VALCARTIER GOT NAME FROM JACQUES CARTIER RIVER
The village of St. Gabriel de Valcarticr, better known as Valcarticr, is eighteen miles from Quebec. The name was derived from the fact that the parish is located in a valley formed by the Jacques Cartier River.
The parish of Valcartier originally formed part of the parish of St. Catherine de Charlesbourgh,The military camp is situated some distance from the village. The Camp has about 11,000 acres comprising of about 146 lots located within the parishes of St. Catherines, St. Gabriel and St. Ambroise. The property was originally owned by 130 persons as farms and bush lots. Overlooking the camp is a mountain called "Tsouthinas" by the Indians but known by later settlers as Pinkney’s mountain, called after a farmer who had a farm on the side of the mountain. The side of the mountain facing the Camp has been used as a target for artillery shells.
St. Gabriel de Valcartier was ceded to Robert Giffard, a surgeon in the French army, in 1647, and later became the property of the Jesuits but on the death of the last member of that order, in Quebec Reverend Jean Joseph Casot in 1800- it passed to the government of Lower Canada.
As described in the historic tales of old Quebec, Valcartier was first opened for settlement in 1817. Previous to 1814 Valcartier was a sanctuary for wild life and unknown except to the Huron Indians of Lorette, who hunted the district. Some of the earliest settlers were United Empire Loyalists from the State of Connecticut. Later English, Scottish and Irish people came to farm the land. The first settlers, both men and women had to walk miles through a trackless forest from Quebec to get to their homesteads.
Many made their homes in the heavily wooded mountain ranges while some farmed the North side of the Jacques Cartier River. Because there were no horses or oxen the pioneer settlers were obliged to cover the distance between their rural homes and Quebec on foot in order to provide provide the bare necessities of life for their families. There were no doctors or clergymen for years. In 1824 the parish contained a population of several hundred about equally divided between protestants and Catholics while in 1833 there were Anglican and Roman Catholic chapels together with a visiting Scottish clergyman.
It was in 1833 that a small country like church with accommodations for 150 persons was opened for divine service. The Roman Catholic church register of the parish dates from 1832, in St Catherines, 1843 in Valcartier.