Hawkesbury is about halfway between downtown Ottawa and downtown Montreal, on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, and linked via the Long-Sault Bridge to Grenville, Quebec. The town has a high proportion (about 70%) of bilingual and mostly Franco-Ontarian residents.
Hawkesbury was founded in 1798, and is named after Charles Jenkinson, Baron Hawkesbury . The town grew during the Napoleonic Wars which created a boom in demand for timer for ship building. Over the 1900s, timber became less important and the town now manufactures textiles, synthetic fibres, metal extrusions, steel, glass and plastics
The Grenville Canal on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River opposite Hawkesbury is an important link in the river’s transportation system, and complemented the Rideau Canal for getting boats (though nowadays mostly recreational vessels) from Montreal to Lake Ontario. Importantly, the town has only Ontario-Quebec interprovincial bridge east of Ottawa.
Cyclists should head east from Ottawa along Old Highway 17, which was the main route before the 417 was built. At Hawskebury, cross to the Quebec side of the river, since the bridges on to the Island of Montreal from the Ontario side all have very heavy traffic. Take Route 148 from Grenville east to Lachute and then to Saint Eustache, and from there onto the Island of Montreal. The map below shows the route into Montreal.