The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 33 no 1, July 2021. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
Siblings Cora and Mervyn were beloved by all. They lived most of their 100 years on the family homestead in “Maple Valley”, Mont-Cascades. The farm had various owners until it passed from O’Boyle’s to Hogan’s. They shared this beautiful setting with their siblings, Edward and Rita, and their parents, Alfred Hogan and Mary O’Boyle. They leave behind dozens of friends in the “Village” and in other parts of Cantley, and beyond.
Mervyn is well remembered as a farmer and an astute businessman but most of all as a highly skilled carpenter. He was as proficient at building and renovating as he was at making furniture and finishing. Carpentry was his passion and vocation. His workshop was moved from his parents’ farm at Kirk’s Ferry across the winter ice before the Gatineau River was flooded in 1926-27.
Mervyn made many sleigh beds, tables, stairs, and cabinets in his workshop and milled thousands of board feet in his sawmill. His creations are treasured by many in Cantley. Kasia is warmed by the memory of his kindness and his handiwork all around her family home. Mervyn made two chairs for Michelle that were nearly perfect matches to the four she already had. Reta appreciated that Mervyn could always find a way to build things that didn’t “break the bank”. He built a beautiful fireplace for her and Arnold out of some blasted rock from the hill on the then newly-built road beside the Hogan farm.
When he and Joan were building their new home on the river, Bob found himself a willing apprentice to a talented teacher. He learned a lot about heritage design and the beauty to be found in a pile of dry grey rough-cut red oak boards. Bob summed up Mervyn’s life by noting that he will be remembered “as a gentle man with a heart of gold”.
As accomplished as her brother, Cora had her own passions: cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, and her friends. She also had a strong sense of family loyalty. As a young woman, when she was working as a seamstress on Sparks Street, her mother became ill. Cora returned home to take care of her then stayed to look after her aging father and the household.
Cora was very spry throughout her long life. She could walk for miles, and did. Cora showed her walking partner, Kathryn, where to sneak into the “north piece”, which the Hogan’s had sold to the “ski hill”, to pick wild strawberries and blackberries, and how to get to the “Cranberry Marsh” to pick cranberries as the young Hogan’s had done. In her 80s, Cora broke her hip falling on the ice one winter day. By the next spring she was back working in her gardens.
Most of all, Cora was a giver. Her neighbours were often treated to goodies from her kitchen or fruit from her fruit trees. She had bountiful vegetable gardens and beautiful flower gardens. Her visitors had only to admire a plant or flower and Cora would get her shovel to dig out a sample. Kathryn and Joan have souvenirs of Cora in their own perennial gardens. She was just as generous to St. Elizabeth’s parish. For many summers Cora brought fresh flowers from her garden to decorate the altar. She also contributed her share of pies and salads while volunteering in the kitchen at the annual Cantley Picnic.
Cora’s friends fondly remember her as a “whirlwind” who had a kind and generous heart.
Thank you Kathryn Mulvihill, Reta Milks, Michelle Doepner, Joan Urichuck, Kasia Skabas and especially to Bob Urichuck for so graciously sharing their memories of Cora (1919-2019) and Mervyn (1920-2021).