Before January 1, 2002, there were five cities on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River: Hull, Gatineau, Aylmer, Buckingham, and Masson-Angers. Hull was still considered the primary city within this region although Gatineau now had more population, so when the cities were amalgamated the name Gatineau was retained because it was more representative of the region (f.ex, a federal park to the north-west of the new city encompasses the Gatineau Hills, and is called "Parc de la Gatineau," Hull and Gatineau are divided by a river called "Riviere de la Gatineau," etc) and the primarily francophone community wanted an appropriately French name. Most of the citizens live in the dense cores of Aylmer, Hull and old Gatineau. Buckingham and Masson-Angers are more rural communities.
A number of federal offices are located in Gatineau due to its proximity to the capital. Another important attraction is the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
A number of provincial offices of the Government of Quebec are located in Gatineau due to its status of main town of the Outaouais region of Quebec. Still another important attraction is the Lac Leamy Casino.
At the end of August and the beginning of September there is an annual hot air balloon festival which fills the skies with colorful gas-fired passenger balloons.
There are many parks. Some of them are well gardened playgrounds or resting spaces while others are relatively wild green areas which often merge with the woods and fields of the surrounding municipalities. Streams of all sizes run through these natural expanses. Most of the city is on flat ground but the Northern and Eastern parts lie on the beginnings of the foothills of the massive Canadian shield, or Laurentide mountains. These are the "Gatineau Hills", and are visible, in the background of the companion picture.
The city contains a campus of the Université du Québec, the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO).
It is also the home of Le College de l'Outaouais, a junior college with 625 employees on two campuses.
Gatineau has a municipal airport capable of handling small jets. There are Canada customs facilities for aircraft coming from outside Canada, a car rental counter and a restaurant. Since September 2003 there are regular daily flights to and from Quebec City.
For most purposes, Ottawa and Gatineau are considered to be a single metropolitan area. (See also: Twin cities.)
However, the transportation infrastructures, or the lack of common ones, ensures a sharp divide in quite a few instances. Ottawa and Gatineau have two distinct bus-based public transport systems with only minimal interconnections and different fare structures. Passes and tickets of one are not accepted in the other. Many Gatineau highways and major arteries feed directly into the bridges crossing over to Ottawa, but once there the roads land into the dense downtown grid or in residential areas, with no easy connection to the only highway in Ottawa, the East-West 417 or Queensway.
|North: Chelsea, Cantley, Val-des-Monts, L'Ange-Gardien
|East: Mayo, Lochaber-Partie-Ouest