The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 27 no 10, May 2016. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
See also article River Pride - let's celebrate our Gatineau River in same issue.
"Cemeteries are not only a window to our past, but are considered sacred ground by many, and protected under provincial law. We owe it to the pioneers who settled our community to honour them and let them rest in peace." Bob McClelland, 2011
Cantley 1889 has had many requests to repeat the "Century of Cemeteries" tour given in 2011. So, by popular demand, on Sunday May 15, 2016, Bob McClelland and Gary Blackburn will once again guide visitors through two of Cantley's cemeteries.
The tour will begin at the Gary Blackburn Farm:
Visitors will join Bob and Gary at the 174-year-old Blackburn Family Burial Ground on the Gary Blackburn Farm. It has remained on Blackburn land since its creation and is one of the oldest and largest private family burial grounds in the region. Its two large headstones are unique. Andrew Blackburn and his family were the fi rst permanent settlers in Cantley in 1829, before the churches with their public cemeteries were built. In 1842, several Blackburn family members died (including 2 children who died the same day) so, as a result, the family created this family burial ground. Bob and Gary will share stories about some of the 32 family members and neighbours thought to be buried here, 15 names inscribed on the headstones and 17 unmarked graves.
During the early 1800's, there were other family burial grounds in Cantley. Two were located on former Brown farms and two on McClelland farms. The oldest recorded burial in Cantley was Francis Smith, an eleven-year-old boy, who died on June 2, 1836. He was buried on the family farm just north of St. Andrews United Church.
The tour will continue at the Cantley United Cemetery:
The Cantley United Cemetery was established in 1858 on land that also housed a log Methodist Chapel. Bob will show visitors the oldest stones which mark the graves of James McClelland 1865 and Crisstiana Sifton McClelland 1860. He will tell the history and anecdotes of some of the well-known early Cantley families resting here.
The Cantley United Cemetery can be seen from the busy Montée de la Source. However, once on the green grounds of the cemetery, visitors notice how the highway and modern life seem to disappear. The cemetery is on a bluff that overlooks the Gatineau Hills and bordered by a silent forest on one side. This creates a tranquil, peaceful oasis, a lovely place for our earliest settlers to rest with our more recently deceased family members beside them.
Cantley 1889 invites you to discover some of Cantley's history and the stories of its people at this popular event.
Please note: Cantley 1889 is planning a special tour of Cantley's St. Elizabeth's Church Cemetery in 2018 to mark the 150th anniversary of the church.