Regional Portraits

Outaouais (07)


Geography and administration

The Outaouais region has a natural boundary to the south with the province of Ontario, i.e. the Rivière des Outaouais, which gave the region its name. Abitibi-Témiscamingue is its neighbour to the northwest and Laurentides to the east.

The region has 67 municipalities and 6 unorganized territories, divided into 4 regional county municipalities (French acronym MRC):

Outisde of the MRCs, there are two Indian reserves, Kitigan Zibi and Lac-Rapide, as well as Gatineau, which is the region’s most populous municipality.

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Agriculture, fisheries and food

In the region, agricultural production is concentrated mainly in the Outaouais, Gatineau and Petite-Nation river valleys. The calibre of the land used for cultivation and grazing is due to a wide variety of soils and climates, as well as the region's high-quality water. Much of the territory is in the hands of the agricultural sector. Beef, dairy, market gardening and small berry production predominate in the region.

The important consumer base of the Ottawa-Gatineau region affects the demand for produce of all kinds. There is growing demand for fresh, locally grown produce.

In Outaouais, there are also numerous vacation areas, serving as a boon to the agri-food sector. In recent years, business diversification and a growth in agro-processing have resulted, among other things, in the creation of a number of public markets, cheese shops and craft bakeries. Many of these enterprises sell their products along gourmet routes and at farm sale stands.

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Economy and employment

The economy of the Outaouais region is characterized by the marked presence of activities related to services to the population, although there is also secondary sector activity (manufacturing and construction) along with activity in the primary sector (logging, agriculture and mining).

The Outaouais economy has two distinct realities, that of its urban area (Gatineau) and of its rural area (the MRCs). The first area, which is densely populated, contributes significantly to the regional economy. It is the seat of the main service activities. The second area, with its low population density, is characterized in particular by logging and agriculture.

In the early 1990s, an economic diversification process was initiated in Ottawa, and this is reflected in particular by the development of the information technology (IT) and agri-food sectors. The IT niche that has expanded most over the years has been software engineering (software design).

The region’s tourist infrastructure is also consolidating, most notably with many tourist attractions.

Lastly, crossed by the Gatineau, Outaouais and Lièvre rivers, the Outaouais region has twenty or so power plants, which contribute to Québec’s hydroelectric strength.

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Tourism, recreation and culture

With its mild climate, lakes, and rivers, the Outaouais region is a vacation destination renowned for its wide open spaces where urban and rural life admirably coexist.

As the main hub of a predominantly forested region, Gatineau has left a great deal of room for parks and cycling paths, without, however, neglecting culture. In fact, the city features numerous attractions, exhibitions, and entertainment and recreation options, particularly the Canadian Museum of History. The region also offers many other such options in its exhibition centres, artist and artisan workshops, and performance halls.

As regards the great outdoors, Montebello’s Parc Oméga offers the opportunity to observe, from one’s car, deer, elk, bison, wild boar, moose, wolves and other animals that roam freely in the park. The more adventurous can admire Chute Coulonge and continue their visit by climbing the canyon walls along the river of the same name. During the winter, tourist routes, snowmobile trails and outdoor adventure sites are also very popular.

Outaouais residents and tourists alike are invited to participate in a number of large-scale events, such as Winterlude or the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival.

Furthermore, foodies can enjoy gourmet dishes in the region's restaurants and hotels.

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