The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the June 10, 2015 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Cantley's quirky history
This year's edition of Up the Gatineau! features the story behind Cantley's majestic castle, among other oddball tales from the community.
The 41st edition of the journal includes not one, but two stories (one by Mary Holmes, the other by James Brown) about William Connor, who dreamed the big dream: he wanted to build his own Chateau Montebello. His first idea was to construct a sprawling log cabin, but when getting the number of logs needed - they would all have to be uniform in size - proved to be difficult, the sprawling 22,000 square foot structure was built with stone.
Featuring a library, cathedral ceilings, and a turret, the castle is one of the few waterfront properties in Cantley that actually doesn't boast a good view of the Gatineau River. Connor's wife, Marion, insisted that the house be constructed so that the river could not be easily seen from the site. Rumour has it that a close relative of hers drowned and she didn't want to be reminded of the tragic incident.
The journal also includes a story by Joanne MacDonald and Paul Gessell about photographer Malak Karsh, who fell in love with the Gatineau Valley at first sight and built a cottage near Blackburn Creek. The brother of renowned portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh (he went simply by the name 'Malak' to prevent confusion) is best known for his image of logs being floated down the Ottawa River, which graced Canada's dollar bill from 1969 to 1979. He was also the founder of Ottawa's annual Tulip Festival.
Among the other gems in this year's edition are stories about Cantley's famous tugboat, the Milks family, Cantley's iron mine, and the McClelland Farm. Published by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, the journal was launched at the society's annual dinner on May 27. This year's Cantley-centric edition honours the GVHS's relationship with its sister organization, Cantley 1889.
Want to read more? Pick up a copy of Up the Gatineau! for $10 at the Wakefield General Store, Chelsea Freshmart, La Fab, as well as the other local retailers listed at www.gvhs.ca/publications/utg-order.html.
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