Harrington Lake in Chelsea, Quebec

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Embassy of Canada to Jordan Facebook
Nestled approximately 35 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, Harrington Lake (French: La résidence du lac Mousseau) is a serene and picturesque spot in Chelsea, Quebec. While it serves as the summer residence and all-season retreat for the Prime Minister of Canada, its rich history and natural beauty make it a place worth exploring, even if only from afar.

A Glimpse into the Past

The history of Harrington Lake dates back to the 19th century when families like the Harringtons and Mousseaus settled in the area. Originally known as "lac Mousseau" in French and "Harrington Lake" in English, the lake became a focal point for the Mousseau family, who initially built a farm along its shores. However, due to the challenging terrain of the Gatineau Hills, the lumber industry gradually replaced farming as the primary economic activity.

From Farm to Retreat

In the 1920s, Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Macpherson Edwards, recognizing the land's recreational value, acquired part of the property from his uncle and replaced the old mill buildings with a charming 16-room cottage. Over time, the lake and surrounding land were acquired by the Canadian government in 1951 to preserve natural areas around the capital.

Prime Ministerial Retreat

The turning point for Harrington Lake came in 1959 when it was chosen as the official country residence for Canada's Prime Ministers. The tranquil surroundings and recreational opportunities made it an ideal retreat for political leaders. Notably, during Pierre Trudeau's prime ministership, his then-wife Margaret added a vegetable garden, a legacy that continued through subsequent administrations.

One Lake, Two Names: A Historical Anecdote

The dual identity of Harrington Lake, known as "lac Mousseau" in French and "Harrington Lake" in English, reflects its rich history shaped by the Harrington and Mousseau families who settled in the area. The lumber industry eventually took precedence, marking a shift in the economic activities around the lake.

Public Vocation and Government Custodianship

In 1951, the federal government acquired the property, initiating the lake's transition into a secluded retreat for Canada's prime ministers. Stanley Healey, the first government caretaker, played a crucial role in winning Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's support for the creation of an official country residence. Since then, Harrington Lake has remained a symbol of seclusion and natural beauty.

Present-Day Oasis

Managed by the National Capital Commission (NCC) since 1988, Harrington Lake spans 5.4 hectares and includes a main cottage, a farmhouse, and several secondary structures. This hidden oasis serves dual purposes, hosting both official functions and private events. Visitors may not have access to the prime minister's residence, but the surrounding beauty and historical significance make Harrington Lake a must-see destination, even if only from a distance.

As a local recommendation in Chelsea, we invite you to explore the beauty of Harrington Lake and immerse yourself in the rich history that has shaped this hidden gem in the heart of Quebec's Gatineau Hills. While you're here, remember to embrace the warmth of Chelsea, a beautiful place with friendly locals who hope you'll leave the area even better than you found it.

But hold on a second!  As much as we'd love to invite you to experience this tranquil retreat firsthand, it's important to note that Harrington Lake is currently closed to the public. Yes, you read that right—even the Chelsea locals are unable to access this hidden gem.
Private Lake, not accessible to the general people
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Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais Regional County Municipality, QC J0X 2G0

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