The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 24 no 1, July 2012. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
Cantley 1889, the Friends of the Gatineau River (FOG), the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (GVHS), and the Cantley's artists association, L'Art de l'Ordinaire, joined forces to hold a wonderful celebration of our rich river heritage on Sunday, June 10, under the banner of Canadian Rivers' Day.
The day's events included a Heritage Paddle, which was a lovely family activity, attracting a number of participants, including our very own Mayor, Steve Harris and his family. A diverse flotilla of every imaginable form of aquatic transportation including pontoon boats, canoes, kayaks and rowboats landed at La Grange de la Gatineau from as far away as Wakefield. It was also a great occasion to reconnect with our neighbours on the other side of the river, as a number of paddlers from Chelsea also supported the event.
Throughout the day, more than 150 visitors arrived, by land and water, receiving the usual warm Grange welcome. Mother Nature blessed the event with a picture perfect day, filled with sunshine and gentle breezes.
Period food and drink were available to the delight of many a thirsty paddler who quenched their thirst by quaffing a cool ale thanks to a display from a burgeoning local, microbrewery.
History buffs were in their glory as members of Cantley 1889 and GVHS, some in period dress, were on hand to offer an added dimension to the historical exhibits by sharing interesting tidbits of knowledge. Cantley 1889 President Margaret Phillips, was spotted in a pretty summer outfit which would have been de rigueur at any 1900s garden party.
The rich heritage of the region's first inhabitants was also showcased in the Grange's Great Hall. An interactive display of artefacts, hosted by volunteers from Cantley 1889 and the GVHS, added an interesting dimension to the day, as the everyday tools of the rivermen of the Gatineau were displayed along with a number of historic photographs.
Guests were treated to a shuttle over to the island where knowledgeable volunteers offered informative talks on the local flora and fauna. The sound of reels and jigs filled the air as the gentle summer breeze carried the tunes of the old time fiddle music down the river, creating a delightful ambiance.
Many reported hearing rhythmic rumblings downstream, which were rumoured to be ghosts of the Gatineau River. Experts on-site believe the sounds emanated from the pioneer cemetery. This celestial toe tapping was determined to be the clear approval of those who walked these woods before us.
Art lovers of all ages were able to view the various creations in an idyllic setting beside the banks of the mighty Gatineau, thanks to the various local artists who set up their wares for all to see in the marquis tent that was set up in jig time thanks to the volunteers of the Cantley Lions Club, who supported the event by generously sharing their brawn in support of the cause. The day wrapped up with a traditional raftsmen's lunch and this reporter can confirm that a good time was had by all.