Buckingham was a city located in the Outaouais region of the province of Quebec. Since January 1, 2002, it has been part of the amalgamated city of Gatineau which merged five former municipalities, including Masson-Angers, Buckingham, Hull, Aylmer, and Gatineau, into a single entity. According to the 2011 Census the population of the town was 23,589 at that time.
It was in 1799, that land in this area was granted to John Robertson, a former member of a British regiment. The first people settled in Buckingham in 1823 and the first mill was built. More people would move to Buckingham in the years that followed.
The launch of the lumber industry
In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte initiated a continental blockade which forced Great Britain to look to other sources for importing lumber. Soon, large wooded areas were discovered in Lower Canada, including the area that would become the Outaouais region. The lumber industry would be central to the region's economic development for over a century with wood pulp continuing to be important for several decades afterwards. It was only in 1837 that the first sawmill was built by the Bigelow group.
The MacLaren family
Throughout its history, the city of Buckingham's economy has been dominated by the MacLaren dynasty, which controlled several spheres of activities.
The MacLaren family, who have resided in the region since 1840, have dominated the lumber industry in the Outaouais for over a century. It was in 1864, that James MacLaren launched the family's activities in Buckingham by building a sawmill. The company became J. MacLaren & Co. and later The James McLaren Company Limited. James' two brothers later acquired the company after his death in 1892 and then launched a match company in Buckingham in 1894 which was incorporated a year later. The MacLarens later gained control of the hydroelectricity market in the community and also real estate development and sports facilities. The company would build a hydro dam along the Du Lièvre River, just north of Buckingham, at the start of the Great Depression. They would later built another one near Masson during the 1950s.
In 1902, the MacLaren group added the wood pulp industry to its activities by building a mill. They would later expand their activities across the region, adding mills in Masson, Mont-Laurier and Thurso located not to far from the Du Lièvre River. The Buckingham mill would close shortly before 1960.
From 1975 to 1980 the township of Buckingham, Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette, L'Ange-Gardien, Buckingham-Sud-Est, Buckingham-Ouest, Angers, and Masson were amalgamated.
Population growth has been relatively slow because of its location about 30 km from Downtown Ottawa. However, due to suburban growth and amalgamation of the town in 2002, several residential developments were created and the population increased. Buckingham is becoming more of a suburban town while still keeping its traditional characteristics in the centre-town area.
Amalgamation with the city of Gatineau
On January 1, 2002, the city of Buckingham with its 12,000 residents became part of the new city of Gatineau. This was part of a massive merger movement created by the Parti Québécois' Bill 180, which was introduced in 2000 by Municipal Affairs Minister Louise Harel after studies conducted by public agents.
In 2003, the Quebec Liberal Party, with Jean Charest as the leader won the 2003 provincial election and promised a referendum would be held for the possibility of demerging municipalities. The referendum was held on June 20, 2004, but the majority of the population voted against the demerger and Buckingham thus remained part of the city of Gatineau.
The dairy industry was also a major economy asset in the community with Le Chateau having some of its operations in Buckingham. However, in 2006, Agrodor, a Saguenay-based company which owns the Chateau brand announced the shut-down of its operations in the Outaouais. The local business sector had launched measures to save the company which has operated in the region since 1943.
Buckingham en Fete
Each year since 1991, during the month of July, the Buckingham sector hosts Buckingham en Fete, its biggest annual event, which is held in the town's MacLaren Park. Several well-known artists in Quebec and in Canada including Eric Lapointe, Marjo, Jean Leloup La Chicane, Amanda Marshall and April Wine have performed over the years at the festival. However, due to financial difficulties, the festival nearly disappeared. According to the festival's website the 17th edition in 2007 is still expected to go underway as planned.
Over its history, the festival has received numerous distinctions and awards both regionally and provincially.
- Population counts, for census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations by urban core, urban fringe, rural fringe and urban areas, 2011 census
- Historique/ History Buckingham (Québec) Canada, Maclaren Etc
- Le Droit (2006-12-23). "Un plan B pour la relance de la laiterie Château (Plan B for relaunch of dairy company)". Le Droit. p. 5.
- Le Droit (2006-12-29). "Soixante-trois ans d'histoire (sixty-three years of history)". Le Droit. p. 3.
- Verner, Stephanie (2006-11-12). "Buckingham en Fête : plus en vie que jamais!". Le Bulletin de la Lievre (Buckingham). p. 3.