The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 29 no 2, August 2017. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
July 12 marked the end of an era for Cantley when an historic landmark was demolished. The Hupé House was always a significant hub of the Cantley community.
After the Municipality purchased the Hupé House in 1994 from Joseph Hupé, it became a venue for meetings, classes, Christmas craft fairs and many other community functions. Before then, in days when mail was a critical part of rural life, the house made history as Cantley’s post office.
From 1857, with Cantley’s first postmaster William Hamilton, to 1994 when Joe Hupé retired, Cantley post offices were part of the postmaster’s home, either on the Hupé House site or nearby.
Memories and stories of the Hupé House as a post office can be traced back to Ernest Poulin who was postmaster from 1926 to 1937. He owned a hotel as well as the post office — a time when the territory went “dry”. Mail was delivered for him by the notoriously hard-working Miss Mildred Lawless.
During Postmaster Onesime Routhier’s term (1937-1944), the house burned. He rebuilt the wood section. Because Routhier was handicapped, his car was modified, so he could operate it with one leg and his hands to deliver the mail.
Postmaster Henri Demers (1944- 1949) had a machine for making cement blocks. He added the cement block section to the Hupé House.
When Postmaster James Barrett (1949-1960) retired, he sold the house which included a post office, grocery store and gas station, to the new postmaster, Joseph Hupé. Joe, a carpenter, had to learn how to operate the post office and, in those early years, he also delivered the mail to the rural highway mail boxes (no community boxes then!). This was a challenge for him and his young wife Evelyn whose first child was only a few months old. The Hupé House was where Cantley residents went for their postal requirements, groceries, and gas as well as to learn Cantley news from the highly-respected, well-loved Hupé family.
Marianne Tardy of the Municipality explained: “According to the Quebec’s Health and Safety regulations , the Hupé House is determined unsafe due to the presence of asbestos. Unfortunately, the estimated renovation costs exceeded the acquisition costs and the Municipality wanted to focus on more pertinent needs. The site will be landscaped as an attractive green space. According to the Municipality, this area meets criteria which could lead to the potential construction of a new fire station.”
If you have stories, memories or photos of the Hupé House, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.