Planet Suffolk: Bringing together the Suffolks of the world

Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk, Papineau Regional County Municipality, Quebec, Canada

Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk is a part of the Papineau Regional County Municipality in the Outaouais region of Quebec, Canada. It is located at 45° 56’ N 74° 55’ W, approximately 70 miles northwest of Montreal & 50 miles northeast of Ottawa.

Population:- In 2021 the population was 512.

How to get there:-

By Road: From Montreal, take Autoroute15 northbound before merging with QC-117 westbound. Take exit 117 for QC-323 at Brébeuf & head west.
From Ottawa, head east on Autoroute de l'Outaouais/Autoroute 50, then QC-148 eastbound, before taking QC-317 northbound. Turn onto QC-321 northbound at C
ote-Saint-Pierre, At Cheneville head west on QC-315, before turning north onto QC-323.
If approaching from the north, take QC117 southbound, then QC-323.

No rail service.

Nearest major airports are Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International & Ottawa/
Macdonald-Cartier International.

Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5 hrs).  Daylight saving time in summer +1 hr.


Order of contents on this page: (Click on the links below)

History & Derivation of Name

Lac Suffolk

Ruisseau Suffolk (Suffolk Creek)

Papineau Regional County Municipality


See also Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk album in the Photo Gallery



History & Derivation of Name

Under French rule “seigneuries” were established in New France (Quebec) by land grants from the King.  Seigneurial tenure was a legal and economic basis for settlement.  It was a fief granted to a lord (or “seigneur” in French) whose duty was to bring in settlers and charge them rents and dues for the use of land.  In return, the “seigneur” enjoyed feudal privileges with the right of jurisdiction over the settlers.  In 1674 the “Seigneurie de la Petite-Nation” was created on the northern bank of the Grand (Ottawa) River.  This was a large landholding detached from the other smaller “seigneuries” along the St Lawrence River.  It was a rectangular piece of territory stretching 5 leagues along the Ottawa River and 5 leagues inland (a French “league” at this time was about 5 miles).  It was named after the Algonquin tribe called La Petite-Nation which had previously inhabited the area.  This would have been the first European settlement in this part of Canada.  However, having made the grant the French Crown only allowed one trading post to be built and prohibited any settlement, as the territory was considered too distant to defend.  In addition, the authorities did not want to jeopardise the Ottawa Valley fur trade.  The territory around Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk was just outside the area of this “seigneurie” immediately to its north, and at that time was thick mountainous forestland, described as “wasteland” not worth settlement.

The British retained the system of “seigneuries” when they annexed New France in 1763.  In 1791 the British divided the territory into Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (now Quebec).  The Ottawa River was the dividing line between these two provinces with the land to the north of the river part of Lower Canada, thus the future Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk ended up in Quebec.  In May 1792 Lieutenant-Governor Alured Clarke introduced the system of counties and townships on the land where “seigneuries” had not been established.  Lower Canada was divided into 21 counties.  Of these, 15 were given British names, mainly after English counties, and the future Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk was placed in the County of York.  In 1828 the counties were modified and the new counties were given French names; the territory was now placed in the County of Ottawa (Outaouais).  With the re-emergence of control over the administration in Quebec by the French-Canadians, the original English names for counties and townships were gradually changed to French ones; a process that began in 1828 and continued into the latter part of the 20th century.  

Townships were designated to cover most of the territories not already occupied or granted to those of European descent.  They were given as “concessions” to an individual who became responsible for bringing in settlers and developing the township.  The usual size was 10 miles by 10 miles, although this could vary according to conditions at the time of the grant.  They were basically units drawn on a map.  Just because a “township” existed on a map did not mean that the area had been settled.  Because of the lack of population it was common to unite two townships for ease of administration, and they were frequently subject to divisions and mergers (see The Ones That Got Away page to see how this affected Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk, otherwise known as the Township of Suffolk).  The names first given to these townships by the colonial authorities were invariably based on British, mainly English, locations or prominent British statesmen of that period.  There was no obvious pattern to their application, it was purely arbitrary, although there was occasionally a connection between some of the townships.  In 1792 along the north bank of the Ottawa River there were three townships planned: Grenville, Suffolk, and Templeton with another named Norfolk to the north of Suffolk in the interior.  Two were named after the related political families of Grenville and Temple in England, and the other two after the easternmost counties of England.    

The Township of Suffolk
(see The Ones That Got Away page) first appeared on the Gale and Duberger map of 1795.  However, this was located on the Ottawa River to the west of La Petite-Nation.  In 1807, when it was granted to Archibald McMillan from Scotland, it was renamed the Township of Lochaber.  The embryonic Township of Suffolk was then moved inland to replace Norfolk, but remained unorganised territory, and was not granted out at that time.

The main influence on the future Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk rested with the French-Canadian “Seigneurie de la Petite-Nation”.  In 1801 and 1803 Joseph-Louis Papineau, a leading politician in Quebec, purchased the “seigneurie” and became its feudal lord.  He immediately began settlement of his domain which became hereditary in the Papineau family.  By 1850 the “seigneurie” had over 3,000 inhabitants, easily the dominant settlement area in the region.  It was in 1841 that the first settlers arrived in the northwest part of La Petite-Nation where Saint-André-Avellin is today located.  Among them was the Quesnel family.  The family was mostly composed of entrepreneurs and merchants, and in the Montebello and Saint-André-Avellin areas of La Petite-Nation they owned at least four general stores.  The settlement of the Township of Suffolk revolved around one of the members of this family, Émile Quesnel, born in the province of Quebec in 1839.  Émile Quesnel, already well established with a general store at Saint-André-Avellin by the time he was 20 years old, was eager to expand his activities further north.  He acquired lots in the Township and acted as a land agent for the government.  In this capacity he was able to offer advice to settlers, arrange patents for their land and provide everything that they would need from his store.  Despite the hardships that people faced in developing farms in the region, the wealth of the forests attracted the pioneers of the forest industry and the first settlers who arrived in about 1860 were also heavily involved in the logging industry; Émile Quesnel establishing the first logging site in the Township.

Although the name “Suffolk” survived, the territory was as yet unorganised.  As settlement progressed slowly northward from the Ottawa River, the provincial authorities organised each subsequent rectangular block of land into townships, naming them after English locations or politicians.  In date order they were: Ripon (1855) north of Lochaber, named after the Yorkshire town; Hartwell (1864), to the north of Ripon, named after the place in Buckinghamshire; Suffolk (1874) to the east of Hartwell; Ponsonby (1876) to the east of Suffolk, named after an English politician; and Addington (1892) to the immediate north of Suffolk, named after Henry Addington, the prime minister of the United Kingdom (1801-1804).

The Township of Suffolk itself (See The Ones That Got Away page) was established on 22 May 1874 .  At the time, it included about 23 homes on government land.  Administratively, because of the small population of the early townships, they were often merged with each other.  Suffolk was part of the United Townships of Hartwell-et-Suffolk, 1867/70 to 1880, and the United Townships of Suffolk-et-Addington, 1885 to 1994. 

The Township of Suffolk was formally organised on 1 January 1881 when it became a separate municipality from Hartwell, by which time there were 164 families in the township.  The first post office was opened in 1885.  On 22 December 1887, Émile Quesnel died at Saint-André-Avellin.  In 1889 the Parish of Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk was formed.  This name paid tribute to Émile Quesnel because of his generosity towards the early settlers of the area, and the parish was dedicated to the Christian martyr, St. Émile, a native of Carthage who was burnt at the stake in c.250.  Parishes were religious administrative divisions, quite separate from the municipality arrangement, which remained the Township of Suffolk.  
Finally, on 19 February 1994, the name was officially changed to that of the Municipality of Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk.  Today, the main economy of the town is still the timber industry because the surrounding hardwood forests are vast and of very commercial quality.  It has also become a holiday resort for hunting and fishing in the numerous lakes of the area, as well as being a centre for winter sports and recreations.

The other villages connected to the Township of Suffolk were occupied at different periods.  In 1865 Namur to the southwest was settled by people from the Belgian province of that name.  It became a separate municipality in 1964.  Further to the southwest was Vinoy which was settled in 1871.  This separated in 1920 as Suffolk-Partie-Ouest (Suffolk-West) - (see The Ones That Got Away page).  

In the wider context, the municipalities were part of the County of Ottawa to 1919 when another change brought them into the County of Papineau.  In the 1980s the counties of Quebec were replaced by MRCs (municipalités régionales de comté), and on 1 January 1983 Papineau became one such.  This name recalls the family who were lords (seigneurs) of La Petite-Nation until 1854 when the seigneuries were abolished.

A lake and a stream that take their name from the former Township of Suffolk are to be found in the vicinity of Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk (see below).

Please don't forget to sign the Guestbook

Top of Page

Lac Suffolk

This is located at 45° 52’ N 74° 51’ W.  It is four miles west of the municipality of Boileau in the Papineau Regional County Municipality.  This is a region of some 88 lakes.  Lac Suffolk is west of Lac Brymer and southwest of Lac Charles.  It is an anglers’ lake with sockeye salmon, northern pike and carp in abundance.  Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk is to the northwest of the lake.

Top of Page

Ruisseau Suffolk (Suffolk Creek)

This is a stream (ruisseau is French for stream or creek) just to the west of the municipality of Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix in the Papineau Regional County Municipality, located at 45° 49’ N 74° 58’ W.  It is 4.6 miles in length and flows into the Petite-Rivière-Rouge (Little Red River), on which Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix is located.  This municipality is directly south of Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk.

Top of Page

Papineau Regional County Municipality

Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk is in the Papineau Regional County Municipality (Municipalité régionale de comté de Papineau) in the Outaouais Region of southern Quebec. The county was incorporated in 1983 and is nicknamed the land of green gold. To the north & east Papineau is bordered by the Antoine-Labelle, Argenteuil & Les Laurentides Regional County Municipalities of the Laurentides Region. To the west & northwest the county joins the Outaouais Region municipalities of La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau & Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais, whilst in the south the Ottawa River forms the border with the province of Ontario. The population of Papineau in 2016 was 22,832. The regional seat is Papineauville, approximately 25 miles to the south of Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk. The region is named after Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786 –1871), who was a Montreal born politician, lawyer & leader of the Patriote movement at the time of the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–38. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1848.

The region is in the Laurentian Mountains, which stretch across southern Quebec. Forestry, tourism & agriculture are the main industries of the region.

Why not sign the Guestbook?

Top of Page