Highway 417 and the Long Sault Bridge in Hawkesbury are a popular shortcut for drivers who want to get between regions of Québec without having to take a long detour to the closest bridges in Laval and Montréal. The shortcut has been more difficult lately, due to COVID-19 police checkpoints set up on the Long Sault Bridge and on Highway 417 at the Québec-Ontario boundary.

The Traversier Le Passeur ferry between Carillon and Pointe-Fortune still makes the shortcut possible, but at a cost.  The ferry is privately owned and operated.  The cost is $10 for cars, $11 for pickup trucks, and the cost for larger trucks and buses ranges from $12 to $46.

“We’ve got a little more traffic this week, and we’re expecting more in the next few weeks,” said Le Passeur Manager Pierre-Luc Lavallée.

The ferry began its 2021 season just four weeks ago. Lavallée said traffic has been on the rise in recent years, prior to the boost in vehicles the ferry has seen so far this spring.

One ferry boat, named the Anik, goes back and forth between Carillon and Pointe-Fortune, carrying up to 10 regular passenger vehicles in each direction across the Ottawa River, just downstream from the hydroelectric dam. Large trucks and vehicles with trailers also use the ferry, and fees vary depending on the number of axles on each vehicle.

The Traversier Le Passeur ferry route is entirely within Québec, but just a few metres from the dock in Pointe-Fortune, the provincial boundary goes through the village along Montéé Interprovinciale and through the yard of the historic Macdonell-Williamson House. The boundary then follows Grande Montée toward Highway 417 and Autoroute 40.

According to Pointe-Fortune Québec village Director-General Jean-Charles Filion, there have been no issues with extra traffic in Pointe-Fortune due to increased ferry use. He said the village is in constant communication with the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and police will increase their presence in the community if required.

Neither the SQ or Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have been operating checkpoints in Pointe Fortune, but checkpoints have been set up nearby on westbound Highway 417 and eastbound Autoroute 40. All vehicles except for exempt commercial vehicles are required to stop at the Ontario checkpoint, and there are only sporadic SQ checks of vehicles from Ontario entering Québec.

A Sûreté du Québec vehicle intercepting a passenger vehicle at the checkpoint on Autoroute 40 at the Ontario boundary. Photo: James Morgan