The first barge to travel back and forth between Lefaivre and Montebello was constructed by France Mafor; Godefroy Lambert was its operator. Known by its French name “bac” or ferry, the boat was propelled by rowers. It was held by a one-inch iron cable (the cable had cost $100) so it would not drift away for its 2 or 3 trips per day, made upon request only. A single horse carriage crossing cost 24 cents, while a double horse one would see the fee rise to 35 cents.
Later, Honoré Massie switched it to a traction system (horse powered paddle wheels replaced the oars). The barge was pulled by another steel cable hooked on to a pulley system that was activated by manual power. A bit later, Joseph Nadon installed a steam bucket. Towards 1912, the modern era arrives in Lefaivre as the first motor-powered barge appears. As a matter of fact, Honoré Raymond had a gas motor engine with a propeller installed. By 1929, a good portion of commerce was done through the waterways.
The Saint-Thomas Era
During the winter of 1959-60, Jean-Claude Gascon built a steel ferry big enough to cross twelve vehicles at a time. The user fees at the time were 50 cents for a car and 75 cents for a truck. Crossing the Ottawa River on the Saint-Thomas became the maritime tradition in Lefaivre. In operation from 1960 to 1970, the ferry was consequently sold to Ubald Legault. Afterwards, it became the property of Eugène Bourbonnais, Laurier Bourbonnais, Ubalt Legault and Marcel Frappier. On July 12, 1974, Rhéal and Nicole Dechamps acquired the Saint-Thomas. The Lefaivre-Montebello Ferry Ltd name was adopted in 1976.
Acquisition of L’Outaouais
The year of 1989 brought a new sight on the superb Ottawa River scenery as a second motored ferry, L’Outaouais, appeared, an acquisition from Ateliers Maurice Bourbonnais. This new boat enabled users to enter at one end and exit at the opposite end, speeding up the process and making it easier for customers. From then on, with a straight axis of travel, the ferry could give access to longer and heavier vehicles. The family business could now serve the heavy commercial transport sector, which was impossible with the lateral boarding on the 30-foot-long Saint-Thomas. Two new docks were consequently built and put in service in July 1990.
After more than 23 years serving their customers, the two captains, Rhéal and Nicole, handed over the wheel to their two sons, Patrick and Guy, in 1997. A year later, Guy became sole proprietor and oversaw daily service with his wife, Sonya.
A New Wave
Éric Sanscartier-Allard acquired the ferry during the summer of 2021. He will continue to offer this much appreciated service between Lefaivre and Montebello.
Edited by : Camille Turgeon