Cantley 1889

The Blackburn Pioneer Cemetery

Awareness and Protection

Modern development has obliterated many of Cantley’s heritage structures and sites. Very few remain today. Cantley 1889 is determined the same fate does not happen to this vulnerable cemetery. We have raised awareness about the cemetery’s existence and significance over the past few years with two guided cemetery tours and articles in our community newspaper L’Echo de Cantley.

In 2020, Cantley 1889 learned of a new housing development planned on land adjacent to the cemetery, putting the cemetery at considerable risk. Because of this, we prepared and submitted the documents for a provincial “Demande de Citation” to the mayor. The documents require council's support but have been on hold since July 2020.

In September 2020 we received good news! QAHN (Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network) granted funding to Cantley 1889 to create a descriptive plaque for the cemetery. This is an important step towards the ultimate goal of acquiring official heritage designation to protect this site. Cantley 1889 is very grateful to QAHN for its encouragement and financial support for this project. The funds were provided for QAHN’s “Belonging and Identity” project by the Quebec provincial government’s Secrétariat aux relations avec les Québécois d’expression anglaise.

The descriptive plaque honours Cantley’s first pioneer family while telling the historical significance of the Blackburn Pioneer Cemetery.

The Blackburn Pioneer Cemetery is open to the public.

Blackburn Cemetery
The Blackburn Pioneer Cemetery Committee, November 2020. From left to right: Bob McClelland, Valérie Crevier, Margaret Phillips, Gary Blackburn.
Blackburn Cemetery
Trail leading to the burial ground (in background), November, 2020.

Additional articles

Monuments and Burials

Imagine the hardships Cantley’s early settlers endured to carve their farms from the wild, rocky landscape. This burial ground and its monuments provide clues to their stories.

When Canada’s first European settlers arrived, before churches were constructed with their accompanying cemeteries, early farmers created their own “homestead” or family burial grounds for their deceased loved ones. Over time, these places disappeared – forgotten, hidden underneath natural growth or human development.

A significant exception is Cantley’s Blackburn burial ground which is currently owned by Gary Blackburn - descendant of Cantley’s first settler Andrew Blackburn who arrived in Cantley from Scotland in 1829. He created his family burial ground in 1842 to bury his two grandchildren. Its last burial took place seventy-eight years later in 1920.

The Blackburn Pioneer Cemetery is the final resting place for at least thirty-two members of five generations of the Blackburn family and their neighbours. We believe more people are buried here since Cantley’s church cemeteries were not established until circa 1857.

Before then, official documentation of burials was mostly dependent on circuit riders who performed the last rites and recorded the death. These clergymen travelled to many small settlements spread throughout a large territory so they were not always available when their services were needed.

The Blackburn Pioneer Cemetery’s small grave markers have all disappeared since 1920.
Fortunately, two large stone monuments with legible inscriptions have survived.

South face
ANDREW BLACKBURN SR.
BORN
DEC. 9, 1770,
DIED
April 29, 1855.
his wife
ISABELLA LENNOX
born Aug. 13, 1775,
died Jan. 14, 1860.
Their Son John
born Dec. 18, 1817,
Died 1866.
BLACKBURN

Blackburn Cemetery

East face
DAVID BLACKBURN
BORN
July 19, 1815,
DIED JUNE 28, 1899.
his Wife
CATHERINE DAVIS
Born July 22, 1822,
Died May 9, 1851.
Their Son’s
WILLIAM
Born Nov. 30, 1845,
Died July 10, 1847.
ANDREW
Born Aug. 29, 1844,
Died March 17, 1875.
BLACKBURN

South face
ISABELLA
Died Mar. 27, 1842,
Æ. 5 Yrs.
JAMES DIED
Mar. 24, 1842,
Æ. 4 Yrs.
LENNOX DIED
July 24, 1847,
Æ. 5 Yrs.
ROBINA BUCHAN
Died Aug. 27, 1851,
Æ. 1 Yr.
WILLIAM
Died Sept. 10, 1851,
Æ. 3 Yrs.
Children of Andrew &
Margaret Blackburn

Blackburn Cemetery

East face
ANDREW BLACKBURN
BORN
Jan. 18, 1811,
DIED
July 31, 1890.
MARGARET POLLOCK
his wife
Born July 23, 1812,
Died March 8, 1886.
CHRISTINA BLACKBURN
Wife of
D. CAMERON
DIED
Sept. 12, 1895.
Aged 47. Yrs.
BLACKBURN

South face
ANDREW BLACKBURN SR.
BORN
DEC. 9, 1770,
DIED
April 29, 1855.
his wife
ISABELLA LENNOX
born Aug. 13, 1775,
died Jan. 14, 1860.
Their Son John
born Dec. 18, 1817,
Died 1866.
BLACKBURN

East face
DAVID BLACKBURN
BORN
July 19, 1815,
DIED JUNE 28, 1899.
his Wife
CATHERINE DAVIS
Born July 22, 1822,
Died May 9, 1851.
Their Son’s
WILLIAM
Born Nov. 30, 1845,
Died July 10, 1847.
ANDREW
Born Aug. 29, 1844,
Died March 17, 1875.
BLACKBURN

Blackburn Cemetery
South face
ISABELLA
Died Mar. 27, 1842,
Æ. 5 Yrs.
JAMES DIED
Mar. 24, 1842,
Æ. 4 Yrs.
LENNOX DIED
July 24, 1847,
Æ. 5 Yrs.
ROBINA BUCHAN
Died Aug. 27, 1851,
Æ. 1 Yr.
WILLIAM
Died Sept. 10, 1851,
Æ. 3 Yrs.
Children of Andrew &
Margaret Blackburn

East face
ANDREW BLACKBURN
BORN
Jan. 18, 1811,
DIED
July 31, 1890.
MARGARET POLLOCK
his wife
Born July 23, 1812,
Died March 8, 1886.
CHRISTINA BLACKBURN
Wife of
D. CAMERON
DIED
Sept. 12, 1895.
Aged 47. Yrs.
BLACKBURN
Blackburn Cemetery

Child and infant deaths were common. We believe the burial ground was first used to bury two grandchildren of Andrew (Senior). They both died in March, 1842 - Isabella (age five years) and James (age four years). During the following nine years, their parents, Margaret and Andrew (Junior), buried three more of their children (ages one, three and five years). The 1851-1852 census shows one of them died of “consumption” (ie tuberculosis).

That same year, on August 11, 1842, their 19-year-old cousin was buried with them. John Johnson, Missionary Priest of Hull’s St. James Anglican Church, recorded a Blackburn family burial later in 1842, “Andrew, son of Robert Blackburn of Hull late of Scotland and Robina his wife was buried by me in the burial ground near the Gatineau River this eleventh day of August 1842 aged 19 years.”

Blackburn Family Plot Burials

Blackburn Cemetery
Blackburn Family Plot Burials, from In Memory of Chelsea’s Historic Cemeteries by Carol Martin. Castenchel Editions, 2005.

 

A tragic accident took the life of twenty-three-year-old John Knox Blackburn. He was buried here in 1907 (unmarked grave). He was crushed between two railway cars while working as a fireman for the Canadian Pacific Railway after only four weeks on the job. He was not married but supported his dependent mother. Coincidentally, he had just signed an insurance policy before his departure by train for his fatal trip.

Articles on the tragic accident of John Knox Blackburn

Andrew Blackburn Family - Cantley’s first pioneers

Andrew Blackburn arrived in Canada from Scotland in 1829 with his sons Andrew (Junior) and David. They travelled north along the east side of the Gatineau River, six miles upriver from the only other settlers (the Wright family). Andrew and his family were Cantley’s first settlers, the first people to build their home and clear their farmland in the Cantley wilderness.

His other son, John, arrived with Andrew’s wife Isabella Lennox in 1830, the same year Andrew worked on the first timber float down the Gatineau River. Within a few years, the family grew into four separate households. The Blackburn land extended to the opposite shore of the Gatineau River in Chelsea where Andrew (Junior) settled. David inherited the original Cantley farm. John moved to Chelsea. His son Lennox inherited the north section of the original Cantley farm.

Blackburn Cemetery
Portion of a map showing the properties of Andrew Blackburn and his neighbours in 1875.
Prepared by Mr. and Mrs. E. Ryan from the 1875 Valuation Roll of the Municipality of West Hull, Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

Additional information from the following Cantley 1889 Articles

Blackburn Farmhouse

Blackburn Cemetery

The Blackburn Farmhouse once stood on the west side of the cemetery. It was built in the late Victorian era, next to the family’s much smaller original farmhouse.

Blackburn family members are gathered here for a special occasion (circa 1890), holding mallets for the once-popular game of croquet.

The Blackburn Family
Most probable identification from left to right:

Seated: Elizabeth Scollon, *Andrew (head of the household), John Knox, David (son of first settler Andrew Blackburn Sr.), Bella and Tilly (girls).
Standing: Margaret, Elizabeth, William, Elizabeth Julia, Andrew Christopher, Christina.

*Andrew (1836 - 1920) and his wife Elizabeth Scollon (1845-1919) were the last to be buried here.

Cantley’s Cemeteries

Cemeteries are historic communities in their own right, and the most important source of monuments to the people of our past...Cemeteries in rural centres...are especially valuable because they offer a window on a more typical Canadian and local pioneer past.

In Memory of Chelsea’s Historic Cemeteries by Carol Martin. Castenchel Editions, 2005

All three surviving Cantley cemeteries are historic. All deserve respect and protection so they can serve as historic memorials for current and future generations.

Today, Cantley’s two active cemeteries reveal clues about local history and the people who once lived here. You are welcome to visit.

Blackburn Cemetery
St Elizabeth Cemetery has many interesting monuments, including this one. Alexander Prudhomme was Cantley’s first mayor, from 1889 until his death in 1894.
Blackburn Cemetery
William Thompson Sr. donated the first section of land for the Cantley United Cemetery in the late 1850s. Many of Cantley’s original families are buried here.

Before church cemeteries were established, family burial grounds were made in a small section of family farmland designated to bury loved ones. Except for the Blackburn Cemetery, none of these plots remains today in Cantley. We know that Cantley’s Smith and the Brown family farms also had family burial grounds.

Evidence indicates Cantley’s first known human burial was on June 2, 1836. John Smith and Jane McClelland’s eldest son died tragically in a brush fire while clearing land on the family farm. He was the first buried in the family burial ground which was used for family interments until 1874.

In 1844, the James Brown family established their burial ground to bury 3-year-old daughter Judith and several other family members thereafter. By 1870 the family acquired another 100 acres where they established a second Brown burial ground. Thomas Brown was the last buried there in 1910.

Additional information from the following Cantley 1889 Articles


May 2021 - volunteers at work

Blackburn Cemetery
Installing the plaque (from left) Margaret Phillips, Gerry Blackburn, Gary Blackburn, Murray Bell and Jean-Francois Sauvé.
Blackburn Cemetery
Mary Holmes with Hubert McClelland and Patricia Lawlor (right) cleaning the Blackburn family monuments. Photo Cantley 1889.
Blackburn Cemetery
Hubert McClelland cleaning the east monument, May 14, 2021. Photo Cantley 1889.
Blackburn Cemetery
Mary Holmes and Hubert McClelland pause from cleaning the Blackburn monument, May 14, 2021. Photo Cantley 1889.
Blackburn Cemetery
Valérie Crevier cleaning the west monument, May 14, 2021. Photo Cantley 1889.
 

Cantley 1889

Visit Cantley 1889

For more information about Cantley’s history
and to visit Cantley 1889 Virtual Museum