Located near the small town of Hawkesbury on the banks of the Ottawa River is Champlain, a quiet bilingual township whose waterfront overlooks the Laurentian Mountains. Formed in 1998 as a result of the amalgamation of the townships of West Hawkesbury and Longueuil and the villages of Vankleek Hill, and L’Orignal, Champlain has a lot to offer entrepreneurs, families and small business owners that are looking for a small municipality close to large urban centres. Whether it be L’Orignal or Vankleek Hill, the area has kept many of its original architectural treasures and historical sites, such as the second most ancient prison in Canada, a museum and an observation tower.
Land Area, km2
Manufacturing, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Hawkesbury, Papineauville, Ottawa
The streets of L’Orignal – Eastern Ontario’s oldest village – are lined with well-manicured historical houses which many volunteers work tirelessly to preserve. Every year L’Orignal attracts many visitors to The Old Jail as well as to their beach, marina and waterfront campground. L’Orignal’s Courthouse and regional government offices are the largest employers of the area, followed closely by the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontario (CSDCEO) and IVACO Rolling Mills. Many residents of L’Orignal or Vankleek Hill work outside of the area, commuting to either Ottawa or Montreal. A lack of local employment, coupled with few education and training opportunities in the area, results in many young adults leaving to pursue post-secondary studies elsewhere – leaving behind an older population, many of who are retired.
Vankleek Hill is a quaint Victorian town with vibrant artistic and business communities. Like L’Orignal, Vankleek Hill has a dedicated group of volunteers that work hard to maintain the rich history of this Municipality’s neighborhood. Vankleek Hill’s Agricultural Fair – one of the oldest in the province – attracts numerous visitors to the town every year.
Its business park is home to companies serving local, national and international clients, is at full capacity, with entrepreneurs waiting to get in – but issues around infrastructure such as water are affecting Champlain Township’s ability to attract new business. Despite this, there have been successful businesses such as Beaus All Natural Brewing Company, a rapidly-growing employer in the area, who is bringing new vitality and opportunities to the region. Finding the necessary revenues to proceed with the modernization and investments in its infrastructure that would contribute to its growth is a definite challenge for the municipality of Champlain.
Event though infrastructure remains a priority, there are long term issues that need to be addressed such as an aging population, youth migration and a permanent offer of College and University training for French and English adults of the area. There is no doubt that Champlain has great potential for a promising future. However, there is much to be done in order to retain Champlain’s young adults and attract new investors. Luckily, the township has tremendous support from business owners, volunteers and Council members in the community who have some great opportunities in mind for growth.
Read about the Francophone history of Ontario here.