The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 28 no 3, September 2016. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
Please note: Part 2 of Susan Derby's "An Irish Son Finds the Wright Place in Cantley" will appear in the October 2016 Echo.
Even though the Gatineau River marks Cantley's entire western border, not many Cantley families live even within view of it. So why was Cantley asked to participate in the special River Pride celebrations this year?
Under the leadership of the Fairbairn House Heritage Centre, six non-profit groups from the Gatineau River Valley volunteered to provide River Pride themed arts and recreational events from spring to autumn 2016. Cantley 1889 volunteered to participate believing Cantley, the eastern shore of the river, should be represented.
Why? Because the Gatineau River is a part of Cantley's rich history. The River Pride celebration in Cantley gives us an opportunity to appreciate our river heritage and to get together for a fun community celebration.
The Gatineau River was the main transit route for Aboriginal traders and travellers in earliest times and for Cantley's first settlers from the early 19th century. Before Cantley had its own mail and other services, residents travelled by ferry at several locations to cross the river to the Chelsea side, not only for their mail, but to shop, attend church and catch the train to Ottawa or Hull. Before the dams were built in the 1920's, the river was turbulent with spectacular waterfalls but was also much narrower. People could walk across the river jumping from stone to stone during mid-summer droughts and in winter the frozen river became a bridge from Cantley to Chelsea. Before electricity came to Cantley in the late 1950's farmers would cut ice blocks from the frozen river to keep their ice houses cold in summer.
The building of the dams had a huge impact on Cantley, during the construction period and then permanently with the flooding of the river. In 1927, farms, homes, small mica mines and an entire island of cottages (formerly Chelsea Island/Gilmours'Gatineau Mills) disappeared forever under water.
From the early 1800's until 1991, logging dominated the Gatineau River with an average of 400,000 cords of wood travelling along Cantley shores annually.
Today, the Gatineau River continues to unify all its bordering municipalities. Its heritage, its spectacular views, surrounding natural beauty and clean calm waters give all of us something in common to be proud of and to celebrate.
Please join your friends and neighbours on October 2nd for an afternoon of being proud of our unique river, beautiful autumn colours and, most importantly, our special Cantley community.
We encourage all of Cantley to celebrate our Gatineau River Valley heritage on Sunday afternoon, October 2nd in Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips. Activities start at noon and end at 4pm.
Bring a picnic lunch. Enjoy the autumn colours and view of the Gatineau River to the live music of the Barrhaven Fiddleheads and a presentation by Cantley's Les Sources des Jeunes.
The Cantley Lions Club will sell light refreshments and organize fun activities for all.
The highlight of the event will be Ian Tamblyn's original musical play written especially for River Pride celebrations - "A River Runs Through Us". It tells of our Gatineau River, its history, its stories... and even its Cantley ghost! This play will be performed in English with a written summary in French.
Cantley's River Pride will be the grand finale of six Gatineau Valley River Pride celebrations.
Free admission ~ Bring your own chair.
In case of rain, the event will be held in the nearby La Grange de la Gatineau, 80 ch Summer.