The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 29 no 5, November 2017. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
It is shameful that Cantley has no war memorial, cenotaph or even a plaque recognizing the men and women of Cantley who fought for our country and world peace. Cantley’s veterans were not honoured or even acknowledged on Remembrance Day, until 2011 when Mary Holmes began writing her outstanding November articles for the Echo.
Cantley 1889 is proud to announce that on Remembrance Day 2017, Cantley will place a wreath with the words: Vétérans de Cantley Veterans. Everyone is invited to the ceremony that will take place at 10:30 am at the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery. (587 Highway 105, Chelsea QC)
The Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery is an appropriate place to honour our veterans since Cantley and Chelsea share many of the same family roots. Many of the area’s original settlers are buried here.
The annual ceremony at the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery is unique. Here, in 1986, the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (GVHS) discovered the grave of Private Richard Rowland Thompson. In 1899, Private Thompson enlisted with the 2nd Special Service Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment as a soldier in the South African War. He risked his own life to save the lives of comrades under intense fi re on at least two occasions. For his heroism, he received the Queen’s Scarf. Queen Victoria herself crocheted eight scarves to be presented for extreme gallantry to regular soldiers. Private Thompson was the only Canadian to receive this honour.
Though his funeral was conducted with full military honours, Thompson’s deeds and grave were forgotten for fifty years until the GVHS acquired and restored the cemetery and erected a cairn in his memory. The Thompson family installed stone pillars at the cemetery entrance and also donated his Queen’s Scarf to the people of Canada, now displayed at the Canadian War Museum.
For the past thirty years on November 11, GVHS has invited Private Thompson’s Royal Canadian Regiment, the Canadian Forces Health Services and the people of the Chelsea area to gather together at Private Thompson’s cairn for their Remembrance Day ceremony. This year, Cantley is included.
Thank you to GVHS who organizes this very special ceremony annually and has enthusiastically welcomed Cantley’s participation. We hope many Cantley people, young and old, will attend this year to honour our Cantley veterans at last.
World War I (1914-1918) *indicates ‘killed in action’
World War II (1939-1945) *indicates ‘killed in action’