Kingsmere Lake in Chelsea, Quebec

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Nestled within the serene beauty of Gatineau Park lies Kingsmere Lake, a picturesque spot that captures the essence of natural tranquility. While public swimming is not permitted, visitors can explore the enchanting Mackenzie King Estate. With its paid parking, the estate offers a delightful visit with gardens to wander and lakeside paths to stroll. The on-site restaurant serves snacks, tea, and meals, and can host private events for up to 80 guests, making it a recommended stop for both casual visits and special occasions.

Historical Roots: A Journey Through Time

The author of the "Introduction to Kingsmere" was first introduced to this charming lake in 1935 during a winter skiing trip. Although initially drawn by its winter allure, it was the summer beauty of Kingsmere Lake that left a lasting impression. The early settlers, who arrived in the 1840s, established a thriving community, living in log cabins, cultivating gardens, and raising crops such as hay, oats, potatoes, and corn. Apple trees planted by these settlers still dot the landscape today. Notable settlers included Paddy Mullen, Jerry Keogan, and Mike Fagan, among others, who were known for their generosity and hospitality, often hosting dances and festivities.

Infrastructure and Roads: Building Connections

Early settlers constructed Ridge Road, which remains popular with skiers and hikers. Other significant roads included McClosky's Road to Meach Lake and routes to Lariault's Hill. The National Capital Commission later expanded these trails, enhancing access and connectivity. The neighboring area of Old Chelsea began to flourish around 1830, featuring a post office, store, church, and school, with the first town hall built in 1876. Lumbering became the primary industry, with sawmills and hotels like Dean's Hotel and Dunn's Hotel catering to workers and travelers.

Kingsmere: A Summer Haven

The transformation of Kingsmere into a summer resort began in the early 1880s. Originally named Loon Lake, it was later called Jeff's Lake before finally becoming Kingsmere, named after settler John King. In 1905, the Geodetic Survey Triangulation System was initiated from King's Mountain. Prominent residents and landowners included Raiff Kenney, Timothy Sheehan, and James Murphy. The community saw the development of summer cottages and year-round homes, with notable figures such as Graham Towers and Duncan MacTavish contributing to its growth.

Cottage Life and Recreation

Life in early Kingsmere involved overcoming transportation challenges, relying on horses, buggies, and stagecoaches. Homes lacked modern plumbing, with residents using wells, pumps, and outhouses. Local farmers supplied milk, cream, and eggs, while most provisions came from Chelsea. Lakefront property owners banned motorboats by mutual agreement to preserve the lake's tranquility. Kingsmere also became a hub for skiing activities before the establishment of Camp Fortune and the Ottawa Ski Club, with cross-country skiing on the mountain trails being particularly popular.

Evolution into a Vibrant Community

By 1979, Kingsmere had evolved into a suburban community, with mostly year-round homes and a few remaining summer cottages. The Kingsmere Property Owners Association and the West Hull Municipality worked to maintain the community's rich heritage and natural beauty. This historical overview by A. deL. Panel underscores Kingsmere's journey from a pioneer settlement to a vibrant suburban enclave, celebrating its enduring charm and historical significance.

Kingsmere Lake, with its rich history and stunning natural scenery, continues to be a cherished destination for visitors and residents alike. Whether exploring the Mackenzie King Estate, walking along the tranquil lakeside paths, or delving into the community's storied past, Kingsmere offers a unique blend of beauty and heritage that captivates all who visit.

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Chelsea, Quebec J9B 1G8

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