided.

The committee's choice bumped aside Trois Portages (a reference to the three major canoe portages between the Chaudiere Falls and the Deschenes Rapids), Asticou (Algonquin for "place where the water foams"), Montferrand (after legendary lumberjack Jos Montferrand) and Rivemont (French for riverbanks and hills).

Instead, the name that evoked the park and the river was the favourite of the majority of people surveyed by the Hull polling company Reseau Circum.

The decision means that only about half of the residents in the new municipality will have to change their addresses -- Gatineau is already the most populous city in the Outaouais.

The name reflects the geography and francophone character of the region, committee chairman Gilbert Lacasse said yesterday.

Mr. Lacasse said Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Louise Harel gave him authority to release the name yesterday and final approval by the provincial government is probably only a formality.

Christine Mitton, a spokeswoman for Ms. Harel, said cabinet will probably consider the name next week. Cabinet will also consider the names Hull and Trois Portages.

Mr. Lacasse said the transition committee wanted one new and two traditional French names. Trois Portages was the only new name acceptable to Quebec's toponomy commission.

Mr. Lacasse said Gatineau has the potential to unify urban residents in West Quebec. A telephone survey of 850 Outaouais residents showed 55 per cent would be proud to live in Gatineau and 51 per cent would be proud to live in Hull.

Trois Portages had the support of 35 per cent of those surveyed. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, said Reseau Circum president Benoit Gauthier.

"The new city is the gateway to the celebrated Gatineau Park and the Gatineau Valley," he said. "Its Hot Air Balloon Festival spans continents and confers to the name an enviable reputation abroad. Gatineau represents the growth and dynamism that characterize this new city."

Gatineau Mayor Robert Labine said Gatineau is the logical choice because the name is widely recognized and only half the people of the region would have to change their addresses.

"If we use the name of Gatineau, 50 per cent of the population will have to change their home addresses for their credit cards and driver's licences," Mr. Labine said.

"If we choose Hull, 75 per cent will be obliged to change."

Hull Mayor Yves Ducharme, said he isn't disappointed the committee chose Gatineau.

"It is up to the citizens of the new city back the new name and it is up to the provincial government to help us market the name," Mr. Ducharme said. "If the Quebec government decides that Gatineau is the name, I will back it and be an ambassador for the city."

The Hull Casino and Hull Olympiques hockey team will have to decide for themselves whether to keep the name Hull, he said.

"They could keep it because people will still say they live in Hull, Aylmer or some other sector of the new municipality."

Buckingham Mayor Jocelyne Houle said residents of the municipality prefer the name Outaouais, but added she would accept Gatineau or Hull.

"You can tell it is a new city if you have a new name, but why erase the past?" Ms. Houle asked. "We have history with the names of Hull or Gatineau."

The new city of 225,000 in Aylmer, Hull, Gatineau, Buckingham and Masson-Angers comes into being on Jan. 1, 2002.