Cantley 1889 Articles

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The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 27 no 4, October 2015. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.

Let us Give Thanks ... and Remember Our Cantley Pioneers

by Patricia Lawlor

One of the three symbols in the Cantley 1889 logo, the pitchfork, represents pioneer farming in our community. Early settlers did not have the luxury of running to a local grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread or a quart (or, in today's measurements, a litre) of milk. Families had to be self-sufficient and grow their own food.

Nelson Lawlor(right) with sister Patricia on family farm circa 1953.

Cantley gardens were filled with vegetables. Fruit trees produced plenty of fresh fruit in season; apples, plums and cherries made tasty jams, jellies and preserves for use throughout the winter. In Cantley, Mother Nature provided an abundance of wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, and in the rockier areas, wild blueberries were available.

Electricity did not arrive on Cantley farms until the 1950s, so of course, there were no freezers. Instead, people had root cellars to store their potatoes, root vegetables and wooden barrels filled with salted pork. At least one household stored carrots in mounds of white sand which kept them as fresh and crisp as though they were just picked from the garden.

Most other vegetables and fruits were preserved by canning or pickling. Preserving had to be done when the fruits and vegetables reached their peak in summer. This meant that the wood stoves would be fired up on even the hottest days of the year (like those 40° humid days we experienced this past summer!).

Cantley pioneers stocked up on large quantities of sugar and flour for their baking needs. The fl our came in colourful cotton bags. These often became an item of clothing. Do you remember those cute checkered skirts?

Life is quite different now. However, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have a garden plot available, or still live on a farm, we now have the option of growing some of our own food. Even if we don't grow our own, farmers' markets have sprung up in many neighbourhoods where we can purchase fresh farm produce and enjoy preserving it for the winter.

May we all give thanks for the abundant food we haveto eat, the peace and harmony in which we live, and the joy of sharing with family and friends. This is a tradition we continue to share with our Cantley pioneers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Patricia Lawlor grew up on a farm in Wilson's Corners (now Val-des-Monts) and moved to Cantley in 1994. She is a Board Member of Cantley 1889.



View of the Gatineau River showing one of Cantley's few vineyards (photo courtesy of Michael Rosen).


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