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The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 23, 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Women's stories front and centre in Hills history

By Nicole McCormick

If the internet existed back in the 1960s, Sheila Hoare would have broken it. The longtime Hills resident went viral 50 years ago when she took on the mighty National Capital Commission and single-handedly spearheaded a campaign aimed at stopping catastrophic development in Gatineau Park.

UTG Cover
The 44th 'Up the Gatineau' is being released May 28. Photo courtesy GVHS.

When Hoare and the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club first got their hands on a copy of an NCC plan to develop Gatineau Park, they were outraged to learn that it included building golf courses, a ski resort, artificial beaches, and a hotel. The development also meant that rare plant life along the shoreline of Mud Lake would be bulldozed.

Unfortunately, Hoare was unable to persuade the club to take a stand against the NCC. But instead of backing off, Hoare launched a one-woman fight and took on the NCC on her own.

She went on to recruit other environmentalists and scientists to help with the campaign. The group wrote reports and held meetings that were attended by over 200 people.

Hoare also confronted the chairman of the NCC face to face after he accused her of spreading false information. She invited him to correct whatever information he deemed to be "fake news." Her campaign was so effective that the NCC eventually scrapped the plan.

Hoare's story, written by Wayne Anderson, is one of four profiles of accomplished Hills women all born between 1913 and 1923 to be featured in the 44th edition of 'Up the Gatineau!,' which is published every year by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

"Documenting the history of the Gatineau Valley in words and images strengthens our own collective memory," said Louise Schwartz, who has been the publication's editor since 2011.

This year's edition is also the longest volume to date and only the second to publish colour photos. It includes 12 articles written by 11 contributors.

Schwartz described it as "a diverse mix of local history stories - with styles from researchbased to biographical - and covering Gatineau Valley content ranging from steam trains and early farming to cottaging and canoeing." And there is also an emphasis on strong, local women. Schwartz wanted to include more stories of women after coming to notice that the book had published a disproportionately high number of articles focused on men.

This year's 'Up the Gatineau!' also includes biographies of Lester B. Pearson's aide Mary E. Macdonald, photographer Rosemary Gilliat, and author Elizabeth Smart, focusing on their connections to the Gatineau Hills.

Other highlights include the chaotic first year of Philemon Wright High School - now approaching its 50th anniversary - by alumnus Bob McClelland, an autobiography written by local musician Ian Tamblyn, and a look at the early farms and farm families of Wakefield by Anita Rutledge.

'Up the Gatineau!' will have its official launch on May 28 at the annual GVHS dinner at Camp Fortune. It can be purchased for $10 at local retailers throughout Chelsea, Wakefield, Low, and Kazabazua in early June or directly through the GVHS by emailing publications@gvhs.ca.


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