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This article first appeared in the May 27, 2015 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

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History burns in Chelsea

By Veronique Hynes

It is still too early to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a 137-year-old heritage property in Chelsea on May 21, National Capital Commission officials say.

No one was injured in the incident, which decimated the William Cross homestead at 144 Cross Loop Road.

History burns in Chelsea
A neighbour called the fire department at 11:30 pm May 21, but flames had already engulfed the Meech Creek Valley house by the time they arrived. Photo courtesy of the MRC des Collines police.

The National Capital Commission owns the property and is working with Chelsea's fire department to determine the cause, said NCC spokesperson Cédric Pelletier.

"It's very unfortunate to lose a house that has local historical significance. It's a property that is really well known in the community," Pelletier said.

The four-bedroom, two-story house was worth $260,000, according to a municipal evaluation. The NCC rents out the house, but no one was living in it at the time of the fire.

A neighbour noticed the flames and called Chelsea's fire department at 11:30 p.m., according to MRC des Collines spokesperson Dominic Gallant. Flames had completely engulfed the house by the time fire fighters arrived on the scene.

This was the second time the heritage building had been lost to a fire. William Cross built the house in 1878, according to the Gatineau Valley Historical Society. It was destroyed in a fire in 1910 and rebuilt on the same foundation in the 1940s.

Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green said the farmhouse was an important part of the Meech Creek Valley's history.

"Every time that we lose another building, we lose another part of our history," she said. "It really is a loss to the cultural heritage of our community."

People can still learn about the history of the Cross homestead through an NCC virtual tour, Green said. Interested citizens can scan the QR codes at historic sites around Chelsea, which then takes them to links on the Gatineau Valley Historical Society's website.

Pelletier says no decision has been made on what the NCC will do with the property.

History burns in Chelsea
The house on Cross Loop Road was built by William Cross in 1879. This is the second time the house has been burned to the ground. Photo courtesy of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society.