150 Years of History in the Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the March 22, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

This is a continuing series of photo essays celebrating our Gatineau Valley history and heritage during Canada's sesquicentennial year. The series was created by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, in collaboration with The Low Down to Hull and Back News. All photographs are courtesy of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, with donors noted.

A milestone birthday party for Wakefield, too

150 Years of History in the Hills
A panorama of Wakefield Village waterfront on the Gatineau River, ca. 1920.

As we celebrate Canada's 150th birthday this year, we should also take a moment to recognize the 100th birthday of the village of Wakefield.

The early name of the Wakefield area was, unofficially at least, La Pêche. The English speaking-people of the district spoke of "going to the Peche," just as the French speaking residents referred to Wakefield as "arrière la Pêche," and children went to school on the left bank of the 'Pesche' creek.

One hundred years ago, the Wakefield village was part of Wakefield Township. The railway had arrived in 1896, the McLaren grist and woollen mills were in full operation powered by the La Pêche creek, and Sully's lumber mill had been established in 1898 on the northern outskirts of the village. The village had two churches, two general stores, hotels, carriage shops, and a tinsmith. By 1915, the Gendron Covered Bridge had been built, reinforcing the village's status as the economic and social hub of the area. By 1917, the village had grown to about 250 residents living in about 40 houses.

In 1917, a group of residents petitioned the province of Quebec to establish a separate local administration and the 'The Municipality of the village of Wakefield' was incorporated by proclamation on March 15, 1917 by the province of Quebec, severing the village from Wakefield Township.

Among the first mayors of Wakefield were Robert Earle, followed by R.H. Kirby, Dr. Harold Geggie, Daniel Morrison, A.F. Austin, and Arthur Earle who served as mayor for several terms.

150 Years of History in the Hills
Postcard of CPR Depot, Wakefield, ca. 1917. Donated by Lee Grant.
150 Years of History in the Hills
Bird's eye view of Wakefield village, ca. 1917. Donated by Lee Grant.

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