The Victoria and Chaudière Islands precinct ( Chaudière Heritage District) is of extremely significant local and national historical importance. This archipelago at the ancient Chaudière Falls, Ottawa River, Canada’s Capital Region, has served: as a sacred meeting place for Aboriginal Peoples; as the incubator of the resource-based industries which brought about the very development of the Region and of Canada; as a key node on the major transportation route into the interior of this vast land. Today, it is a very special cultural landscape: a natural wonder; a post-industrial brownfield; a collection of intimate, concealed spaces to be explored; a gallery of romantic ruins; a venue for a broad range of watery experiences; a spiritual oasis; a National Treasure.
Ironically, the vast majority of local residents and Canadians in general, know little or nothing about the heritage significance and shrouded beauty of this place. It has no “presence”. Today, the district is derelict and largely cut-off from the public. Important heritage buildings, sites and artifacts are unprotected and disintegrating. Its remarkable natural environment is choked. It is a sad reality for such a hauntingly beautiful, nationally significant site that exemplifies the “Cradle of Canadian Civilization”, sitting on Confederation Boulevard in our Capital.
There is however, a blossoming of interest and opportunity for this natural and built heritage place in the shadow of Parliament‘s Peace Tower. This opportunity speaks to the next evolution of the site, in tune with the future as well as the past. It speaks to how the site, symbolically located at the “crossroads” of English, French and Aboriginal Canada, is filled with potential for cultural interpretation, and indeed for the next chapter in its captivating story.