Cantley's heritage evolved from ancient times when aboriginal peoples travelled by our shores and rested here. Our first settlers (1820's) endured hardship to clear our wilderness for their farms. Our streams and the river provided power for mills and logging. Our picturesque hills were rich in mica, our valleys fertile for farming. The following is only a brief summary of our history...
Andrew Blackburn and his 2 sons were the first settlers to arrive in Cantley in 1829. Following soon after, a few other notable pioneers included: Dominic Fleming (stonemason from Ireland who laid the foundations for many of Cantley's earliest homes and St. Elizabeth's Church), Colonel Cantley (thought to have received a land grant here for services in War of 1812 and building of the Rideau Canal), Thomas Kirk (established the first, and essential, ferry spanning the Gatineau River between Cantley and Chelsea - later known as the Paddy Fleming Ferry after its operator).
Cantley 1889's Name
It's a catchy and bilingual name. It disputes the popular idea that Cantley was born in 1989 when it separated from its brief amalgamation with the city of Gatineau. Cantley's first pioneers settled here in the early 19th century; we were officially recognized, with our first mayor and the incorporation of the Municipality of East Hull, ironically in 1889. Hence, our name is a reminder that Cantley has an early and rich past, many years before 1989.
The first census of Hull Township in 1842 indicates 244 residents, mostly from Ireland and Scotland. In 1889, the Municipality of East Hull was formed; Alex Prud'homme was our first mayor.
The Cantley section of the Gatineau River, once turbulent with rapids, was an ancient Algonquin trade route. The mouth of Cantley's Blackburn Creek was their campground; it was also the site of Cantley's earliest ferry terminus and tavern built in the 1850's. Pioneers used the creek's waters for logging, as a "watering-hole" (for horses and people) and, most importantly, to power their first sawmill and gristmill.
Logging dominated the river from the 1830's (with logging rights given to Philemon Wright's three sons) until 1993. In 1927, with the completion of building the dams at Farmer's Rapids and Chelsea, the river was flooded, submerging many of Cantley's original farms and shoreline and creating the wide, placid river of today.
Cantley's mica was considered the best in North America. Its Blackburn Mine was the largest of many mica mines in Cantley; its payroll reached 60 during World War II.
With urbanization in the 1960's and 1970's, Cantley has become primarily a bedroom community. In 1975, Cantley was amalgamated with La Ville de Gatineau. Fortunately, Cantley re-gained its independence and unique character in 1989.