One of the most scenic and storied corners of the Ottawa River Valley is the area known today as the municipality of Saint-André-d’Argenteuil. Saint-André is composed of the former villages of St. Andrew’s East (Saint-André-Est) and Carillon. Carillon, overlooking the magnificent Ottawa River, is the site of the formidable Long-Sault Rapids, where a massive power dam provides Hydro-Quebec with electricity. Carillon is also the start of the historic Carillon-Grenville Canal (1816-1843). The area around the start of the canal is now a National Historic Site of Canada.
Carillon is also home to some splendid early and mid-nineteenth century residences and public buildings, many of them built entirely of locally quarried stone. One of the most imposing structures in Carillon is a building referred to as “the Barracks.” Owned by Parks Canada, the Barracks is a sprawling Georgian edifice built of stone. It was originally used to store material for the construction of the Carillon Canal during the 1830s. Later, it housed British soldiers during the Lower Canada Rebellions. Eventually, the building was transformed into a hotel serving passengers of steamers plying the Ottawa River as far as Carillon (before completion of the canal, the Long Sault Rapids obstructed all river traffic).
In 1938, the Barracks were converted once again – this time into a museum of regional history. Ever since, the Argenteuil Historical Society and Museum has been headquartered here. Today, the Argenteuil Regional Museum is home to an eclectic collection of artifacts that testify to the fascinating history of this corner of Quebec. In all, over 6,000 objects tell the story of the pioneers of Argenteuil County’s – including those of both greater and lesser renown. The museum has nine permanent exhibition rooms. These include the River Room; the World of the Seigneurs of Argenteuil; the Military Kitchen; a memorial display on pioneer woman doctor Maude Abbott and her kinsman, Canadian Prime Minister John C. Abbott; the Victorian Parlour; the Canopy Bedroom; the Fine Arts Room; a Costumes Room; and a Natural History Room. In addition, numerous temporary thematic exhibitions add depth to any visit to the museum. The Barracks themselves are, of course, a highlight of any visit to the museum. The building is a splendid example of Colonial Georgian architecture, in a remarkable state of preservation.
The Argenteuil Regional Museum is located at 44 Route du Long-Sault, Saint-André-d’Argenteuil (Carillon). For museum hours, admission fees and other information, call (450) 537-3861.