The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 23 no 9, April 2012. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
After a warm welcome by Mayor Steve Harris, and a brief annual report about Cantley 1889's many activities in 2011, over 90 people were entertained by Bob McClelland's fascinating talk and slide show of 20 historic photographs. The grand finale was the "unveiling" of these photos depicting all aspects of Cantley's early days - historical landscapes and people, mining, logging and the Gatineau River. Afterwards, people enjoyed celebrating with refreshments, conversation, an opportunity to become a member ofCantley 1889 and, of course, a look at the photographs.
Cantley 1889 gratefully acknowledges the support of the Municipality of Cantley who helped to fund this project, donated the room for the Vernissage and the walls of the Municipal Hall's Lower Lobby for the photo exhibit which may be viewed during the office hours and when the Library is open (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm; Saturday 10am to 4pm).
The following is told by Bob McClelland about the 1927 photograph of Cantley's highway...
Touring the roads of our past
At first glance, this 1927 Cantley Road photograph depicts a seemingly quieter time far removed from the rigorous pace of the 21 st century. Delve a little deeper, and we discover this area was the heart of a thriving 1920s community.
This photo shows Cantley Road (today's Highway 307), looking north, the fork in the road to the left is the Ferry Road and just beyond is the Cantley United Cemetery. To the right, just withdrawn from the image, is St Elizabeth Road. Early topographic maps identified this intersection as "Cantley", because within a one mile radius could be found most of the important institutions of the community.
The Ferry Road was the sideroad to Kirk's Ferry, which connected Cantley to the communities on the Chelsea side of the Gatineau River. The ferry operated from 1850 to 1927 and was a popular route to Hull and Ottawa. In 1891, the railroad came to Chelsea and Wakefield and it provided an even more convenient passageway to the city. In 1958, the Ferry Road was reconstructed at the base of the hill and in the 1970s was renamed Mont Cascades Road. The section of Ferry Road near the river also had its name changed to Prud'Homme Road. On the Blackburn Creek, just south of the Ferry Road, was the location of a succession of water-powered mills.
At the bottom of the hill can be seen a single slope building, which was a store and blacksmith shop. Many will remember in later years this building as a warehouse for the O.B. McClelland General Store.
To the right (east) of this intersection stood the one room Catholic and Protestant schools, and further east, along St Elizabeth Road, is St Elizabeth Church built in 1868-69. Travelling south on the Cantley Road (Hwy 307) about a quarter mile away was Brown's Store. In addition to a general store, the Brown families operated the post office, a blacksmith shop and carriage shop. Further south and west at the end of what is now Blackburn Road was the Blackburn Mine, a mica mine established in 1878, by Donald Gow which became Cantley's largest industry. During World War II, it employed 40 men and operated 2 shifts. Closed in 1964, it was described as the most important mica mine in the Western Hemisphere.
Opposite Blackburn Road is one of Cantley's best known landmarks, the Milks House. Initially built around 1869 as the priest's house, it was acquired in 1886 by Anthony Milks, a master house builder and sawmill operator. Further south at the intersection of River Road was another general store. Over the years the store had a succession of owners until Joe and Evelyn Hupe purchased it in 1959 and operated a store and post office until about 1990. Opposite the Hupe House can be seen the remains of a cement foundation which was the town hall for the Municipality of East Hull.
The present day version of Highway 307 may be smoother and wider, but it cannot match the charm and simplicity our Cantley Road in 1927.
Bob McClelland, descendent of a Cantley pioneer family, was speaker at the Vernissage. He is on the Board ofCantley 1889 - an association to "discover, catalogue, protect and promote Cantley's heritage".