The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 23 no 11, June 2012. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
There's a lot to celebrate on the Gatineau River, and a river celebration it will be on Sunday June 10, for a grand Heritage Paddle.
Canoes, kayaks and rowboats from as far as Wakefield will paddle down the river and congregate in Cantley for exhibits about logging and nature, an art display, maps and photos of the olden days on the river, and a multimedia representation of the "Sacred River".
It is Canadian Rivers Day. It is the 50th birthday of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society. It is a celebration of Cantley's roots in the logging and lumber industries. And it is a day to celebrate being out with the whole family - either in a boat, or even just to enjoy the fun at La Grange de la Gatineau where, along with the displays, there will be a traditional raftsmen's lunch, micro-brewery beer, and oldtime fiddling.
The event is the annual paddle organized by the Friends of the Gatineau River (FOG). But this year, GVHS and Cantley 1889 have joined in to add a historical perspective and to bring together people from both sides of the river to appreciate the cultural and natural heritage of the Gatineau.
The artists of L'Art de l'Ordinaire are adding their own perspective, with works on display, and some of the artists will be creating right on the scene to capture the day in newly-minted artworks.
On the island just offshore from La Grange de la Gatineau, scientists will explain the plants, animals and birds of the area. For anyone who wants to come straight to La Grange without the river paddle, there will be boats available for short runs to the island.
But there is a treat in store for those who do paddle along our Cantley shores. Cantley 1889 has collaborated with Louise Schwartz of the GVHS to help produce a new version of FOG's River Guide of the Gatineau that will be launched at the Heritage Paddle.
Cantley 1889 President Margaret Phillips gathered anecdotes and fascinating facts from knowledgeable local residents to compile a wonderfully rich description of the Cantley river banks.
The River Guide points out the cottages, homes and landmarks that can be seen from the water. It recounts the history of the riverside farms, and the lore of the tugboat workers. There is information on the old mines and the pioneer families that settled within sight of the river. And, yes, you can even read about the ghost of the Gatineau River.
"Cantley 1889 put out the call for information on what we should know about our part of the river," said Margaret. "And the stories came pouring in. It was wonderful to compile the memories and the interesting facts."
For example, not many people know that the five adjacent Cantley properties just above the Chelsea dam were all owned by recipients of the Order of Canada. And, she added, that doesn't count properties further up-river where George MacDonald, the longtime Director of the Canadian Museum of Civilization has a cottage, or the family cottage of Marc Garneau, Canada's first astronaut in space and now an MP.
There are four launch-points for non-motorized boats, from Wakefield in the north, and boats can also be launched and landed at La Grange and the beach below the Parc Mary Anne Phillips on Summer Road in Cantley.
There is more information on the Heritage Paddle events on the Friends of the Gatineau website: www.fog-arg.org. That is also where you will find a waiver form if you are planning to paddle. Registration for events at La Grange de la Gatineau is requested in advance, at www.grange.ca.
Cantley 1889 is an association to 'discover, catalogue, protect and promote Cantley's heritage'. Info.firstname.lastname@example.org / 819-827-1969