Charles Symmes, nephew of Philemon Wright and founder of Aylmer (the region’s original administrative centre), built this hotel in 1831 to accommodate travellers coming by steamboat from Montreal. They were required to land in Wrightstown, now Hull, in order to avoid the Chaudière Falls. The passengers then travelled by stagecoach along the historic Aylmer Road to the Symmes Inn before embarking on a steamboat
to continue upriver.
Situated on the banks of the Ottawa River, the Symmes Inn is the centrepiece of Aylmer’s heritage, cultural and tourist district, which is also the most significant and best preserved area of Gatineau’s historic buildings. Nearby are the old Ottawa District Court House; the British Hotel, centre of much of Aylmer’s social life (and which for many years attracted the region’s elite, including Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Charles Tupper); the Judge McCord House, which was later occupied by two mayors; and the home of lumber baron John Egan, Aylmer’s first mayor and Member of Parliament.
A symbol of pride for the people of the region, the Symmes Inn was designated as an historic monument in 1975 and restored in 1978. In 2002, the new city of Gatineau proclaimed the Symmes Inn its most important heritage site or “Heritage Gem”. Since 2003, the Inn has housed the regional history museum of Gatineau.