The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 32 no 9, April 2021. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
For the last 20 years, the Municipality of Cantley has been one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada. Unfortunately, this has meant the disappearance of many historically significant structures and landscapes. Of the five “Early Houses of Cantley” documented by Bob Phillips in The History of Cantley (1989) three are now gone: Blackburn House (1900) Dean House (1903) and the United Church (1877). The United Church was one of Cantley’s oldest community buildings. It was particularly disturbing when a municipal demolishment permit was hastily issued in 2020 with little thought given to “re-purposing” the building.
“89” is an important number for Cantley. It was in 1889 that Cantley was first formed out of the old “Township of East Hull”, eventually becoming a part of the City of Gatineau. When it became clear that Cantley’s voice was not being heard (talk of a garbage dump did not help) a referendum created a “new” municipality of Cantley in 1989. In 2010, the community group Cantley 1889 was formed “to discover, catalogue, protect and promote our heritage”.
In effect, we all share the heritage of Cantley in some way. Heritage includes:
Our Cantley heritage is based on its three historical pillars:
We rely on healthy ecosystems for nutrition, food security, clean air and fresh water. We are fortunate to have much of our agricultural land protected. We must celebrate the products and services brought here by the generations of farmers who founded Cantley – a celebration which will be an active part of Cantley’s present (and future) economy. The new initiative, La Cercle d’autosuffiance de Cantley de solidarité profiles sustainable agriculture in Cantley.
The demand for minerals like iron, mica, phosphate, feldspar and silica meant that at one time, there were about 50 mines operating in Cantley. During Cantley’s mining era, fortunes were made and lost by mining prospectors, speculators, investors and miners. Signs installed around the Nakkertok Ski Club celebrate the Haycock iron ore mine, helping us to understand the significance of this industry. So too does the restored mine car from Cantley’s Dacey Mine restored in Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips.
Cantley was an active participant in the log drive down the Gatineau River. Here, millions of board feet of white pine, hardwoods (maple, oak, cherry) and spruce/balsam pulpwood floated down to the awaiting mills of Gatineau, Hull and Ottawa guided by expert Log Drivers. “Le Champagne” tugboat now installed in parc Mary-Anne-Phillips is a tribute to Cantley’s role in the Gatineau River’s logging era.
Projects to enhance local heritage have the potential to re-energize neglected areas and provide opportunities for local people to review, re-engage with and re-interpret their heritage.
Heritage is fragile, yet it delivers so much in terms of important human experience and enjoyment. It enriches our lives, allows us to define ourselves but needs constant protection and development. It is essential that the significance of our heritage is acknowledged by our municipal government in its Official Plan (at present it is not) and reflected in appropriate and reformed structures and funding. This will ensure that the best elements of our heritage will be passed on to our children and their children in turn.
How you can participate and help!
Explore, learn, respect, celebrate, enjoy! Ask your municipality to help protect our heritage.
Visit the heritage area in parc Mary-Anne-Phillips and, later this summer, the Blackburn Pioneer Cemetery.
Visit www.cantley1889.ca to see photos, videos, stories and Cantley 1889’s virtual museum.
Consider a membership in Cantley 1889 to show your support for Cantley’s heritage.