A group of history buffs was meeting in Gatineau, Que., Saturday to explore the city's old industrial buildings as well as to discuss plans to preserve one of the area's most prominent industrial sites.

tp-ottawa-history

Outaouais Historical Society president Michel Prevost, pictured in front of the former E.B. Eddy mill, hopes to preserve the building, built in the 1880s, as an industrial museum. ((CBC))

The Outaouais Historical Society is trying to preserve the former E.B. Eddy mill as an industrial museum. The pulp and paper company built the mill, nestled on the banks of the Ottawa River, in the late 1880s.

Michel Prévost, president of the Outaouais Historical Society, was successful in getting the Quebec government to step in and protect the buildings from demolition.

But Prévost said it's hard to hold onto industrial buildings, as people are more eager to protect historical homes than old paper mills.

Prévost hopes the 50 people at the conference talk about ideas for the vacant E.B. Eddy building — be it a museum or another use.

"We cannot study the history of the Outaouais or the national capital area without all the wood [and] the lumber industries," he told CBC News.

Prévost said there is no evidence left that Hull was once the biggest producer of matches in the world. He does not want to see the same happen to its lumber history.

But Lise Noël, an archivist from Montreal, said it's not only the bricks and mortar that should be preserved. She also wants to see the machines, tools and the manufacturing processes preserved.

"The tools and techniques of the work inside [should be] preserved also," she said.

The E.B. Eddy company was taken over by Domtar in 1998.

With reporting by CBC's Kate Porter