High hopes for Pontiac Hops



Kate Aley

Spring time means gardeners are busy planting, planning and pruning … and the employees of Pontiac Hops, based in Luskville, are no exception.

The business, owned by James and Anthony Nugent, is in its third year of operation and is currently preparing to add a new three-acre field to the farm. The first year the pair put in 3,000 plants; now the count is close to 8,700.

Last week, two workers on a hydraulic platform were 40 feet in the air attaching lengths of string made of coconut fiber as support for the new vines.

On the ground, another person was driving in the special anchors to hold the string in place. Behind them, others were beginning the twisting process that will help the young plants grow to their full height.

The new vines have to be twisted clockwise by hand to in order that they climb effectively.  Two to three strong vines are enticed along each cord. Extra shoots, including the very aggressive but non –fruitful “bull” vines, are cut down.

Another important task at this time of year is removing the runners from the central rhizomes which emerge in the paths between the rows. Dense white clover creates a green ground cover as well as fixing nitrogen in the earth.

“Some of these we replant, but otherwise we need the rows to be clear,” explained James. “This year we are dividing the rhizomes and replanting from our own stock as well as putting in some some new vines we have purchased.”

At harvest, the cord is cut at the top and bottom and both the vine and the cord are sent to the processing plant where the flowers (known as cones) are removed.

The Nugent's grow the most popular and strongest varieties of hops for brewers: Cascade, Chinook and Centennial.

“This crop is almost completely pre-sold,” said James. “It’s nice to have it spoken for. Most of it is going to microbreweries that want local hops; they are our main clients. They generally buy fresh or dried hops, rather than the pelletized version that the bigger brewers want.”

“After the hops are twined we have some breathing space,” he continued. “We need to look after irrigation and watch for pests and disease. All our hops plants are certified, so they are strong to begin with and are not generally susceptible to disease. The plants should be productive for 15 to 20 years.”

After cropping in mid to late August, the rest of the plant is entirely cleared to the ground for winter.

Pontiac Hops employs between eight to ten people, some coming from as far away as Campbell’s Bay and Gatineau, including a number of local students.

When the last of the three-acre fields is planted, construction will begin on a building to house a dryer in order to bring the fresh hops down to the necessary 8 -10% humidity.

The Nugents are grateful for the advice from the Hops Co-op members, particularly growers Charles Allard and Jacques Lance from the MRC Pontiac.

“It’s better to help each other than to compete,” said Anthony. “We were lucky; so many people had done a lot of the research [before we started planting].”

“That’s the idea [of the co-op],” added James. “To share experiences and knowledge.”







Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

Celebrating weeds (not weed)


Look what I found in a particularly weedy part of my garden: the first Monarch caterpillar I've seen a very very VERY long time.






I found that chubby little fellow lurking on a blade of grass so I moved him to this leaf, where he lay like a slug for quite a long time. Then I saw that he'd done a neat u-turn. Then I saw he'd eaten a patch of the leaf and taken off like a maniac. No idea where went. Looked everywhere. So I assume he's out there.

Let your milkweed grow. 

Creative summer art classes



Kate Aley

Get some colour into your life this summer with bright new art courses at the Pontiac School of the Arts in Portage du Fort. This year, classes include watercolour painting, printmaking, screen writing and floor cloths (a durable painted canvas mat). 

Now in it's 14th year, the Pontiac School of the Art's mission is to inspire creative discovery in everyone.

For Over 8 MONTHS We’ve Had NO Emergency Route



Ashley Graveline



As someone who lives on Baie road and heads up to Quyon often, it really starts to hit how long Alary road has been washed out — and how annoying it is to detour around to head up to Quyon, Shawville etc.

The beginning of everything: "Origins" watercolour show opens



Kate Aley

You are invited to an extraordinarily moving exhibition of new work by renowned Luskville painter, Ruby Ewen.

Entirely painted in watercolour, the pieces immerse the viewer into multiple magical realms of creationism, imagination and classic myth.

Show runs: Friday, June 22 (opening event, 6 -- 8 p.m.) to July 22, 2018

Site: Stone School Gallery, 28 Mill St., Portage du Fort.

Cooking meets trucking at new restaurant



Kate Aley

After two years of extensive renovations, Au Coin du Camionneur, also known as Trucker's Corner, opened in Luskville on Sunday June 17. 

Owners Benoit Galipeau and Robert Bergeron have completely reconfigured the building at the corner of the Eardley-Masham Road and Highway 148. New lighting, comfortable seating and large windows that open onto a breezy patio create an inviting ambience.

Building a new future for Pontiac with slaughterhouse project



Kate Aley

After five years of planning, construction has now started on the Les Abattoir les Viandes du Pontiac. Set on five acres on the outskirts of Shawville, the slaughterhouse is the brainchild of Quyon entrepreneur Alain Lauzon and three partners, Sofian Elktrousie, Ibrama Diagne and promoter Gilles Langlois.

“We are aiming to be open by end of October,” said Lauzon last week, as he watched forms being set for more concrete to be poured.

Turtle S.O.S.: Save Our Shells!


Trouble in paradise.

It's June and that means those crazy turtles are once again roaming dirt side roads and busy highways alike; intent on finding mates, water and good nesting places as they have always done, paying no mind to the deadly wheels zooming past. I stop for a lot of turtles at this time of the year and so far we have all lived to fight another day. However I have never seen a turtle stuck in the bone-dry and baking-hot rink at the Luskville Community Centre before. Bad turtle terrain for sure.

Open letter to the Municipality of Pontiac recognizing the work of our municipal firefighters



Sandra Barber

To whom it may concern:

Re: Recognition of volunteer Firefighters

While sitting at our dining table enjoying our first coffee of the day on Sunday, May 20 at 6 a.m., my husband and I both heard a very loud “thunk” and wondered what the heck it was. Curiosity motivated my husband to investigate further; he checked our basement, nothing amiss. Checked the living room located on a lower level, noticed a man sitting outside on the guard rail.