It all started when Mr. Jean-Pierre Sylvestre organized the International Catamaran Regattas at the Aylmer marina with a partner. Mr. Sylvestre in discussion with friends, realized he would have to do something to draw people to Aylmer. Apart from the Outaouais en fête and a party organized by the Knights of Columbus, there was nothing major. So, part of this competition to entertain visitors, the first exhibition was set up by Mr. Sylvestre and drew 50 cars in 1991. This affiliation amid boats, regattas, was still very present, because it was the “Corporation des voiles d’Aylmer” (founded in 1992) who organized the Auto Show.
The Quebec government grants a subsidy to Mr. Sylvestre to organize an important event. A market survey is conducted, and the car show is ready for a new platform, but with a new context. “We created the Summer Festival of Aylmer. But it lasted only one year because the government only granted the money once and said that the city had to take over!” The Festival was short lived but good news came from the new spring Adventure, remembers Gilles Laroche, cars acted as magnets with visitors, across all other family activities of the summer festival.
It was in 1994 that the event as we know it today got its biggest boost in its history. A tornado hit Aylmer. “It hit Aylmer on a Thursday evening, the night before the weekend festival. Everyone travelled to Aylmer to witness the damage caused by the tornado. They saw the Auto Show ads and headed to the marina. The number of visitors reached the thousands for the first time.
Mr. Sylvestre, overlooking the start of the 20th edition, said his team was tired. And the lack of succession weighs heavily on the organization. “I’m now 65 years old and my team of volunteers is even older. Unfortunately, no one, young or old is ready to devote their time as volunteers to organize this festival, “he explained. After searching for a succession for five years – and facing all these frustrations – Mr. Sylvestre and his team announced that the 20th Auto-Show would be the last, unless another group. Agreed to take over.
A new group took over the organization giving it a closer vocation to the younger generation’s tastes and the City of Gatineau maintained its financial assistance. New elements were added to the program, including an exhibition of exotic cars and another reserved for German cars. The organizers of the Gatineau Auto Show believed the event would attract between 5,000 and 10,000 people during the weekend. About 200 classic cars, modern, exotic and sports are were expected in the field of Parc des Cèdres.
In 2015 was held the third Gatineau Auto Show in Aylmer under the current Board of Directors. The event welcomed more visitors than in previous years. This event between car enthusiasts was held from Friday to Sunday and it is estimated that some 25,000 people converged on the Aylmer Marina to admire the cars. The Gatineau Auto Show also offered the public musical performances and humor, namely the performance of humorist François Massicotte. A family area and various activities were also planned.
For the 28th edition of the Gatineau Auto Show, a brand-new team took over the board of directors and acted as the organizing committee for the event on August 9, 10 and 11, 2019 at Cedars Park. Alexandre Tremblay then became the Chairman of the Board of Directors. At the same time, the Gatineau Auto Show completely renewed its brand image, which is still relevant today. The 2019 event set a record for attendance, attracting over 30,000 visitors during the event weekend!
In April 2020, the Quebec government announced the cancellation of all festivals for the summer of 2020 due to COVID-19. The Gatineau Auto Show, taking place in August, was cancelled.
The Auto Show Gatineau is the festival for old and new car enthusiasts, a must in the Quebec car festival circuit! Every year, the event offers a car show for the family and car enthusiasts in the Outaouais. From Mustangs to Corvettes, through a multitude of models and makes from the 40’s to today, the exhibition includes more than 40 categories of cars. Activities and surprises are planned for all tastes and all age groups, not to mention the traditional Sunday car show that attracts more than 300 participants every year! A free event for everyone that attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually! Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2021, the Auto Show organizers are preparing several great surprises!