The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 29 no 11, June 2018. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
In 2016, the historic St Andrew’s Church was de-consecrated and sold, ending a vital part of Cantley life. From its founding in 1876, it was not only a place of worship for the Protestants of Cantley, but, like the Catholic St. Elizabeth Church, it was an essential hub of the community, bringing friends and neighbours together for worship, socializing and working together to improve life during difficult times.
Since 2016, five former congregations of the Lower Gatineau region have united to form a collective new church, Église de la Grace United Church.
The good news is the original St. Andrew’s pulpit and a pew were saved! Thankfully, this new church has donated them to the Municipality of Cantley as a permanent reminder of St. Andrew’s and its importance to Cantley’s history. All other church furnishings were sold.
Organist and key volunteer of St. Andrew’s, Eirene McClelland (1909-1989) was featured in the recent “Notable Women” exhibit. Today, we are grateful for her writing about local history. In her 22-page booklet, St. Andrew’s United Church, An Historical Sketch” 1876-1976, she not only summarizes historical facts, but details the church’s struggles to thrive during its 140-year history. From this, the reader gleans an understanding of Cantley life in bygone times. The following quoted excerpts are from her booklet: The good news is the original St. Andrew’s pulpit and a pew were saved! Thankfully, this new church has donated them to the Municipality of Cantley as a permanent reminder of St. Andrew’s and its importance to Cantley’s history. All other church furnishings were sold.
The Pew: The first pews of the church had “a very narrow seat and a very straight back – an uncomfortable pew...the present pews were bought for about $250 (between 1903-1908). Most of the cost of the pews was raised by the Ladies Aid; the women met in the afternoons in their homes to sew articles for sale. One of the chief items made was men’s work shirts. One wonders what was the selling price?”.
The Pulpit: “The pulpit was made by a Roman Catholic craftsman from St. Pierre de Wakefield, Louis Lavasseur” for the original church (1877), and restored in the 1960s.
The Church Interior: “At first the church was plastered inside. Mr. Henry Easy superintended the covering of the plastered walls and ceiling of the (white ash) V-joint it now has; this gives the building a character all its own.” Henry Easy was a well-known local carpenter from Wilson’s Corners in the early 1900s, and grandfather of Evelyn Easy-Hupé, wife of Joe Hupé, renowned Cantley postmaster.
The pulpit and pew will reside in the lower lobby of Cantley’s Townhall until moved permanently into the new Community Centre as symbols of Cantley’s heritage and its original settlers.
We are very grateful to Église de la Grace United Church, the Municipality of Cantley, and Hubert McClelland for this important donation.
For more information about St Andrew’s Church, please see Bob McClelland’s article in the February 2016 Echo (vol.27 no.7). Contact Cantley 1889 for information about Eirene McClelland’s booklet (firstname.lastname@example.org)