The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 30 no 10, May 2019. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
‘When the Rideau Canal was being built between 1827 and 1832 there were many fatalities to which no official recognition is given. This story tells of the dire peril of a man named William Boon who, at the close of the work in 1832, settled in Cantley.
William Boon arrived in Bytown from Londonderry, Ireland in 1827 with his bride, Jane Chambers. He found work on the Rideau Canal as a whip-sawyer, sawing the great timbers which went into the gates and their swing arms.
In the early thirties during the spring floods, he was working at the top of the forty-foot dam at the Long Island locks. The pour of water at the locks was immense, causing an almost irresistible torrent. Mr. Boon, a big, strong man, lost his footing and fell into the swirling water which carried him into the current below. He managed to grab and hold on to a ledge of rock in the middle of the river a few hundred yards below, 50 feet from shore.
Fellow workers tried to save him by throwing him a rope but couldn’t reach him. Finally came the powerful Anthony Cullen. After several tries, he managed to lay the heavy rope along the ledge where Boon hung. Boon grabbed it and let go of his hold on the ledge.
He was at once swept into the fierce current but many hands held the rope on the shore. In a matter of minutes he was safe.
In 1832 when canal work ended, William Boon with his wife and young son, Joseph, joined a party of other canal workers who decided to remain in Canada taking up land in Cantley. The group crossed the Gatineau River on rafts just below the future site of the Alonzo Wright Bridge. They blazed a trail on the east side of the river up into Cantley, over hills, and down into ravines. They had neither horses nor vehicles of any sort. They carried their supplies on their backs.
If it had not been for the skill of Anthony Cullen there would not have been any Boons to help settle the Gatineau.’
After living a few years in Cantley’s centre, the Boones moved closer to Wilson's Corners where they prospered, raising three sons, Joseph, James and John. Records show land was granted to Joseph in 1866, site of today’s 1398 Montée de la Source. In 1933 William Boone (grandson of the story’s William) and his family lived on the homestead. Subsequent owners were his daughter Pearl (husband Herb Chamberlin), William D'Aoust and today's owners, Jay and Patricia Robertson.
To read another Boone story, see “Man of her Hallowe’en Dreams”, October 2014 l’Echo.