Hull is a former municipality in the Province of Quebec and the location of the oldest non-native settlement in the National Capital Region. It was founded on the north shore of the Ottawa River in 1800 by Philemon Wright at the portage around the Chaudière Falls just upstream (or west) from where the Gatineau and Rideau Rivers flow into the Ottawa. Wright brought his family, five other families and twenty-five labourers and a plan to establish an agriculturally based community in a mosquito-infested wilderness. But soon after, Wright and his family took advantage of the large lumber stands and became involved in the timber trade. Originally the place was named Wright's Town, and the name Wrightville survives as the name of a neighbourhood in Hull.
The Gatineau River, like the Ottawa River, was very much the preserve of the draveurs, people who would use the river to transport logs from lumber camps until they arrived downriver. (The Gatineau River flows south into the Ottawa River, which flows east to the St Lawrence River near Montreal.) The log-filled Ottawa River, as viewed from Hull, appeared on the back of the Canadian one-dollar bill until it was replaced by a dollar coin (the "loonie") in 1987, and the last of the dwindling activity of the draveurs on these rivers ended a few years later.
Ottawa was founded later as the terminus of the Rideau Canal, built under the command of LCol. John By as part of fortifications and defences constructed after the War of 1812. Originally named Bytown, Ottawa did not become the Canadian capital until the mid-19th century after the original parliament in Montreal was torched by a rioting mob of English-speaking citizens on April 25, 1849. Its greater distance from the Canada–US border also left the new parliament less vulnerable to foreign attack.
Nothing remains of the original 1800 settlement; the downtown Vieux-Hull sector was razed by a destructive fire in 1900, which destroyed the original pont des Chaudières (Chaudière Bridge), a road bridge which has since been rebuilt to join Ottawa to Hull at Victoria Island.
In 2002, the Parti Québécois, leading the provincial government, merged the cities of Hull, Gatineau, Aylmer, Buckingham and Masson-Angers into one city. Although Hull was the oldest and most central of the merged cities, the name Gatineau was chosen for the new city. The main reasons given were that Gatineau had more inhabitants, it was the name of the former county, the valley, the hills, the park and the main river within the new city limits: thus, its name was less restrictive than Hull. Some argued that the French name of Gatineau was more appealing than a name from England to most French-speaking residents. Since the former city of Hull represents a large area distinct from what was formerly known as Gatineau, to be officially correct and specific many people say "vieux secteur Hull" (the former Hull part of town) when speaking of it. The name "Hull" was often informally used to refer to the whole urban area on the northern shore of the river facing Ottawa, so much so that the National Capital Region was often referred to as "Ottawa-Hull", especially in Quebec outside the immediate area.
In 2004, there was a referendum to decide whether Hull would remain in Gatineau. Most of those who voted in Hull voted against the de-amalgamation, and the status quo prevailed.