Cantley’s Pioneer Settlers

Cantley 1889 Articles

<em>Echo</em> Cantley <em>Echo</em>

The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 35 no 7 February 2024. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.

Cantley’s Pioneer Settlers

Excerpts from the writing of Eirene McClelland

Eirene Taylor (1909 -1989), her husband Trevellyn McClelland, and their three children lived on his original McClelland family farm in Cantley. Eirene was recognized* regionally for her contributions to the community as farm wife, church organist, researcher, writer, community volunteer and advocate for an improved regional school system. She wrote the invaluable history booklet about St Andrew’s United Church and provided information for the 1989 book “A History of Cantley” published in 1989 by the “Cantley Centennial Committee”.

Settlers Shack”, Cantley. 1925, Clifford M. Johnston, LAC.

The following are excerpts from Eirene McClelland’s 1971 article entitled “Cantley” in Le Regional newspaper:

“The 1840s saw an influx of migration from Ireland. Some of the families were, - Barrett, Birt, Blanchfield, Boone, Burke, Cashman, Dean, Easy, Foley, Fraser, Gardiner, Holmes, Hogan, Kherney, Langford, Lynott, Maloney, McDermott, McClelland, McNeil, McAlinden, Milks, O’Keefe, Shea, Shields, Smith, Storey, Sullivan, Thompson and others.

From Scotland came the Blackburns, Clarks, Elders, Gows and Wm. Strachan who crossed the Gatineau river on a log, from Cascades, to seek a home in the hills near Mr. Casquette. Also in that area came some United Empire Loyalists who had lived near Cumberland, the Cassidys and O’Boyles. Mr. O’Boyle was a stone mason who later worked on the Parliament Buildings.

Some of the earliest French families were: Larose, Laurin, Brunet, Losier, Marengere, Thibert and Prud’homme. The only Norwegian we know of was John Oliver Romberg, a carpenter ...

... Mrs. Daniel Holmes [described]... the long ocean voyage by sailing ship, the sickness on board, the journey up the St. Lawrence to Montreal, again by boat to Ottawa with many portages; they arrived in Ottawa in the evening and spent the night in large sheds (possibly built for that purpose) situated where the former Union Station is. They completed the trip next day on foot, having crossed the Gatineau by ferry at “Little Ironsides” (the wharf was near the present Desjardins bridge) to claim their own piece of Crown land.

Eirene McClelland vers 1985. Collection McClelland.

With the cutting of the trees, there was the necessity of sawmills. We know Wm. Farmer had built a mill on the Gatineau River which in 1846 was operated by Andrew Main. Records tell too that in 1859 there was a sawmill on Lot lb, Range 11, valued at $1,200.00 which employed two men and cut 80,000 bd. ft. of inch lumber each year. Also there was the Blackburn mill on the Creek of the same name, the mill run by water power. We know there were various mills at the different water falls on the Creek. Later Mr. McNeil’s mill on the Ferry Road, which could have been the location of the Blackburn mill, was a combined saw and grist mill. For several years there were log drives on the Blackburn Creek.

From 1885 onward mica and phosphate were widely mined. There were many small mines which produced good quality mica which withstood heat well. One of the larger mines was the Dacey mine, and in later years the Blackburn mine which employed more than twenty men between the day and night shift. White lead was mined in the district.

Stores were few and far between. At the ferry at “Little Ironsides” Mrs. Laurin operated a store; Cantley was served by Robert Brown, second son of James Brown, who had a blacksmith shop, carriage shop, general store and post office for many years; farther on there was a store at John Smith’s; then one at James Cooper’s, and at Wilson’s Corner, Peter McGlashan had a general store and the post office. Only the last named is still carried on in the family name and it has been joined by several other thriving businesses which serve the public well.

* To learn more about the life and accomplishments of Eirene McClelland, please visit Fairbairn House Heritage Centre’s online exhibit “Notable Women of the Gatineau Valley”:


Smith House built circa 1842. Briefly used as manse for St. Andrew’s United Church. A north extension became a store, late 1800s to early 1900s. McClelland collection.

Smith House before the 2020 demolition of St. Andrew’s Church (right). Brick covers the original log building (shown in photo above from circa 1842) Photo Hubert McClelland.



Herb Smith in buggy, Montée de la Source at Ch. Ste-Élisabeth (right), early 1900s. McClelland collection.

“The Old Cantley Road”, today’s Montée de la Source at Ch. Ste-Élisabeth looking north, circa 1927. McClelland collection.
Brown House, Montée de la Source north of Blackburn Road, included a store and post office.

Eirene and Trevellyn’s McCelland Farm circa 1939. McClelland collection.

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