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Hidden Gems: The ruins in Gatineau Park

By Maksim Apelfeld on June 5, 2014

As someone that has grown up and lived in a city environment for most of his life, I often realize how deprived I am of nature and the outdoors. Although I spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer, I still feel that going for a jog or a bike ride along the canal is not exactly what I’m looking for. There’s nothing quite like the experience of leaving civilization behind and going for a hike to get away from all that city noise. This spring-time urge for outdoor exploration hit me two weekends ago, and I decided to do something about it!

As an inexperienced hiker, I had to tone-down my initial craving for a three-week camping trip in Northern Ontario. With only a weekend to work with, and a strong desire to avoid being mauled by bears, I decided to opt for a more modest adventure. Armed with my camera, I set out for the uncharted wilderness of Gatineau Park.

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I decided to check out a spot that I had noticed a few times before in photographs of the park: a rocky stream and small waterfall running next to an abandoned concrete building, with the Gatineau woods in the background. After a bit of research and a helpful chat with a friend, I learned that the spot I had in mind is called the Carbide Wilson Ruins, more commonly known as The Ruins. The site was once an experimental facility built by Thomas Wilson in 1911 to support his fertilizer research. Complete with a small electric power station that was powered by the stream, a collapsed dam, and a small arched bridge spanning across the water, this was a functioning research facility in the heart of the Gatineau Hills 100 years ago. Though long since abandoned, it is a great place to explore when hiking in Gatineau Park and a terrific spot for photographers out there looking for some interesting scenery.

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To get to The Ruins take Chemin du Lac Meech from Chelsea, and park at the O’Brien Beach Parking Lot (P11). From the parking area follow the main trail up the hill, across a bridge, and stay on the right as the trail eventually splits. You should be able to get to the Ruins in half-an-hour, walking at a casual pace. It is usually a good idea to wear long sleeves and have some sort of bug repellent to ward off the mosquitoes.

Maksim Apelfeld is a contributing photographer for Ground Floor Photography, a local, Ottawa-based blog and online print shop, specializing in fine-art photographic prints for home décor.