The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 28 no 10, May 2017. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
For more information about Cantley’s mine car donation, see The Echo of Cantley - December 2016 (Volume 28 no. 6)
Mining was a significant employer and part of Cantley life in the 1890s to mid 1900s. Many small mines opened in Cantley originally to extract phosphate (apatite). They mined mica once its use as an electrical insulator was discovered. Cantley’s abundant, high quality mica was in great demand, especially during World War II. The Dacey Mine and especially the most valuable Blackburn Mine (1878-1964) were the largest mica mines. The Blackburn Mine was the principal mica producer in Quebec and so important during World War II that information about its production was classified. It employed up to 60 local Cantley men, many of them farmers.
Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips’ newly-installed mine car symbolizes Cantley’s mining era. We believe that similar mine cars were used in Cantley’s larger mines. Gary Blackburn tells the story of Cantley miner Maynard Burke who was the only man at the Blackburn Mine who could push the fully-loaded mine car alone! His strength was legendary.
The installation in Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips is a “No. 75 Rotary Mine Car” manufactured by the Hammant Steel Car and Engineering Works in Hamilton, ON, founded by Walter Owen Hammant in 1905. Ownership as well as the company name changed several times over the years. It was finally purchased by Walter Bartens in 1998 and permanently closed in 2006. Mr. Bartens has been providing us with fascinating archival material. Unable to find files prior to 1936, he has kindly searched remaining archives of various companies for the photos you see here.
Cantley mine cars have disappeared along with the mines they once worked in. Possibly many were buried when the mines were closed and filled in. We are so fortunate that Nelson Lawlor donated the mine car he found from the Dacey Mine and helped Cantley 1889 to install it in Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips.
To celebrate the official unveiling of our historic mine car with its rocks and its plaque, everyone in Cantley is invited to meet at Parc Mary-Anne-Phillips on May 28th. Afterwards, you are welcome to walk (or drive) a short distance to La Grange de la Gatineau for a reception with displays and the première viewing of the video “A Cantley Story: The Mica Mine”.
How does history come alive for today’s young people?
Fairbairn House Heritage Centre presented an idea to the CLD for engaging young people to tell stories about their local history by the creation of a video clip. The result - 3 video projects last summer created by Fairbairn and volunteer youth from La Pêche, Chelsea and Cantley.
In Cantley, the young people were recruited from La Source des Jeunes. They chose to tell about a Cantley mica mine. Since there are few physical remains to show this important story, the production crew and 5 young female actors created dramatic scenes. With imagination and fake moustaches, the video follows the story of a grandfather-miner during the mining era in Cantley:
Produced by the Fairbairn House Heritage Centre in partnership with the CLD des Collines-de-l'Outaouais
Written by and starring local youth from Cantley
Producers - Mara McCallum and Michael Cooper
Director and Videographer - Sebastien Molgat
After the première showing of Cantley’s video on May28th, the other short videos will be shown: Chelsea’s “Log Drive” and “Wakefiled’s Covered Bridge”. Michael Cooper will explain more about these videos and about 2017 activities at Fairbairn House.