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Local History

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This article first appeared in the February 28, 2007 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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Chelsea historic sites to get long-qwaited repognition

By Rowan Lamas

What is that old building, anyway?

Without plaques, or signs or any markers to show off heritage buildings, Chelsea residents have long demanded their municipality recognize its historical gems in some way In response, the municipality has recently teamed up with the Gatineau Valley Historical Society to build an inventory of centennial buildings on its territory.

West Hull town hall
In this l913 photograph the old West Hull own hall sits beside what is today Chelsea's Pub on Old Chelsea Rd. in the area that is now a patio. Photo courtesy of Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

"We gave the responsibility to the Planning and Sustainable Development Advisory Committee who are going to develop an inventory list with checkpoints to see if the building has any heritage background," explains Chelsea spokesman Charles Cardinal. "In the summer we are planning to have a joint program with the Cite Collegial in Ottawa with a group of students to go visit those buildings to ensure they do answer to the criteria that are going to be developed by the committee. Once we have the data we'll be able to outline the buildings, houses and areas where they have to be protected somewhat because of their heritage value."

The issue has been talked about for at least 20 years. In 1986, Chelseaite and late amateur historian Patrick Evans established an inventory of about 70 buildings deserving recognition in the centre village alone.

To date century plaques haven't been awarded to buildings in Chelsea, but the Low Down will give you a taste of some of the heritage value in Chelsea.

In upcoming editions we'll be sharing the stories of several historical buildings in the municipality.

From Town Hall To Hayloft

The walls are crumbling, the windows are shattered and hay still sits inside this shed on the land Leo Hendrick once farmed; all without a whisper of its past glory as Chelsea's town hall.

Before moving it to the farmland east of Hwy 5 off Old Chelsea Rd in the early 1980s, the two-story house sat beside the old Dean's Hotel on what is now the Chelseas Pub patio.

It served as the council chambers for West Hull (Now Chelsea) from 1876 until 1938.

This prominent building is one of the few that did have a heritage plaque made to remember it.

The old town hall won't be around much longer, however. Developers are planning to build a subdivision on the site and the dilapidated building isn't in any shape to be moved, according to Chelsea spokesman Charles Cardinal.

"We requested the family to remove part of that building as a historic landmark. In front of the building there was a cement plaque that said town hall and the year it was built." remembers Cardinal. "It's been stored away and we plan to unveil it sometime in the future, so if the original town hall doesn't stand up, at least we'll have parts of it to remember it by."

The building has an interesting historg according to GVHS director Carol Martin. Apparently Chelsea council tried to sell the old town hall, but refused all offers, saying the building was worth more.

"They considered all the offers they received far too low," recalls Martin. "Eventually they simply wanted it off their hands."

No other buyers emerged and the heritage building was sent to a slow demise on the farm.