Cantley 1889 Articles

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The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 28 no 9, April 2017. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.

Cantley Settlers Carried Lighted Torches at Night

Margaret Phillips

This article was originally published on June 11, 1938 in the Ottawa Citizen. It has been edited for length. The information in italics has been added by Cantley 1889.

Robert Brown residence, first Brown store was started in one room of this building.

Cantley, located on the east side of the Gatineau River, opposite Kirk's Ferry, has a history dating back more than one hundred years. Though not an authority on the pioneer days in that district, Mrs. Isabella Skuce, of 5 Irving Avenue, is able to cast an interesting light on conditions there, more than sixty years ago.

Mrs. Skuce was born in Cantley sixty-nine years ago (circa 1869) – at a time when that district was still dotted with log cabins surrounded by blackened stumps in the midst of scanty clearings. The wives of the settlers were still using old spinning wheels and making practically all of the clothing for their families; wolves and wolverines were still stalking the land, keeping people awake at nights with their incessant howling, and, according to Mrs. Skuce, it was dangerous to venture out at night without a lighted torch to scare the wolves away – real pioneer conditions, and all less than seventy years ago.

Settler's shack, Cantley, Quebec, 1925, Clifford M. Johnston, Library and Archives Canada/PA-056340

Mrs. Skuce's father was the late James Davis, who for a time was a shopkeeper and ran the post office (postmaster from January 1867 to September 1869) – in later years, he kept a store in New Edinburgh, on Creighton Street near the corner of Sussex. His father, the late William Davis, came to these parts from Wales in the early part of the nineteenth century and sometime in the forties (he is listed in the 1842 census in Cantley) he settled on the outskirts of what is now the village of Cantley. The log shanty erected by this pioneer settler stood as a landmark until 1892, when it was destroyed by fire.

Mrs. Skuce recalls that among the early settlers within a mile on each side of the village were: John Milks (who came from Eardley), Lemuel Allen, Fred Davis, John Brown, Donald Gow, Robert Brown, Isaac Smith, James Shields, John Fleming, James Hogan, James Patterson, David Blackburn, David Thompson, Tony Holmes, George Prud'homme, grandfather of Rev. Father Geo. D. Prud'homme of Ottawa, among others.

At the time Mrs. Skuce was born, there was one store in the village of Cantley. It was kept by George Brown, father of Christie Brown of Ottawa. Later another store was kept by Alexandre Prud'homme, father of Rev. Father Prud'homme. Alexandre was also a postmaster of the village (1869-1880) and its first mayor (1889-1894).

When the Municipality of East Hull was incorporated in 1889, Cantley was officially recognized with its own local government and its first mayor Alexandre Prud'homme. In 1983, Cantley was amalgamated by Gatineau. For the following 6 years, we fought to regain our independence. This finally happened in 1989 – 100 years after we officially became Cantley.

The map included in this article is an excerpt of a much bigger map prepared, as indicated, by Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Ryan circa 1965 from the 1875 valuation roll of the Municipality of West Hull with later collaboration of Patrick M.O. Evans, and is for sale by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society. James Davis' property is outlined in bold for the purposes of this article. To give the reader some context: Cantley's shopping centre is being built on the property to the east of James Davis' and to the north of Anthony (Tony) Holmes'. We can see the family names of many of the neighbours that Mrs. Skuce referred to.


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