The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 15, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Read all about it in the latest Up the Gatineau!
by Mark Burgess
Chelseaites who have long believed their municipality is the centre of the universe received some reinforcement in the latest instalment of Up the Gatineau!, the Gatineau Valley Historical Society's annual publication.
A cairn on King Mountain, near Black Lake in Gatineau Park, marks the spot that in 1905 "was regarded as the geographical centre of the Canadian universe," Duncan Marshall writes in the 36th volume of the publication. That was the year Alberta and Saskatchewan joined confederation, and the year Dr. William Frederick King chose the site as the reference point for his Geodetic Survey of Canada.
"A geodetic survey (from the Greek geodaisia, to divide the earth) is a way of surveying the earth's surface accurately; making allowance for its curvature and gravitational fields," Marshall writes.
King Mountain, in effect, became the point "from which all other places and distances on the map of Canada would be calculated."
Marshall breaks down the process of triangulation that leads to mapping longitudinal locations and explains how Canada's geodetic survey was conducted. He also accounts for the naming of King Mountain, which is not as obvious as one might assume.
In the same edition, Up the Gatineau! editor Carol Martin deals with another kind of land management, tracing the struggles of early pioneers with land allocation and settlement.
Beginning with the petitions of a handful of settlers complaining about the land they'd received, Martin is able to follow the official documents to paint a picture of the struggle involved to be granted the desired land.
In other articles, Archie Pennie and Larry Dufour trace the history of the Collins sawmill at Kirk's Ferry; and Norma Geggie unravels the mystery of a World War II Royal Air Force jacket, from England to Malta to Wakefield. Martin and Allan Richens explore the profound relationship between Chelsea and Lignieres-de-Touraine in France, communities that are joined by Second World War cenotaphs.
The book cover, which corresponds to Louise Schwartz's thorough history of beekeeping in the Gatineau Hills, features the author's uncle, beekeeper David Selwyn, proudly displaying his swarm.
You can purchase Up the Gatineau! for $7 at various retail outlets in Wakefield and Chelsea, and at Irwin's General Store in Kazabazua.
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