Gatineau, Québec, city, pop 102 898 (2001c), 100 684 A (1996c), 92 284 (1991c), 77 708 (1986Ac), area 146.78 km2, inc 1975, is located at the junction of the Gatineau River and OTTAWA RIVER, adjoining HULL. It was created through the merger of 7 municipalities situated east of the Gatineau River (Pointe-Gatineau, Touraine, East Templeton, West Templeton, village of Templeton and Gatineau), and is the largest French-speaking municipality of the National Capital Region and fifth-largest city in Québec. The mother tongue of the population is predominantly French and the population is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Gatineau is now the seat of the Hull Diocese, known as the Diocèse de Gatineau-Hull since its transfer there a few years ago. The city takes its name from Nicolas Gastineau, who was supposedly active in the fur trade of the area in the 17th century.
Spread over 140 km2, Gatineau has experienced impressive growth in the last 20 years and is in the process of developing a city centre. Government offices such as the NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA, residential and office buildings, a cultural centre and a campus of Collège de l'Outaouais are already in place. Gatineau also has hospital facilities (CHG), and an airport coupled with a large industrial park that can easily be reached by a superhighway (A-50) which crosses the entire breadth of the city, connecting it with the Buckingham-Angers-Masson area to the east and with Hull, AYLMER and OTTAWA, Ont, to the west.
During the Labour Day weekend, the city hosts the largest gathering of air balloons in Canada, the Festival des montgolfières de Gatineau.